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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on December 19, 1999
First of all, this is largely a fun read. And a quick one, because this book is 75% photos, 15% captions, and 10% introduction. Personally, I was disappointed there was not more text; what IS here is deliciously noir (it was tough to read without hearing Bogie's voice). But this is more a concept than a book, and it seems the author spent more time researching photos than writing and that was an unfortunate decision. But if you're looking for the seedy underbelly of L.A., you won't be disappointed.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on September 14, 1999
I too bought this book after hearing Larry Mantle's interview with the author. As a newly arrived local, I have become very interested in LA's history and this book is a worthy addition to anyone's library of books on LA. However I was a little disappointed that Mr Heinmann didn't give us specific addresses of places shown in the wonderful photographs he miraculously uncovered. I especially like to drive around LA and see what these sites look like thesedays. However Heinmann thought to give us very little in the way of specifics of address. This is fair enough when we're looking at anonymous bartenders caught in the crossfire of mafia killing sprees. But when were looking at nightclubs on Sunset in the 1940s or 50s, it would have been great to know where exactly there were.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on December 10, 2000
Sins of the City is a great picture book, with awesome images of pre and postwar Los Angeles noir. But it does lack the stories behind these images except for a few captions. I was expecting to find more text on L.A. noir and was a bit dissapointed. This is a great book to look at after reading "The Big Sleep" and "Farewell My Lovely" by Raymond Chandler. 3 stars for the great photos.
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on December 28, 2002
The author was obviously inspired by the best movie of 1997, L.A. Confidential, to dig into archival photos to show the "real Los Angeles." However, his ugly condemnation of the city--a city that needs to be "redeemed"--is as hysterically false as the boosterism of the "noir era" that proclaimed the metropolis as an eden of sunshine and wealth. His iconoclastic glee is a little too much. Are we really to be shocked that in a city of millions you'll find crime, gangsters, potheads, gambling joints, religious frauds and crooked cops? And author Heimann, breathless as he seems to be, is hardly the first to dredge the underbelly of the glamour capital of the world. Writers like Raymond Chandler, James M. Cain and Nathanael West did so many, many years ago. As other reviewers have noted, the photos are interesting but the text is witless and non-instructive. And his generalizations are annoying. As a lifelong Angeleno, most of the city's residents--then and now--are ordinary folks working hard to make a living and raise their families. This comes off as a smear job. I don't love L.A., but I don't think it's a non-redeemed hellhole either, now or in its history. Chronicle Books is one of my favorite publishers, but this is very poor journalism verging on propaganda.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on July 15, 1999
If you like the novels of James Ellroy, especially his L. A. trilogy, this book shows the reader many of the non-fiction characters and places. It's a great companion book.
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on August 10, 1999
Larry Mantle's "Air Talk" on KPCC is the inspiration for a number of the book purchases I've made in recent years. This same pattern held true for Heimann's "Sins of the City." For those of us somewhat familiar with LA's past, the photographs and sparce commentary provided a look at Los Angeles of the 1930s and 40s. They helped to fill in some of the blanks as well as raise new interests about things heretofore unknown. The book provides an entertaining two-hour read at the beach, but leaves the reader thirsting for more details. Last week Heimann's interview was played on "The Best of Airtalk." After having read the book and hearing Heimann's interview twice, I felt very deprived. Perhaps it's the ability of Larry Mantle to draw the best out of his guests, or maybe Heimann wanted his readers begging for more. Whatever the case, the narrative of the book pales to what it could have been had Heimann's interview on KPCC been used as the source of the book's narrative. For those of us who like to read Chandler or Elroy, this book provides us with the authentic photographs of the era to go along with their classic narratives.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on January 2, 2000
Admirers of films like CHINATOWN and L.A. CONFIDENTIAL will find the photographs collected in this book to be enthralling. Had the author located a paragraph from Raymond Chandler and company for each image (as he does for a few) this would have been a far better book. Unfortunately, the author provides us with a tabloid-style prose of his own. Also,admirers of vintage pornography will be disappointed by Mr. Heimann's rather tame and uninspired choices.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Awesome pics, but not as graphic as I would have expected. Not much coverage on the Black Dahlia case, but it was all inclusive of Los Angeles from the 20's to the early 60's. Overall, it's pretty cool, but it reads very easily and very coldly...a very non partisan POV, which helps. It's like watching "Mysteries and Scandals" on E! Television, but with less detail.
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8 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on January 10, 2000
While the pictures are plentiful, they are a bit boring. Below average even. You should exit stage left before paying $ for this book.
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