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Condition: Used: Good
Comment: This book has already been loved by someone else. It MIGHT have some wear and tear on the edges, have some markings in it, or be an ex-library book. Over-all it is still a good book at a great price! (if it is supposed to contain a CD or access code, that may be missing)
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L.A. Confidential Paperback – September 1, 1997

4.1 out of 5 stars 209 customer reviews
Book 3 of 4 in the L.A. Quartet Series

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

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.

From Publishers Weekly

An intricate procedural set in 1950s L.A. has crooked cops participating in a shoot-out with gangsters and in a precinct-house riot. According to PW , although "even the most noble of the characters here are relentlessly sleazy. . . their grueling, sometimes maniacal schemes make a compelling read for the stout of heart."
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing (September 1, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446674249
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446674249
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (209 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #156,725 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By John Owen on December 22, 1999
Format: Paperback
LA Confidential has been rightly hailed as a masterpiece of American fiction, not just of American crime fiction. But you need to do your homework first, as this is actually the third book in Ellroy's L.A. Quartet. The set includes, "The Black Dahlia," "The Big Nowhere," "LAC," and "White Jazz." By the end of White Jazz, the driving plot and Ellroy's maturity as a writer have honed an already sparse style to something just short of hebeprenic monosyllabic stuttering. Perversely, though, rather than becoming almost funny (like Hemingway could get (The rain fell down. It fell on the trees. The trees got wet. I was drunk, in the rain.)), the spare language actually gets out of the way of the forceful and gripping dialogue and action.
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.
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Format: Paperback
I had seen the superb movie (several times) before reading this book, and wondered how the two would compare. Ellroy's novel is also superb, and in some ways the movie reads direcrtly from it (much dialogue lifted verbatim) but there are large differences.
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.
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Format: Paperback
I don't even know how to begin this review so I'm just going to wing it. I'm basically blown away and all's I can ask myself is how in the world does anyone come up with this story, which is several stories all wrapped within eachother. I had read 'Dahlia' which I loved, then 'Nowhere' which impressed me even more. Now 'Confidential' has left me in deep thought about the characters and the art of Mr. Ellroy's storytelling. I saw the movie several times before reading this (or any of Ellroy's work) and loved it. But the movie and the book are very different. If you're considering reading this book but saw the movie and figure you know the story already, you don't, so read it. If you've heard that it's essential to read his quartet in order (this being the third out of the four) but don't feel like reading the other two first, then don't, but read this book. If you're a do-gooder, born-again, living as a nun,,, well, you might not want to read this (only because you may feel dirty and immoral for liking it). But everybody else should get a copy because its THAT GOOD. Oh it's long, it's complex, it has more characters than the bible (which, by the way, should be read only after reading this as a priority first) and you'll need to pay close attention to everybody and everything, but it is most definitly worth it. "White Jazz' (the fourth and final) here I come. Thanks Mr. E!
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By A Customer on February 8, 1999
Format: Paperback
I have to confess, I read the book after seeing the movie. I wanted to read for myself the backbone of what I thought was the best movie of 1997. Although most of the text translated well to the film, I was a bit shocked at Ellroy's style. He is brash and violent, telling his grim story through the unpleasantness of his characters (of which there are many). I liked the realism of the main charcters, Bud White in particular because of his conviction and determinism. I felt the book dragged on at times, spending lots of pages detailing events over and over again. I was unfamiliar with James Ellroy's work before this but I look forward to reading more in the future. I think his gritty, brutal style takes noir to a new level.
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