Sunday, September 10, 2006

Review: L. A. Confidential.

Not the film, which I love and has a place in my Top 100 Favorite Movies. I'm talking about the novel by James Ellroy. Black Dahlia (from another Ellroy novel) is coming to theaters soon, and I wanted to read that book. LWC suggested I wait, using the logic of film first then book, always a good tip. So I found an Ellroy novel whose movie I'd already seen.

Having finished off Raymond Chandler and not even halfway through Elmore Leonard, I'm still searching for more crime novel writers. I don't know how I haven't read Ellroy before, but I am impressed and thrilled with the possibility of more excellent novels to devour.

I purchased L.A. Confidential in the Vintage large format that is highly overpriced and my only choice for a new copy. (I must make time to find a used book store.) It runs over 400 pages. I was certain this novel could not sustain the usual clipped dialogue and frenetic pace of the best crime novels. I was happily proved wrong.

This book is an epic crime novel. I didn't even know such a thing existed. Like Gone With the Wind or Lord of the Rings, it spans decades and tells the fascinating stories of many interesting characters. There is a lot more here than the story in the film (of course), and it's all excellent.

A few chapters labeled "Calendar" update the reader through the many years of the stories with excerpts from magazine and newspaper articles, all written flawlessly in the proper style and format.

I can't say enough good things about James Ellroy and L.A. Confidential. If it's not the best novel I've ever read, it's in the top three. Any fan of crime stories should read this book. I'm already on another one, and anxious to read more.

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