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L.A. Confidential [Paperback]

James Ellroy
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (95 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Sept. 1 1997
L.A. Confidential is epic "noir", a crime novel of astonishing detail and scope written by the bestselling author of The Black Dahlia. A horrific mass murder invades the lives of victims and victimizers on both sides of the law. And three lawmen are caught in a deadly spiral, a nightmare that tests loyalty and courage, and offers no mercy, grants no survivors.

Frequently Bought Together

L.A. Confidential + The Big Nowhere + White Jazz
Price For All Three: CDN$ 38.37

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Product Description

From Amazon

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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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Noir saga with mythic journey at its heart Feb. 4 2004
It's a spider web. It's a labyrinth, and the minotaur at its heart is both a psychotic murderer and the central selves of its three main characters. As a surface read, this novel is a stellar exemplar of the noir California genre. The Los Angeles it conjures up is both a nightmare and a reality (Johnny Stompanato, the gangster lover of Lana Turner, is a character, and his murder by Turner's daughter provides a final knife-twist in the plot). Ellroy's dark city exhibits more seething, foul vice crawling over itself than I have ever encountered between the covers of one book. Yet it turns out to be about the ultimate redemption, or at least coming to terms with self, of the three primary characters. Ed Exley, a privileged son whose apparently burnished war record is a sham; Jack Vincennes, whose weakness for pills and booze has led him into a shameful error he can't shake; and Bud White, who is trying to overcome his powerlessness to prevent his mother's brutal murder by finding wife-beaters and rapists and punishing them all to a bloody pulp. This trio of damaged and damaging cops all converge on an insanely ramified late night slaying at the Nite Owl cafe. It lines to prostitution, drugs, plastic surgery as a racket, harder than hard-core porn, organized crime, blackmail, extortion, and a host of petty and major criminals both inside the LAPD and outside. Ultimately, though, the lines go way further back by 35 years, to a series of child murders done to create a grotesque little eros--a thing composed of the wings of birds and parts of children. This horrific image should tip you off--you are in the presence of something more epic and mythic than mere noir. Read more ›
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The underside of 50's Los Angeles Aug. 15 2003
James Ellroy's L.A. Confidential is a facinating look at Los Angeles in the 50's as seen through the intertwining stories of three LAPD cops. Plot and style are very much in the hard-boiled tradition. However Ellroy's clipped narrative style takes a bit of getting used to. As good as the book is, this is one of the few instances where the movie is better than the film. Mainly because the plot in the movie is much tighter and the ending more satisfying.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Still Reccomending yet a bit dissapointing... Aug. 11 2003
"L.A Confidential" is the perhaps the most famous novel in Hollywood, L.A noir mystery writer James Ellory's career. After being made into an Oscar Award Winning novel of a screen play written by the author itself, many fans of the movie may rush out to read the novel whilst having no idea as to what exactly they are getting into.
The plot is similar to that of the movie, Mickey Cohen. L.A's most famous ganster has just been thrown in jail for tax evasion. While Cohen is away, eager and ambitious mafia crime lords from all over the U.S as well as oridinary citizens and small time crime hoods make their movie like carrion birds to a corpse in attempt to pick clean and ultmiatley domniate the crime empire left by Cohen.
While some maybe called desperate enough to claim Cohens' racket, apparently someone has enough courage to go to the ulitmate lengths to gain control of his prostitution and drug ring empire. Methodically assasinating Cohens closest men, while giving the newly formed L.A.P.D a run for their money. The story focuses on two cops, ambitious poster boy Edmund Exely and hard edged muscled cop Bud White. The two characters as different as can be become unwhitting partners as a well developed conspiracy in the newly formed L.A.P.D comes forward with ties to the methodic assasinations of Cohens closest men, as well as strange totally unrelated rape, murder, and robbery crimes around L.A that all have a tie in this utterly brilliant noir crime novel.
The story, rings true to the movie though fans of the movie who aren't well developed readers may find Ellory's novel (extremely) hard to swallow. His slang dialogue which was pleantiful in "The Black Dahlia", is seemingly taken to the exterme in this novel.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Sergeant Edmund J. Exley April 19 2003
In the MOVIE adaptation, the character of Bud White, the "thug"-cop who is only half-intelligent (in detective work, I mean) and prefers "speaking" with his fists, is given prominence as the "bigger" hero while the other 2 good cops, Ed Exley and Jack Vincennes appear to be more in supporting roles. But if you have read the BOOK, you will know (and appreciate) who the real hero is - yes, Ed Exley - the neat, bespectacled, rich-kid, straight-arrow cop. Note also that the cover of the book (rightly) features the figure of Exley (and not Bud White) in a scene taken from the movie.
I loved the movie and have watched it many times (on video, cable TV and now DVD), but I love the book a million times more. The story is so original and exciting. The praise by "The Village Voice" (as printed on the back cover) probably sums up the book perfectly: "You can get sliced just turning the pages." I have never read a book written in a style like James Ellroy's before. It is unique, effective and quite easy to get used to. I have no difficulty understanding most of the cop-language, 1950s American talk/slang used. However, I still cannot figure out how much a "C-note" is.
But I want to write more about Ed Exley (the police sergeant who works his way up the LAPD ranks with great speed). He is a great cop - good looking, incredibly smart, intelligent, a great strategist (just loved the clever way he conducts interrogation interviews on criminal suspects), a true upholder of police justice, who spurns graft and is someone so highly principled and reliable. When you have finished the novel, I believe, like me, you will come to really know and admire Exley more than any of the other characters. I feel I understand Exley's character thoroughly. The author created such a believable "person".
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars loved it
Since I really enjoyed the movie I thought I should finally read the book and what a treat! Highly recommend for fans of the genre,
Published 3 months ago by Glenn Paradis
4.0 out of 5 stars `Opportunities fall easy - you pay for them later.'
This novel is the third in James Ellroy's L.A. Quartet, and is set in Los Angeles in the period between 1951 and 1958. Read more
Published on Dec 27 2010 by Jennifer Cameron-Smith
4.0 out of 5 stars The darkness steps lightly
In L.A. Confidential, James Ellroy has concocted a darkness that permeates every chapter of the story. Read more
Published on Jan. 16 2007 by Marianne
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Book!
I've just finished "The Big Nowhere" (the book before "L.A. Confidential") and it's a marvelous read! But "L.A. Con" is still the GREATER book, in my opinion. Read more
Published on June 7 2003 by anna-joelle
5.0 out of 5 stars Graphic and Exhilirating!!
James Ellroy is likely America's best active crime fiction writer. In his dark and disturbing vision of Los Angeles in the 40's and 50's the bad guys are pretty bad, but the cops... Read more
Published on Jan. 12 2003 by James R. Mckinley
5.0 out of 5 stars dark and disturbing
More than any other writer since Jim Thompson and the early Greats (Chandler, Hammett, Cain), Ellroy is able to create a dark and disturbing world all his own. Read more
Published on Dec 12 2002 by David Group
5.0 out of 5 stars Tough as nails and well worth my time
LA Confidential begins as hardboiled as a book has ever begun. It's Los Angeles in the early 1950s with plenty of organized crime and questionable police tactics. Read more
Published on Nov. 1 2002 by Thomas Stamper
5.0 out of 5 stars A Staggering Piece of Crime Fiction
Jame's Ellroy's "LA Confidential" is a remarkable book. Most people know of it only by it's excellent film adaptation. Read more
Published on Oct. 31 2002 by Patrick A. Hayden
5.0 out of 5 stars Really like it
I read this straight after closing the covers on The Big Nowhere, and liked it just as much. The malevolent presence of Dudley Smith is omnipresent - even when he's not in a scene,... Read more
Published on Sept. 11 2002 by saliero
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