Novels like The Big Sleep and L.A. Confidential, movies like Chinatown, even vampire TV shows like Angel, depict L.A. as existing in the shadows, no matter how bright the sun. That is the style we call noir.
In A Bright and Guilty Place, an exhilarating tale of murder in L.A., Richard Rayner finds the source of the city's darkness in real-life events that unfolded in the 1920s, when the booming early years of L.A. started to shade into the Depression, and the city of sunshine revealed the hidden darkness and corruption at its heart.
Rayner follows two very different characters: Leslie White, a photographer and budding novelist whose job as a crime-scene investigator for the city prosecutor's office lands him right in the middle of some of the age's biggest scandals; and Dave Clark, a charming, handsome prosecutor-turned-political candidate whose ambition and voracious appetites drive him into the bowels of L.A.'s corrupt politics and perhaps even to murder. The two men live in an L.A. populated by corrupt preachers, dark-hearted oil barons, sexually perverse starlets, and hookers with a heart of gold. It is a city controlled by organized crime to such an extent that when Al Capone came to see about setting up a syndicate there, he was run out of town without a single shot fired. And the tension comes to a boiling point when the head of the crime syndicate, Charlie Crawford, is found murdered in cold blood and the chief suspect is none other than golden boy Dave Clark.
Raymond Chandler, that bard of L.A. despair, would later turn the travails of Dave Clark and Leslie White into the superlatively pessimistic fiction which has defined L.A. for generations. And in A Bright and Guilty Place, Richard Rayner has done something similar, transporting us to a turning point in the life of a great city. In the murderous events in these pages, we witness how sunny Los Angeles came of age - and got noir.
"A captivating chronicle of how the City of Angels lost its soul." (Amazon.com review)
"Brilliant.... The nonfiction equivalent of the Raymond Chandler classics.... Utterly truthful, fantastic and new." (Los Angeles Times)
"[A] multifaceted literary high wire act. . . . Rayner can write an engaging sentence and construct an artful, evocative yarn." (The New York Times Book Review)
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Didn't hold my interest
Excellent audio book
This is a side of L.A. that I had never heard of before. I remember hearing that it had been very corrupt in the 20s and 30s but not to this extent. It was totally fascinating to read about the history of the city and its people. Amazing what went on in the town. I love
history and really enjoyed this book.
When 'the' murder was committed. I was actually very surprised at the about total about face of the person involved. Money is corrupting no matter what.
Have not heard this person before but I was pleased with his performance. I much prefer male narrators. I feel they do a better job than women in narrating audio books. It is a factor for me as to whether I will purchase a book.
Yes I wish I could have listened to it all at once as I really had to tear myself away from it to get anything else done. That is how I know it was a great book!
I had no idea that oil had been such a huge thing in Cal. and the money involved was incredible when you think that they paid very little taxes in those days. The house built by the oil tycoon for his son and daughter in law was beyond belief both in extravagance and cost. It actually surpasses anything that today's billionaires have done.