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L.A. Confidential Paperback – September 1, 1997
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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 hisand 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.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
I strongly recommed that you read these four books in order, as the story arc unfolds over that much time. Cruical characters such as "Buzz" Meeks (who was criminally shortchanged in the film version) and Dudley Smith appear in two, three, or four of the books, all of which makes LA Con, the best of the uniformly excellent four, even better in context.
It may be a lot of work to do, several thousand pages, but true fans of American fiction could do much worse.
Fit into a couple hours and what feels like a year's worth of time, the movie is more concise. The book is far more sprawling, taking place over almost a decade --- and it connects to both the prequel (The Big Nowhere, excellent) and sequel (White Jazz, also excellent). The screenwriters actually did a fine job capturing the essence of the book while truncating the plot.
The book is, of course, far more involved, with more seamy threads, the plot much more byzantine. I was having a tough time figuring out how the Evil Scheme tied together, but Ellroy does a surprisingly good job of tying it together in a short time at the end, so read closely and stick with it.
The book's larger scope lets the three main characters get more face time and more depth. Not to slight Guy Pearce's fine performance, but Ed Exley is a whole new level of fascinating here. And Jack Vincenes isn't quite the super-slick hepcat that Kevin Spacey memorably embodied. Bud White is far less restrained than Russell Crowe made him look. The actors who played smaller roles in the movie (James Cromwell, Danny Devito and David Straithairn) were dead on.
Ellroy's prose is a thing of beauty, with its raw expose of violence and corruption and 50's slang (though not quite as polished or stylized as in White Jazz). While the movie was chock-full of badness, it didn't come close to the book. For those unfamiliar with the author: let's put it mildly and say he doesn't have a good opinion of human nature. No nice guys here.
If you like down and dirty crime fiction or film noir at all, this is the book for you. Personally, I'd recommend reading The Big Nowhere first, and then White Jazz, for a terrific trio of ungoodness.
The three main cops are polar opposites in many areas except for the ability to run amok of the rules and regulations of the LAPD when to do so furthers thier case or career. Interesting side plot with Exley's father and the cadre of hangers-on building theme parks and interstate highways mixed with slasher porno and a few tender moments.
I'm not a huge fan of the crime genre, but the reviews led me to this while hunting for a book for airplane reading. It's tough to put down, but even tougher to pick back up if you've not read for a day a two. Elroy seems to think the reader will read non-stop or has an incredible memory. Many times I had to go back and check earlier parts of the story to make it all fit. It does take sometime to get the style of his prose so it makes sense.
My suspiscion is since I don't read many books in this genre my picky complaints are those of a novice in this area. I believe this would be a much rewarding experience if read another time.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I have a natural bias toward preferring the book over its matching movie and when I’m able to I usually try to read the book before seeing the movie. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Wesley Bob
Each of the novels in the LA Quartet become more interesting and more convoluted. I'm already on the next in the series.Published 2 months ago by Jonathan D. Geisler
A thrilling read. Different from the movie, but a taught storyPublished 3 months ago by Trevor McIntyre
A tad convoluted, but perhaps one of the greatest crime novels I've read. Fantastic characters, dialogue, scenes and violence. DON'T BOTHER WATCHING THE FILM OVER THIS. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Alexandra Miller
I still haven't finished the L.A. quartet, but as the 3rd installment, L.A Confidential is certainly the best.
If you likes the movie, you'll love the book. Read more
One of my all time favorite movies. Well-written and superb acting.Published 4 months ago by Jill Atkinson
Ellroy's characters, in L.A. Confidential were not well-defined, but they were more than one-dimensional. Not much more, but some. Ellroy tells a story magnificently. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Painterjayne