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L.A. CONFIDENTIAL by James Ellroy


by James Ellroy

Pub Date: June 4th, 1990
ISBN: 0446674249
Publisher: Mysterious Press

Energetic, sprawling and often stylistically irritating police procedural that follows three LAPD members over a ten-year period, beginning in 1950. Initially, Sgt. Ed Exley, a patrician who venerates his hero-cop father, presumably holds high ideals and unassailable standards. Officer Bud White, on the other hand, is brutal, violent, vengeful and Jack "Trashcan" Vincennes, formerly of the Narco Squad now busted to Vice, is willing to leak dirt to a scandal rag, Hush-Hush, for cash on the line. Over the years, their cases, political alliances, and personalities collide, collude, and corrupt as they come to grips with the aftereffects—on their own lives of a mass murder that comes to be known as the "Nite Owl Massacre." Meanwhile, real-life lowlifes cross their paths; love or certainly sex struts by; and the mighty fall at their feet, where, given the opportunity, they grind them into the dirt (although Exley tries to make exceptions on account of his dad). A wealth of subplots about a Disney World precursor; black musicians who get rousted for drug possession; hookers who go straight (sort of); the demise of sleaze mags; prison-yard hits; and purple convertibles eventually leads into a full understanding of the Nite Owl situation, as well as to the death, crippling, and dishonor of Vincennes, White, and Exley. The rat-a-tat style can be headache-inducing, as can the intertwining cases and ever-shifting focus; still, underneath all the verbiage and bombast, there's force and a bravura that demands attention along with editing.