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3.66 of 5 stars 3.66  ·  rating details  ·  1,830 ratings  ·  53 reviews
Set in 1950s L A CLANDESTINE follows Frederick Underhill of the Los Angeles Police Department as he pursues his dream to become the most celebrated detective of all time. The death of a lonely woman gives him his chance. As an ex-lover of the victim, Underhill soon gets on the case with L A's most feared interrogator Lieutenant Dudley Smith. But instead of finding his care...more
Paperback, 346 pages
Published 1996 by Random House (first published 1982)
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Pretty good early Ellroy. Though I had problems with the middle third (the pacing just goes totally dead as he goes into a longwinded, heavily expository backstory), I'd still call this "essential" to anyone (like me) who loved the LA Quartet--as it introduces key characters, like Dudley Smith, and locales, like the Victory Motel, that figure so prominently in the Quartet. In fact, the entire first third reads a lot like the LA Quartet, though a lot less polished. Once the story moves away from...more
Mar 19, 2008 Andy rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: hard-boiled crime fans
Shelves: hardboiled-dicks
When I went to a James Ellroy reading I went through my collection to find a good one I wanted him to autograph. I picked "Clandestine". It's that good! When he signed it, he wrote:

"To Andy -
Doom Dwells!
James Ellroy"
Even when reading one of James Ellroy's earliest and most conventional novels, it's easy to understand both why he divides fans of crime fiction so much *and* why he's one of the writers in the genre who have earned the most respect from academic literary circles. "Clandestine" is far from perfect, but mostly succeeds in going even further than Hammett and Chandler in elevating the detective novel to serious literature.

From the first page, you can notice that Ellroy's sensibility is closer to th...more
The fact that this took me over a year to read is likely indicative of something. I'd been wanting to read Ellroy since seeing LA Confidential, and maybe I should have held out for a copy of that.

I really liked the first half of the novel, and the cop who finds that his need for justice is too constrained by the police department. This is the formula that gives you Batman. It's also the formula that gives you Magneto. There's a dangerous line, and unlike many vigilante stories this one admits th...more
In an interview with Paris Review in 2009, James Ellroy said “If you’re confused about something in one of my books, you’ve just got to realize, Ellroy’s a master, and if I’m not following it, it’s my problem.”

He is indeed a master. His beautiful, lyrical writing of brutal and dark subjects is inspiring. I read this book many years ago and now have re-read it. It tells the story of a young ambitious policeman in Los Angeles who suspects a serial killer is at work in the deaths of two women. In t...more
J. Mark
I haven't looked into where this sits in Ellroy's oeuvre, but it's a bit of a mess.

Plus side: a few of the characters are the most compelling of Ellroy's creations, I really didn't know what was really going on until the last chapter.

Downside: I had a very hard time understanding the motives of the very complex main character, Fred Underhill. Seems that Ellroy was trying to include as many disparate traits in one man as he could get away with, and I don't think he really does get away with it....more
My first Ellroy book, and it won't be my last but I wasn't very intrigued by this one.

The main character is something of a cipher and mishmash, at first an ambitious good guy but later like a younger Dudley Smith himself without much transitional explanation. Too many characters are too similar both in name and traits. The nine year-old(!) child who nearly looked like a man and acted like a perverted teenage delinquent, what was up with that? Why did our hero "fall in love"...more
This was my first James Ellroy book and I found it intriguing. The characters are all so beautifully flawed it makes them fascinating. The hero Fred Underhill risks his career as an LA Cop in a high profile case that winds up getting him kicked off the force. The crime and it's collateral damage to his life haunt him for years, threatening to destroy his life. Clandestine is a beautifully written who-done-it with unique twists and turns.
Philip Booth
Look up the definition of "hardboiled" in the dictionary, and you'll find James Ellroy. It's the first Ellroy novel I've read all the way through, after making a few starts through some of his other books. He deftly evokes the sun-sprayed corruption of L.A., circa early '50s. The story begins as a rather grisly police/detective mystery, and then shoots off into some surprising directions, at one point taking readers to the Midwest. Several folks are engaged in Very Bad Things, and the protagonis...more
Another early Ellroy. He's circling the Dahlia here...introducing Dudley Smith and all of his psychological mastery. The hero in this one is fairly straightforward - - his only real sin is ambition. Also continues JE's early obsession with golf, which is fascinating. The villain is awesome - - kind of a weird pulp supergenius. It's goofy but cool. This dude's books, man, are just the best.
A fictionalized account of the real-life murder of Ellroy's mother. Read it with his autobiography, My Dark Places, to compare how he writes the same story in fiction/memoir.
Matteo Pellegrini

Los Angeles, 1951. A soli ventisei anni Freddy Underhill è già considerato un poliziotto di grande talento, destinato a una brillante carriera. Un giorno però viene assassinata una donna amica del detective e la polizia incarcera un innocente che, dopo un interrogatorio brutale, confessa e si suicida. Un errore madornale, per cui Underhill viene scelto come capro espiatorio. Lasciata la polizia, l'ex detective va alla deriva, si trasforma in un relitto umano. Ma quando, anni dopo, un'altra donna

William Johnson
Though one story, this is really three books. And compared to the LA Quartet, this appears to be a rough draft for various plot points of that Quadrilogy.

The first part of the book is vintage, LA Quartet level Ellroy in which we follow our hero and his partner through their lives as LA patrolmen.

The second part of the book features three characters from the LA Quartet (including Dudley Smith) and plays out as an ethical character study and commentary on justice, due process and what being a man...more
è pur sempre un buon hard boiled, ma se messo a confronto con gli altri ellroy (in primis, American Tabloid, che resta il mio preferito) è veramente un brutto libro.
il personaggio di freddy pare un po' troppo raffazzonato, quasi che sia succube degli eventi (nessun ellroy's hero) è succube degli eventi; quello di lorna, invece, sembra troppo abbozzato e poco "pensato". lo spunto narrativo comunque è buono e la trama regge, al limite dell'impossibile, però, con qualche scivolone nel paradosso.
Chuck Briggs
This is an early effort by James Ellroy, although it features one of his best known creations, Detective Dudley Smith. It thought it was a pretty terrific story. Rookie cop James Underhill, ambitious and wanting to rise quickly on the force, spends his off hours chasing leads in hunt of a serial killer. Underhill is portrayed as a ruthless, arrogant intriguer, someone who will stop at nothing to forward his career but is still remarkable sympathetic in his relentless pursuit of the truth..

Set up...more
Feb 06, 2011 BoekenTrol rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: stubee
Recommended to BoekenTrol by: kizmiaz

This book came along as a ring book. Will be reading it soon.

At first I had a little difficulty getting into this book. A diiferent style of writing / placed in a different period with habits and objects I know the name of in Dutch but I'm not familiar with in English.
When I read over / through that, I liked the story.
Somewhere half way though, I thought of putting it down. It as quite violent, brutal and I started to dislike the book because of it. Not be...more
Tim Niland
Fred Underhill is a young policeman in Los Angeles on his way up. By day he keeps the city safe from crime and at night he prowls for loose women and goes looking for "the wonder," a sense of awe that he feels from anything that is new an unusual: from people, nature or crime. Things change dramatically when one of his romantic conquests is later found murdered in the manner that makes Underhill suspect a serial killer may be at work. Underhill has a suspect, and working under a black flag with...more
I love L.A. Confidential (the film) so much that I wanted to read a book that evoked the same milieu, the same literary "terroir," while avoiding a retread of the same plot that would inevitably come with reading L.A. Confidential (the novel) itself. What better way to accomplish that goal than by going to James Ellroy's other work? Clandestine isn't one of Ellroy's most widely-known efforts, but possibly because it was one of his earliest, there's a rough-edged "rawness" to the writing that I f...more
Steve Malley
I've got this strange fascination with Ellroy's early work-- it's good, but not brilliant.

Supposedly, the story goes that the original submission for L.A. Noir was insanely long. The publisher wouldn't touch it until it was trimmed down, but Ellroy couldn't find anywhere to make cuts. A joking remark, 'Maybe I should take out all the and's and the's and stuff', led to the telegraphic style that makes his work so raw and brilliant.

Which is what fascinates me. All the other elements are here: th...more
Dan Lemke
Another early work by James Ellroy (see Brown's Requiem review) that is pretty typical of the author's narrative style. Ellroy's prose grows more staccato later in his career, but here (as in the Lloyd Hopkins trilogy) the prose is fairly typical of the genre (partially this is because the book is told from the first person POV). The murders are grotesque without being overly graphic; Ellroy's murders tend to be more offensive than that of Christie or even Chandler, but he knows when to stop on...more
Fred Underhill, a young, smart and attractive police officer had everything going his way. Then he involved himself in a murder investigation that ended badly and was forced off of the police force. Some years later, another murder draws him back into investigating, this time without the benefit of a badge.

A fast paced ending and an intricate plot save this book after an early resolution. A slow-moving middle section is thankfully not extensive. While it is fairly easy to guess who the villain...more
I think James Ellroy had two different plot lines and couldn't figure out what to do with either of them, so he tied them together with a tenuous thread and pronounced the result a novel.
His second book had a more straightforward feel, but with themes that recur. More golfing anecdotes following on from Brown's Requiem, but thankfully less colloquial language, all the re-bop etc can get a little too much.

The characters are vivid, and all fundamentally flawed, some more than others.

Ellroy puts in more oblique references to his own mother's demise, without hammering it home.

A first appearance for Dudley Smith, who will become a pivotal character in later books.

The denouement offer...more
are you experienced? ellroy's glamour is covered in grit and abortion blood.
OK, my most recently finished Ellroy tome, and I liked it as much as his others for many of the same reasons. Sharp, concise prose, insight and details concerning the ambitions of a certain police officer looking for his big break, and the fallout from same. Along the way family, love, lust, shame and murder come together, imbuing the whole tale with the darkish noir elements which Ellroy and other writers of this ilk employ in fine fashion. Good plot, which also includes mention and inclusion o...more
Allison C. McCulloch
Sep 13, 2008 Allison C. McCulloch rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: film noir lovers
8/28 - So far I am not into it. Most of the storylines are just not that great. Once in awhile there will be a part I like, but then it just ends. Kinda sad.

9/9 - the book got better then worse, then better then worse, then better again. I don't know why, but this book doesn't seem to be very consistent, but it has finally reeled me in.

9/13 - then it got better and I finished it today. Lots of background description, but he got to the point and tied it together. Would have been a schmaltzy endin...more
El prodigio. Sólo muy de vez en cuando surge en una novela. El autor te atrapa y te lleva allí donde quiere y sólo allí. No están permitidas las disgresiones ni las distracciones, no puedes imaginar, no puedes suponer, sólo leer, página tras página, mientras el autor hace contigo lo que quiere. Sin embargo, y porque sabes que estás siendo utilizado, manipulado, es de esos libros que estás deseando acabar, que termine de una vez. Esto me ha pasado a mí con 'Clandestino'. Pura literatura. El prodi...more
Jim Holscher
Excellent writing. Ellroy of course is master of staccato pacing. This is a must read for any Ellroy fan.
Ed James
Really enjoyed it. Not as good as his later stuff, but it was pretty fluid and rattled along in a way that his other stuff doesn't. It gets a bit odd near the end, but was pretty enjoyable.

I'm not sure why this isn't part of the LA quartet given how it shares a large part of the monstrous cast and is continuity (eg the black dahlia is mentioned).
A good read with plenty of turns in the plot. I will need to read more James Ellroy to determine an opinion of his writing. I liked the story line and I liked Freddy. He was a true detective and a seeker of justice - perhaps a Freddy strayed a little off compass with the dispensing of justice in the final pages. Which James Ellroy should I read next?
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James Ellroy was born in Los Angeles in 1948. His L.A. Quartet novels—The Black Dahlia, The Big Nowhere, L.A. Confidential, and White Jazz—were international best sellers. His novel American Tabloid was Time magazine’s Best Book (fiction) of 1995; his memoir, My Dark Places, was a Time Best Book of the Year and a New York Times Notable Book for 1996. His novel The Cold Six Thousand was a New York...more
More about James Ellroy...
The Black Dahlia (L.A. Quartet, #1) L.A. Confidential (L.A. Quartet, #3) American Tabloid (Underworld USA, #1) The Big Nowhere White Jazz (L.A. Quartet, #4)

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