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L.A. Confidential by James Ellroy
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L.A. Confidential (original 1990; edition 1997)

by James Ellroy

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2,305242,754 (4.1)58
Member:Chris_Grosvenor
Title:L.A. Confidential
Authors:James Ellroy
Info:Grand Central Publishing (1997), Paperback, 496 pages
Collections:Your library, Novels
Rating:**1/2
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L. A. Confidential by James Ellroy (1990)

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English (21)  Italian (1)  Spanish (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (24)
Showing 1-5 of 21 (next | show all)
It took me a while to dip into the story because of the concise and strong spelling style which was switching from one event to the next one. Once, I became accustomed to it I wasn't able to put it away. What made me most impressed was the unimaginable corruption within the police department and the politic. The gangster had more or less free hand to deal with drugs, prostitution and blackmail and some of the police officers were playing alongside with them. There were only two police officers who tried to solve this state. They couldn't have been more opposed characters and through the most part of the story I've got the feeling that they were trying very hard to put each other obstacles in the way.
The story is very gripping and praise of James Ellroy's spelling style and historical knowledge a must-read. ( )
1 vote Ameise1 | Feb 23, 2014 |
This is a terrific police mystery, filled with suspense and continued action. This is the best of the three I have read of Ellroy's LA Quartet. ( )
  Amusedbythis | Feb 22, 2014 |
I'm looking forward to watch the movie, so I wanted to get done with the book first.
Gave it 60 pages; I'm sure it's not bad and maybe it's just me at the moment, but the style keeps me trailing off of the page after every second sentence, and there are so many names and characters thrown at you, that I don't have the endurance to read it right now.
Will move on to the movie, and keep the book, maybe for later years. ( )
  borhap | Aug 27, 2013 |
I remember the movie from a while ago, and I do enjoy a good James Ellroy novel, so I was excited to read LA Confidential. To my surprised this book seems a bit all over the place, more so than usual and at times I struggled to keep up with what is happening. I know Ellroy likes to have a lot happening at his complex plots do come together but I did feel like it was a bit too much like a chore to keep up in this book.

LA Confidential is about organized crime, politics, corruption, drugs, pornography, prostitution, racism and like other books in the LA Quartet series, it is centred around a real crime; this time it’s the Bloody Christmas scandal. It’s an interesting technic Ellroy uses; true crime as the bases of his novels. I always enjoy reading his novels, but sometimes I think he goes over the top with the racism and the abuse towards homosexuals; I know and understand it was a sign of the times, but sometimes I wish it was just toned down a little, it doesn’t seem necessary. One think I did find interesting, is the use of Mickey Cohen in the book, and the more I read about this gangster the more I think Patrick Fischler was just a perfect choice for him in the game L.A. Noire.

While I think the three protagonists was a good way to do a complex storyline, I did feel lost at times. I would recommend the Black Dahlia as a better choice for someone new to Ellroy. After reading this book, I sat down and rewatched the movie. I’m pleased that the movie did do the book justice and I’m pleased to have read this book. I can’t wait to read more. ( )
  knowledgelost | Mar 31, 2013 |
The third book in the L.A. Quartet, L.A. Confidential, has been hailed by critics as one of seminal works of neo-noir. Published in 1990, it was Ellroy’s coming out party as a force to be reckoned with in the genre and the dawn of a new generation in crime fiction. Why? Because it’s that freaking good. It’s also because, at the time it was published, no one had ever written a book quite like it. The style is dense and clipped with abbreviated sentences trimmed down to only the essential elements, and the language is short and sweet, often culled from police, criminal, and 1950s pop vernacular. What results is a reading experience that feels a lot like picking through shattered glass. It’s a slow and painstaking process, trying to absorb every bit of meaning while not cutting yourself on the jagged edges.

His “kick you in the nards” style came into being when writing the novel White Jazz. The first manuscript he turned into his editor was a whopping 900 pages, and they asked him to trim it down to 350. He refused to remove scenes or subplots and instead trimmed it by distilling the words into their barest form (and simultaneously gave the finger to all those grammar Nazis that run high-school English classes). What resulted became Ellroy’s signature style. Here’s an example from the text:

“Dusk, Chermoya Avenue: Hollywood, a block off Franklin. 5261: a Tudor four-flat, two pads upstairs, two down. The lights—probably too late to glom “Chester” the day man. Jack rang the B buzzer—no response. An ear to the door, a listen—no sounds, period. In with the key.”

See what I mean about “dense”? A 400 page book written by Ellroy contains as much story as a 1000 page book from any other writer. There’s so much narrative in there, it’s hard to keep it all straight. L. A. Confidential was my fifth Ellroy book (prior to that it was Brown’s Requiem, The Black Dahlia, Destination: Morgue!, and Blood’s a Rover, if anyone out there is keeping score), and I have to say, I’m glad I didn’t try to tackle it right out the gate. It’s not an easy read, and anyone thinking of reading it would benefit from a little warming up before inviting Ellroy to pound their brains raw.

There are three narrative streams in the book, each one following a different character in the Los Angeles police department. First is Ed Exley, a young war hero, college boy, and coward hell bent on moving up the ranks of the LAPD and living up to his daddy’s as a police officer. Then there’s Wendel “Bud” White, a dumb bruiser with a penchant for “excessive force,” especially when exercised against wife beaters and child abusers. And finally there’s “Trashcan” Jack Vincennes. He works as an official advisor on the fictional TV series Badge of Honor (a.k.a. Dragnet, if anyone out there remembers that bit of La-La-Wood gold) and rousts celebrity drug users for the scandal rag, Hush-Hush. In other words, he’s totally bent. All are deeply flawed characters, but in different ways. The novel takes place over several years, with excerpts from local newspapers and police reports filling in the blanks between the passage of years.

All three characters are in some way involved with several key events in the story. It starts off with “Bloody Christmas,” a vicious beating perpetrated by dozens of officers upon four young Hispanics. The three officers’ actions during and subsequent to this event form the framework for their relationships (or lack thereof) with one another, and set in motion many of the other events in novel. A couple years later, six people are shot-gunned into oblivion in an all-night diner called the Nite Owl. All the men three all have a hand in the arrest and slaying of three negro youths accused of the crime, the cover-up of which becomes vital to unraveling the central mystery. But in addition to that, there are a ton of other subplots that weave their way into the narrative—a decades old serial murder, gruesome porn magazines, hookers cut to look like movie stars, stolen heroin, murdered prostitutes, the Badge of Honor TV show, a millionaire chemist, the Hush-Hush gossip rag, police corruption, organized crime, and gangland murder. I could go on, but there isn’t any point, really. Explaining the plot in detail won’t help you understand it any better. If anything, it’ll just make you even more confused. Suffice to say that there’s a lot of shit. But that was probably the thing that amazed me the most about this novel—that Ellroy could spin a story with so many subplots and characters and thematic elements and still be able to tie them all together at the end. That alone takes a special kind of brilliance.

Another spot of brilliance (hell, what am I talking about? The whole damn thing is brilliant) is Ellroy’s re-imagined version of L.A. Underneath the veneer of glitz and wealth and suburban bliss lies a malignant and festering sore. What makes it different than the real L.A., you ask? It’s because Ellroy takes all that corruption and depravity and kicks it up to eleven. A musician doesn’t just get high on dope. He gets high on dope and screws dogs and rapes underage hookers. A man isn’t just a wife-beater. He beats his wife to death while his young son watches and then leaves the kid to die chained up in the kitchen. A serial killer doesn’t just target young kids. He targets young kids, chops up their bodies, and sews them together to make a Frankenstein Pinocchio. The violence, perversion, and decay of Ellroy’s L.A. is a caricature of the real thing, amped up on steroids and blasted in your face out of a fire hose. He wants you to be shocked. He wants you to be disgusted. We’ve been desensitized by sensational media and gruesome crimes, and exaggerating the moral decrepitude is Ellroy’s way of grabbing you by the shoulders and shaking you awake. Because of that, L. A. Confidential isn’t going to appeal to everyone.

But it’s not all death and depravity. There’s a note of redemption, too, the idea that bad men can overcome their flaws and administer absolute justice—no matter how ugly the outcome might be. The coward can be brave, the bent can be straight, the thuggish can be heroic—but only through commonality and dependence upon their fellow man. Throughout the book, each of the characters attempts to solve the same problem by attacking it by themselves from different angles. Proving true the old adage that “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts,” they’re only able to surpass their own flaws and administer justice by working together and forgetting past wrongs. There’s a larger message in there about the human condition, but instead of waxing sappy (or sappier than I have already), I’m going to let you figure it out on your own.

Like I said before, L. A. Confidential isn’t an easy read. The writing style takes some getting used to, and the subject matter is uncomfortable at times. But at the same time, I can’t encourage you enough to pick it up and give it a try. Even if you don’t usually like crime or mystery fiction, I have a feeling you’ll enjoy it. So long as you’re not easily offended, of course. Or a child--definitely not a book to let your kids get ahold of. Anyway, the point is that it’s not just a good mystery. It’s good literature.

And if you’ve seen the movie and you’re worried the book will be a bore because you know everything that’s going to happen, then don’t. The second half of the book is totally different from movie. I mean, it’d have to be. If they put everything in the movie the way it was in the book, that sucker would be twelve hours long.

http://readabookonce.blogspot.co.uk/2012/05/review-l-confidential-by-james-ellro... ( )
2 vote WillyMammoth | May 16, 2012 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
James Ellroyprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Oliva, CarloTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
A glory that costs everything and means nothing --
Steve Erickson
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Aan Mary Doherty Ellroy
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An abandoned auto court in the San Berdoo foothills; Buzz Meeks checked in with ninety-four thousand dollars, eighteen pounds of high-grade heroin, a 10-gauge pump, a .38 special, a .45 automatic and a switchblade he bought off a pachuco at the border -- right before he spotted the car parked across the line: Mickey Cohen goons in an LAPD unmarked, Tijuana cops standing by to bootjack a piece of his goodies, dump his body in the San Ysidro River.
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Roem die alles kost en niets betekent. (Steve Erickson)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0446674249, Paperback)

James Ellroy's L.A. Confidential is film-noir crime fiction akin to Chinatown, Hollywood Babylon, Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, and Jim Thompson. It's about three tortured souls in the 1950s L.A.P.D.: Ed Exley, the clean-cut cop who lives shivering in the shadow of his dad, a legendary cop in the same department; Jack Vincennes, a cop who advises a Police Squad- like TV show and busts movie stars for payoffs from sleazy Hush-Hush magazine; and Bud White, a detective haunted by the sight of his dad murdering his mom.

Ellroy himself was traumatized as a boy by his party-animal mother's murder. (See his memoir My Dark Places for the whole sordid story.) So it is clear that Bud is partly autobiographical. But Exley, whose shiny reputation conceals a dark secret, and Vincennes, who goes showbiz with a vengeance, reflect parts of Ellroy, too.

L.A. Confidential holds enough plots for two or three books: the cops chase stolen gangland heroin through a landscape littered with not-always-innocent corpses while succumbing to sexy sirens who have been surgically resculpted to resemble movie stars; a vile developer--based (unfairly) on Walt Disney-- schemes to make big bucks off Moochie Mouse; and the cops compete with the crooks to see who can be more corrupt and violent. Ellroy's hardboiled prose is so compressed that some of his rat-a-tat paragraphs are hard to follow. You have to read with attention as intense as his—and that is very intense indeed. But he richly rewards the effort. He may not be as deep and literary as Chandler, but he belongs on the same top-level shelf.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:20:28 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Three troubled cops-- Ed Exley, desperately seeking glory; vengeful Bud White, a witness to his mother's murder by his father; and Jack Vincennes, a shakedown artist with a dark secret-- tread a fine line between right and wrong in 1950s Los Angeles.

(summary from another edition)

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