Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “L.A. '56: A Devil in the City of Angels” as Want to Read:
L.A. '56: A Devil in the City of Angels
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

L.A. '56: A Devil in the City of Angels

3.75 of 5 stars 3.75  ·  rating details  ·  72 ratings  ·  23 reviews
Los Angeles, 1956. Glamorous. Prosperous. The place to see and be seen. But beneath the shiny exterior beats a dark heart. For when the sun goes down, L.A. becomes the noir city of James Ellroy’s L.A. Confidential or Walter Mosley’s Easy Rawlins novels. Segregation is the unwritten law of the land. The growing black population is expected to keep to South Central. The whit ...more
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published April 10th 2012 by Thomas Dunne Books
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about L.A. '56, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about L.A. '56

In Cold Blood by Truman CapoteMidnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John BerendtHelter Skelter by Vincent BugliosiThe Devil in the White City by Erik LarsonThe Stranger Beside Me by Ann Rule
True Crime--Well Written
83rd out of 174 books — 136 voters
The Devil in the White City by Erik LarsonThe Suspicions of Mr. Whicher by Kate SummerscaleDead Wrong by Richard BelzerThe Killer of Little Shepherds by Douglas StarrThe Murder of the Century by Paul  Collins
best historical true crime books
82nd out of 90 books — 64 voters


More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 158)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Charles
Ok, an interesting read that somewhat blurs the lines between fiction and non-fiction. Obviously a great deal of the dialogue was fictionalized in order to make this an interesting and dramatic read.

Was a bit disappointed how long it took to build up steam and finally nail the criminal. However, this disappointing pace did provide some interesting and peculiar insights into the criminal's odd, little mind.

Was hoping for a bit more on the gritty, noir life that ws LA at the time, but it did offer
...more
Paul Pessolano
“L.A. ‘56” by Joel Engel, published by Thomas Dunne Books.

Category – True Crime

Whether you are a fan of True Crime, Mystery/Thriller, or just an excellent – make that superb – read. This book will even of interest to those who enjoy Fiction/Literature and Biographies.

Detective Danny Galindo, who worked on both the “Black Dahlia” and “Manson Murders”, is faced with tracking down a serial rapist.

Galindo is also faced with a Los Angeles that is very segregated. Segregated in real estate, segregated
...more
Matt
This was a good read but on the disturbing side for sure. Pretty graphic right out of the gate and does a pretty good job keeping up the discomfort throughout. Well written, kept me engaged, and had a nice flow.

Does a good job injecting relative news and headlines throughout the book to set the period and environment.

Overall I took away the intent of the aiuthor which was to let you into the mind of a trully disturbed individual and the ultimately the irony of fate in some circumstances.

This
...more
Patrick O'Neil
Joel Engel's L.A. '56: A Devil in the City of Angels is a hybrid work of true crime/nonfiction and fiction. I know that sounds clichéd, slightly chaotic, and whole lot less descriptive than it should. But it's really true. Engel did his research, dug up a bunch of facts surrounding the case, interviewing prominent participants, and investigated related news stories from the same time – all of which he includes in his book. However, and here's where it gets weird, in an effort to create character ...more
Alyce Rocco
A good read. L.A. '56 by Joel Engle is subtitled: A Devil in the City of Angels.

In Chapter 1 readers are introduced to Willie Roscoe Fields. It becomes obvious Willie is the devil in Los Angeles California.

In Chapter 2 readers meet Detective Danny Galindo. He is one of the first Mexican/Americans to be employed by the LAPD. After a woman is butchered in 1947 there were nearly 150 confessions to the crime ~ 38 of the people claiming to be responsible for the gruesome crime spoke only Spanish. D
...more
Tyler
I think this book captures the soul of L.A. better than L.A. Noir: The Struggle for the Soul of America's Most Seductive City even though it just glosses over the stories.

The whole unreported history of the African-American community is eye-opening and sad.

I really appreciate this book for introducing me to Galindo. That guy is the real deal if there ever was.

I'm very unsure how Fields's side was complied since it seems no one ever wants to talk about Fields. I wish there was more explanation
...more
Syntactical Disruptorize
I've griped about true crime novels that suck -- poorly organized piles of text. Engel gets it right in this one. Don't expect justice to triumph, exactly, but do expect real people rendered as such.
Sherry
Fast paced, interesting true- crime. I don't usually go in for the true crime books, like fiction more, but I thought this one looked interesting when I was looking at new books at the library. Very glad I picked it up. It read much like a Michael Connelly novel. I liked the perspective on L.A. during the late 50's, the integration/desegregation angle that you don't really get too much of these days, including real newspaper stories from the papers. Anyone who is interested in crime, L.A. or jus ...more
Erica
I debated giving this book 3 or 4 stars. Although the author's note mentions that some conversations were made up and based on research, I still feel as though this nonfiction is quite fictional. Yes, it's based on a true story and I'm sure Danny's information is fairly accurate and based on interviews, but I still had that feeling.
That being said, I give it 4 stars because I quite enjoyed it. It was a lighter read, but I enjoyed my time with it while I was riding the bus. I would recommend it
...more
Joshua
Short, terse, kind of sleazy true crime book set in Los Angeles, 1956, as a serial rapist preys on young people parked on various "Lovers Lanes" around the city. Pretending to be a cop, the guy separates male from female and then rapes the woman. Engel writes about the crimes in vivid detail [hence the sleazy vibe] while also following a Mexican-American detective who is trying to find the rapist while a wrongly arrested L.A. cop sits behind bars. Fast read, lurid and will be of interest to anyo ...more
Marco Subias
This is a slightly novelized version of a real-life noire police story which took place in 1956. The two main characters are a smart Mexican-American war hero and police detective, and a brutal serial rapist. Los Angeles at a time when the racial and ethnic dynamics are slowly changing and segregation is starting to give way could also be seen as a character. This is a really interesting story which I really enjoyed. Like L.A. Confidential? Read a real-life take on cops and crime in L.A.!
Rebecca
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Michelle
Very engaging. As a current resident of LA, I found his references to specifics streets and landmarks interesting. Learned a little about local history regarding the now demolished Los Angeles Wrigley field which was not too far where I currently work. Great re-imagined dialouge and clear storytelling. Highly recommend if you enjoy true stories.
Dewayne Stark
To see my comments on this book go to my blog at http://kayamawasailor.blogspot.com/
Misty
This is a non fiction book that reads like it is fiction. The way the author writes it is horrible. I picked this up because it was a true story but instead it was a book based on a true story. The dialogue was made up and so were one of the entire character's point of view.
Jeanette
I'm a true crime buff and this was interesting because it is a case that hadn't been covered. It also has links to other cases; the primary detective, one of the first Hispanic detectives on the LA force, also investigated the Blue Dahlia and the Manson murders.
Martin  Poblete
Started off a little slow , but very quickly picked up. very disturbing and not really for the faint at heart.. but it really paints a good portrait of life in 1956.
Michael
Solid book. Despite recognizing the name Danny Galindo from other true crime books, I didn't realize this was also a true story. Well written.
Kurt
My dad and brother both said OJ Simpson was framed. I never believed that until I read this book. Now I think they were right.
Al Stoess
Nov 07, 2012 Al Stoess rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: True crime readers
True Crime. Not the best written. Love story - good. Ending not good - bad guy survives and does well.
Nancie
How can this not be a best-selling book? The best L.A. true crime/noir story since John Buntin's L.A. Noir.
Diana Weaver
Wow -- was this a great read about a little known serial killer in Los Angeles.
Cindy
Language a little rough, interesting true story.
Carly Nicholas
Carly Nicholas marked it as to-read
Mar 06, 2015
Bryan Shanks
Bryan Shanks marked it as to-read
Feb 17, 2015
Hunter Saylor
Hunter Saylor marked it as to-read
Feb 15, 2015
Daisy
Daisy marked it as to-read
Jan 13, 2015
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
Joel Engel authored or co-authored more than 15 books (including a New York Times bestseller)—narrative nonfiction, essays, sports, satire, pop culture, biography, and autobiography. As a journalist for the New York Times and Los Angeles Times, among other papers and periodicals, Engel reported on everything from politics to hot-air ballooning, pregnancy to cancer research, pop culture to business ...more
More about Joel Engel...
Oscar-Winning Screenwriters On Screenwriting: The Award-Winning Best in the Business Discuss Their Craft Screenwriters on Screenwriting Rod Serling: The Dreams and Nightmares of Life in the Twilight Zone Gene Roddenberry: The Myth and the Man Behind "Star Trek" Last Stop, The Twilight Zone: The Biography of Rod Serling

Share This Book