Christmas 1951, Los Angeles: a city where the police are as corrupt as the criminals. Six prisoners are beaten senseless in their cells by cops crazed on alcohol. For the three LAPD detectives involved, it will expose the guilty secrets on which they have built their corrupt and violent careers.
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One of the two best books by Ellroy...his "Cold Six Thousand" is the other. Gritty, suspenseful, and a great cast of characters. I love Craig Wasson's narrating skills, but I do agree with some other reviews that he appeared to be trying too hard on this one.
Like Fight Club, 'L.A. Confidential' is one of those contemporary novels that provides a certain literary difficulty for readers who come to it AFTER the film dropped because the directors (David Fincher, Curtis Hanson) created such large, iconic images out of the novels. L.A. Confidential's major characters are all very similar to the movie, but there are some major omissions and changes made in the movie that keep Elloroy's urtext both novel and different enough, to warrant your buck and your time.
Ellroy is a modern master of the slow build, the dark, back motives, the inevitable bloodbath. I think of the image of three big waves cresting together when I think of Edmund "Ed" Exley, Wendell "Bud" White, John "Jack" Vincennes, and their personal demons, all coming together to exact justice, each for their own reasons and with their own baggage and agendas. Anyway, it was all deftly done.
The novel also contains many of the usual Ellroy tropes: pornography, children haunted by the actions of their parents, prostitutes, vice-in-general, the mob, corrupt cops, heroic cops with fatal flaws, femme fatales, queers, shrinks, plastic surgery, and a dark undercurrent that cuts thorough the heart of both L.A. and Hollywood. The world Ellory paints is dark, harsh, and often perverse. It isn't a place you want to raise a family or even walk a dog.
My only gripe with the narration is sometimes I think Wasson only has one voice for jews, one voice for women, one voice for thugs. I would have probably served the narration better to tone down some of the character narration. The story creates enough drama, no need to turn it to 11.