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White Jazz Paperback – April 24, 2001

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White Jazz + The Big Nowhere + L.A. Confidential
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 354 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (April 24, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375727361
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375727368
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (85 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #62,358 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Blacker than noir, this latest novel from the author of L.A. Confidential and The Black Dahlia is set in 1958 and features a dirty LAPD detective with a breathtaking mastery of corruption. Dave Klein, a gangland heavy, USC law grad and police lieutenant, can thread a legal loophole as easily as he slips on brass knuckles. Assigned by the police commissioner to head an investigation into a narc squad payoff source, Klein smells a setup. To save himself, he traces a genealogy of double-dealing that includes incest, institutionalized bribery and police corruption, all going back decades. Ellroy's telegraphic style, which reduces masses of plot information to quick-study shorthand, captures the seamy stream-of-consciousness of this tainted cop and carries the reader from initial repulsion to a fascination that lingers long after the story's last notes have faded away. Ellroy adroitly transfers the manic energy of scat and bebop to this final volume of his tense, lowdown L.A. epic. Moreover, he demonstrates perfect pitch for illegalese, but the hepcat banter never obscures the complex plotting of politics and pre-Miranda rights police work, a combination that here makes most other crime novels seem naive. 40,000 first printing; BOMC alternate.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Ellroy adeptly leads the reader into the murky, decadent world of Los Angeles in the late 1950s, as seen through the cynical eyes of David Klein, age 42, the commanding officer of the LAPD's vice division. Klein makes up his own rules as he goes along, rules that involve money, mayhem, and murder as necessary. Klein isn't the only one to follow such rules, which apparently are the "norm" for other members of the force as well. But Klein suffers the unthinkable when he becomes the scapegoat so that other officers can protect their own dirty laundry from the probing eyes of federal agents. White Jazz is the last volume of what is known as Ellroy's "L.A. quartet" of crime novels, which includes his previous L.A. Confidential (Mysterious Pr., 1990), The Big Nowhere (Mysterious Pr., 1988), and The Black Dahlia ( LJ 10/15/87). It's disturbing but riveting reading that Ellroy fans will especially enjoy.
-Marlene Lee, Drain Branch Lib., Ore.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

James Ellroy was born in Los Angeles in 1948. He is the author of the acclaimed L.A. Qurtet - The Black Dahlia, The Big Nowhere, LA Confidential and White Jazz, as well as the Underworld USA trilogy: American Tabloid, The Cold Six Thousand and Blood's a Rover. He is the author of one work of non-fiction, The Hilliker Curse: My Pursuit of Women. Ellroy lives in Los Angeles.

Customer Reviews

The writing style is jarring but Ellroy does it so well.
If you're a fan of American Tabloid, this is the Ellroy novel for you, as it is written in that classic Ellroy staccato style.
J. Graml
While a difficult read because of Ellroy's short incomplete sentences, this book filled my expectations.
David White

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

57 of 58 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 1, 1999
Format: Paperback
White Jazz: novel, long, odd.
James Ellroy: author. Turns out a good sentence. Knows his stuff. Tough. Uncompromising. Not afraid of risks.
Style: Unusual. Off-putting. Jangled. Nervy. Hard to follow. Worth the trouble.
Dudley Smith: Ellroy's signature character. Evil. Obscene. Brutal. Good to see him again.
Problems: Confusing. Often. Get. Lost. In. Stacatto. Prose.
Plusses: Stream of Consciousness choice inspired. Gets in mind of Dave Klein. Doesn't judge him. Lets us into his world.
Overall: Don't miss. L.A. Confidential - Big Nowhere - Black Dahlia - White Jazz. Terrific. All.
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31 of 32 people found the following review helpful By James Paris on September 1, 2002
Format: Paperback
The rumor is that Ellroy turned in a 900-page first draft. When his publisher protested, the author cut down the book to its
present length by eliminating verbs, articles, adjectives, and most other parts of speech. The result is a breathless gallop through a darkly fascinating world of murder, incest, perversion, corruption, greed, and lust. And that's just for starters!
Reading WHITE JAZZ is like reading Anthony Burgess's CLOCKWORK ORANGE. The language is a mélange of English, LAPD crimestoppers' jargon, and 1950s pulptalk. Be prepared to deal with 187s, B&E, bootjacking, hinkiness, FIs, 459s, IAD, rebop, snarfing with soshes -- among other things.
What makes it all worthwhile is that Ellroy has a great story to tell, and he tells it well even if he invents his own language that only tangentially resembles English. Be prepared for harsh lights thrown into the darkest parts of the human soul. Be
prepared for almost universal corruption, varying only in degree. As you spiral into the depths with Ellroy, you can almost feel the walls converging and the floor dropping from under you.
This is a worthy conclusion to the author's Los Angeles Quartet. Be sure to read the novels in sequence for a sweeping panorama of 15 years of postwar degradation: THE BLACK DAHLIA, THE BIG NOWHERE, L.A. CONFIDENTIAL, and -- not least of them -- WHITE JAZZ.
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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Mark A. Schreiber on July 18, 2001
Format: Paperback
Dig: Every book in the L.A. Quartet is a must. Every one of them. Feature you read just one or start in the middle, you're a chump. White Jazz - a great closer. Can't miss.
After reading the first three novels in the series, I was reluctant to read White Jazz. I was scared off hearing so much about Ellroy's deepening usage of staccato prose and unattributed dialogue. I was led to believe the book was almost written in an experimental language. Well, I am writing this review for one purpose: to keep people from being fearful of this amazing book. If you like Ellroy, and if you've enjoyed the quartet thus far, you'll love it.
Is White Jazz my favorite in the series? No. I still prefer L.A. Confidential, followed by The Big Nowhere. But White Jazz is much more evolved than The Black Dahlia. And as brutal and dark as it is, White Jazz has more laughs than all the other quartet novels combined. While the novel's halting presentation doesn't allow you to roll through the pages, that's almost a blessing, because every line is dense with nuance and information. You want to pay attention.
I absolutely recommend reading the series in order, and if you're through L.A. Confidential, you simply must complete the quartet. White Jazz strikes the perfect notes in capping the series, and ties up a few ends along the way. It is beautiful, savage, powerful and stunning.
Feature it's more challenging than a Grisham book. Feature that's a good thing. Dig: No big deal. Don't get scared off. Brass knucks/brain swelling/reading in bed. Big fun - big reward. CRAAAAZY.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Cairene on January 9, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Feature: Chief of Detectives Edmund Exley, the once morally ambiguous hotshot in LA Confidential, now revealed to be a dangerously polished hyena is mad at the Feds, who are now launching a full fledged investigation into his insalubrious efficient gutter that is the LAPD. At one of his many press conferences, he says of the probe: "It will fail because he (the Fed head of the probe, Welles Noonan) has grievously underestimated the moral rectitude of the Los Angeles Police Department." No such luck, moral rectitude is never an issue here. The only thing an inquirer may underestimate is the survival skills of the inquired.
The slime-balls are all here. James Ellroy's White Jazz is the authentic feeling, brilliantly foul continuation of the life and times of the various parasites that populate the 50s LAPD and the corrupt politicians, drug-pushers, tabloid hounds, pornographers, pimps and prostitutes they feed on. It is a first person account by lieutenant Dave "the enforcer" Klein. A casual murderer of numerous witnesses and others that happen to be in the way of where ever he's going. He doesn't feel bad about it, probably doesn't have time to. But he does admit certain queasiness after a kill. Ellroy's novel is too hardboiled to be one of redemption, but he does offer castigation to all his sinners. There is for instance Klein's unsubtle incestuous obsession with his sister. In fact, incest seems to be Ellroy's preferred method of punishment. A longing that can never be satisfied, and if satisfied will be the source of infinite desolation. At the center of this hell is a diseased family Klein observes as an investigator. They are a crime family, long involved with the LAPD. Their numerous afflictions are of the darkest kind, and are the source of the novel's deceptively euphonious title.
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