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L.A. Confidential (L.A. Quartet #3)

4.2  ·  Rating Details ·  22,950 Ratings  ·  620 Reviews
Christmas 1951, Los Angeles: a city where the police are as crooked as the criminals.

Six prisoners are beaten senseless in their cells by cops crazed on alcohol. For the three L.A.P.D. detectives involved, it will expose the guilty secrets on which they have built their corrupt and violent careers...
Paperback, 496 pages
Published February 17th 1994 by Arrow (first published 1990)
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Jonathan It's definitely not mandatory, but having read the first three books in the series in the proper order, it does give you a better sense of what's…moreIt's definitely not mandatory, but having read the first three books in the series in the proper order, it does give you a better sense of what's going on behind what's actually being said.

There are only minor tie-ins between all four books in the series, and if I'm remembering correctly, it only really has to do with one fairly major character.

All it really did for me was bring a bit of nostalgia and recognition to the books. It put a smile on my face reading about him being up to the same old thing; but it's definitely not something that you would worry about or go out of your way to do.

I was in the same boat as you are right now, and if L.A. Confidential is the only book in the series that you plan on reading, I wouldn't concern yourself with any of the others and you'll be perfectly fine.

Let me know what you think and I hope that you enjoy your reading.

Take care.

Jonathan (less)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Dan Schwent
Aug 17, 2016 Dan Schwent rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016, 2016-books
In the aftermath of the Bloody Christmas, the lives of three cops are forever entwined; Ed Exley, the by the book cop who is forever in his father's shadow, glory hound Jack Vincennes, and Bud White, the man forever avenging his dead mother. After six people are killed in the Nite Owl Massacre, can the three men co-exist working the same case or will they all go down in flames?

L.A. Confidential is an epic crime tale spanning nearly a decade, a tale of corruption, greed, drugs, pornography, and m
We’ve all heard of the Good-Cop/Bad-Cop routine, but when you read a James Ellroy novel it’s more like Bad-Cop/Worse-Cop/Crimes-Against-Humanity-Cop.

This third installment in the L.A. Quartet introduces us to another trio of police officers who wouldn't last ten minutes on the job if there were smart phones in the 1950s which could have recorded their many misdeeds. Ed Exley is a brilliant detective, but his physical cowardice is exceeded only by his ruthless ambition. Bud White is a thug who ne
Richard Vialet
L.A. Confidential feels like the book that James Ellroy has been preparing for and working up to during his entire career up to this point. He takes all of the themes he explored in previous novels and packs them into a book that's an even larger, more epic tale of crime, perversion, and Hollywood corruption than any of his previous books. L.A. Confidential tells the story of three LAPD officers who are initially at odds with one another after the infamous Bloody Christmas police brutality scand ...more
Cathy DuPont
Oct 06, 2013 Cathy DuPont rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Noir lovers
1) Yes, this was excellent.
2) Yes, this was hard-boiled.
3) Yes, this had confusing storylines.
4) Yes, this book needed a list of characters (unless you have an incredible memory.)
5) Yes, I wanted to give this book a solid five stars.

I have been wanting to read this great book for years, then when I saw I had 10 friends who read it, it became a must read now. Of those 10 friends, five gave it four stars and five five stars, so I knew it was great.

Ellroy wrote The Black Dahalia which I loved, g
Jun 04, 2011 Darwin8u rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2015
"Whatever you desire."


" passage for ruthless men in love."


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 urtex
The never-ending parade of homogenous macho cops; the weak, dependable women - perfect victims for any crime; the overwhelmingly complex story line, sub-plot within sub-plot, twist upon twist - all that delivered in a flat, dry style. That's an Ellroy novel for you.

I know that it's supposed to add up to this intricate, dark story interwoven with sex and violence and thus gripping, like nothing else. But I, frankly, was bored to death. The scheming was a tad too elaborate for my taste. After a w
I had seen the superb movie many times (it's in my top five) before reading this book, and wondered how the two would compare. Ellroy's novel is also superb, and in some ways the movie reads directly from it (much of the dialogue is lifted verbatim) but there are huge differences.

Fit into a couple hours and what feels like a year's worth of time, the movie is much more concise. The book is far more sprawling, taking place over almost a decade, connecting to both the prequel (The Big Nowhere, ou
Since at least The Black Dahlia Ellroy has been kicking at the walls to the crime genre with a gleeful gleam in his eye, going for more and more setting, characters, scope and layers upon layers of plot as well as honing and shaping his prose into something more quick and lethal. The Big Nowhere was a major step in this direction and by the prologue of this book the walls are shattered and Ellroy's off and running with his sprawling vision of L.A. from '50 to '58 and an utterly complex series of ...more
May 14, 2015 Leonard rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime-mystery
No redemption in James Ellroy’s L.A. Confidential

More corrupted cops, conniving DAs, ruthless gangsters, psychopathic killers. Less truth and even less justice in the City of the Angels. Welcome to the world of James Ellroy. More setups, more cover-ups, more fall guys, more hush-hushes. Likeable characters? Not in this novel. Heroes and good guys? Sure, plenty in the news (besides here at Hush-Hush). Just don’t look in the closet or underneath the carpet. Redemption? Only if you’ve been living u
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
couldn't get past the racial epithets and cynicism about the human race. i read enough about such misery in headlines.
Roman Clodia
Nov 23, 2016 Roman Clodia rated it really liked it
So, my first Ellroy and I can say with certainly that I'll be back. Make no mistake, this is a raw, brutal and uncompromising tale of crime, corruption and conspiracies interspersed with some harsh morality and scenes of shocking violence (view spoiler).

Despite the length of the book, Ellroy's prose is so abbreviated, so fast-paced, that it propels us through the story at a breakneck speed: it has energy and velocity and a kind of dynamism abou
Sep 18, 2008 Gemma rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I can't do it. I hate the jivey style-- it tries too hard. It is a parody of itself.

I know that white cops in the 50s were racist-- I get it-- but the racism is almost sadistic in this book. Like, did we really need all that detail? All those epithets? Really?

Maybe I started reading this under false pretenses. I was like "Old Hollywood! True crime! Pavement-pounding cops!" I love the idea of L.A. in the 50s, the seedy underbelly of all that glamor. I love crime writing, I love portraits of kill
Jul 18, 2016 Lauren rated it it was amazing
Shelves: historical, crime, mystery
L.A. Confidential begins by clearing away any hope you had left after the end of The Big Nowhere. Then Ellroy rubs his hands together and really gets going, with this shaggy, incredible novel of justice, violence, politicking, and redemption.

Our LAPD trio here is Edmund "Ed" Exley, Wendell "Bud" White, and "Trashcan" Jack Vincennes. Vincennes is a consultant for the upright TV show Badge of Honor and the darling boy of Hush-Hush magazine, but even though he makes frequent appearances as a heroic
Steven Belanger
Feb 08, 2011 Steven Belanger rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In terms of perfection, I give this one a slight nod over The Black Dahlia, and the only reason I can give you is that I got that feeling as I was reading it. You just get this strong sensation that you are reading something great, something unique that will stand as the best of its type. Perhaps some of it is in retrospect, as I finished this long ago, and certainly the excellent movie helps the idea. (The movie is perhaps a classic of its type as well.)

To give you an idea of how complex the pl
Jun 24, 2011 Sarah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It should be noted this is a genre book, that the dark and twisted streets here aren't for everyone. If as a child you weren't willing to poke corpses with a stick or pick up rocks to watch the squirming, seething masses of insects swarm - maybe you should pass on Ellroy.

Darker than dark, Ellroy's noir makes other noir books look like silver in comparison. He's true to his era - go watch some movies from the 50s if you don't agree. I'll wait. See how the slang was different? Yeah, that happens.

Serena.. Sery-ously?
Aug 19, 2015 Serena.. Sery-ously? rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
Mi chiedo sinceramente come possa aver letto questo libro solo a 25 anni compiuti..

L.A. Confidential è un pilastro. Punto.
Uno di quei pilastri che TUTTI dovrebbero leggere, non so se rendo..

Crudo, cattivo, scorretto, impietoso ma intelligente, adrenalico e CAVOLI se è un "OMG"!.

Nota di grande biasimo per il traduttore che spero stia passando il resto della sua vita a Guantanamo per crimini contro l'umanità, perché se avessi voluto un libro tradotto come avrebbe potuto fare un cane usando googl
Dec 01, 2012 Ffiamma rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: americana
imponente e ambizioso, nella struttura: trame e sottotrame, storie intricatissime che s'intrecciano e si ricongiungono nel finale che risolve ogni interrogativo e chiude il cerchio. personaggi che sono, allo stesso tempo, archetipici e vivi: poliziotti corrotti, gangster, spacciatori di qualunque cosa e sostanza, prostitute (nessuno è come sembra, poi- e questo li rende umani). impianto narrativo d'altri tempi ma stile da romanzo di genere- ecco il voto appena più basso di quel che dovrebbe esse ...more
K Kamath
Sep 06, 2011 K Kamath rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The fiction I can think of, short-stories and novels, which is worse in prose than rendered on the screen includes, The Godfather, LA Confidential, The Duellists, possibly Ben-Hur. To Have and Have Not offers a case where the film shares the same title as the novella but is just different. One could argue that is true a lot, most movies are different from the literary sources, but to leave the thinking only that far would be a sign of mental laziness, a common condition among our contemporaries. ...more
Oct 20, 2016 Aries rated it really liked it
Shelves: thriller, giallo
Aneddoto: tanti, tantissimi anni fa, quando ancora non avevo quasi mai letto thriller, mi fu regalato "Io uccido" di Faletti. Mi piacque molto e mi colpì soprattutto lo stile. Quando, tempo dopo, iniziai a leggere Deaver mi resi conto che quello stile che avevo trovato così nuovo e interessante era, in realtà, derivato (con una perdita nel processo, c'è da dirlo) proprio dal buon Jeffery; Faletti (che era anche amico di Deaver) era figlio dello stile e della narrazione dell'autore statunitense.

Scott Sigler
I loved this book. I'm probably going to mainline the rest of the series in short order. Ellroy's writing style is fantastic: concise and punchy, with only the bare minimum words needed to communicate the message. I've never read anything quite like it, and it's already had an impact on my writing style.

Why only four stars? I'm not a big reader of the crime genre, and I wasn't prepared for the density and intricacy of this plot. Honestly, I had only a general idea of what was going on most of t
I remember the movie from a while ago, and I do enjoy a good James Ellroy novel, so I was excited to read LA Confidential. To my surprised this book seems a bit all over the place, more so than usual and at times I struggled to keep up with what is happening. I know Ellroy likes to have a lot happening at his complex plots do come together but I did feel like it was a bit too much like a chore to keep up in this book.

LA Confidential is about organized crime, politics, corruption, drugs, pornogr
Krok Zero
I was debating between 3/5 or 4/5...I'd go with 3.5/5 if I could. But as good as Ellroy is, L.A. Confidential seems really structurally problematic to me. The plotting is insanely intricate, yes, which isn't really a demerit in itself. Ellroy is such a plot machinist that at times it is impossible to keep up with him. And I'm not entirely sure that he kept up with himself, in this case. But for most of the way I was happily trusting him and letting myself get swept up in the world of the story. ...more
Aug 02, 2009 Meghan rated it liked it
Reading this made me appreciate just how good a job the screenwriters did when adapting it for film. Don't get me wrong, the book is good--suspenseful, expansive, a proper *big* novel--but it feels, particularly at the end, like everything including the bloodied kitchen sink has gone into it. Drugs? Check. Prostitution? Check. Child molesters, women haters, police corruption, organised crime, Los Angeles highway system? Cheeeeck. Also, a few of the characters feel like near-carbon copies of each ...more
Bruce Beckham
Sep 06, 2016 Bruce Beckham rated it did not like it
Perhaps I've been reading too many Agatha Christies, but this one defeated me almost from the word go.

Now I really enjoyed 'The Black Dahlia' by the same author, so I couldn't quite understand what my problem was with 'L.A. Confidential' - such a famous title, and all that.

I thought I could deal with the 1950s west coast cop and narco jargon - though it comes at you like a hail of bullets - not easy for a Limey accustomed to bobbies armed strictly with truncheons and the occasional "Cor blimey".
Jul 28, 2011 Sean rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Arun Divakar
Apr 02, 2011 Arun Divakar rated it liked it
It's a little boy's dream : grow up and become a Cop. Beat up the bad guys, Shoot'em up, walk around in uniform. The little boys grow up, they see the real life cops and the dreams begin to fade and lose color. It's probably a life of dealing with what society calls scum that pushes many men over the edge into corruption and outright thuggery. L.A. Confidential is cops, all about cops and nothing but cops.

There is a heinous crime which acts as the fulcrum and the entire story revolves around it.
Tim Niland
Apr 17, 2015 Tim Niland rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2015-reads
This is perhaps crime novelist James Elroy's best known novel following an excellent movie adaptation starring Russel Crowe and Kim Basinger. But the book is so much better (isn't it always?) This is the story of crime in Los Angeles in the 1950's, the perfect place and time to set an epic noir story. The plot follows a number of police officers as they investigate the horrific murder of six people at a cafe only to see the crime weave into a a web of pornography, prostitution, corruption and dr ...more
Aug 22, 2012 Robert rated it it was amazing
"In the tradition of Raymond Chandler's crime fiction comes this story of three tortured souls in the 1950s LAPD: a clean-cut cop who lives shivering in the shadow of his dad, his colleague who busts movie stars for payoffs from a sleazy magazine; and a detective haunted by the sight of his mother's murder. Intensity mounts as the novel's various plots intertwine more."

The movie is in my 'top 10 best movies' of all time...faithfully adapted from the book. Plot, characters, atmosphere, suspense,
Miss Karen Jean Martinson
This book sustained our cross-country road trip - from LA to Chicago for new beginnings and my new job. 3 adults and 2 cats in the cab of a U-Haul truck. And our "stories," which gave birth to such in-jokes as "Roller Skating Mom Porn."

I had seen the movie, but the audio book was great - a great reader and just the right amount of plot-heavy movement that makes for a great audiobook. I find Ellroy's prose to be a bit much when I'm reading it, but put it in the mouth of an exceptional actor and
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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...

Other Books in the Series

L.A. Quartet (4 books)
  • The Black Dahlia (L.A. Quartet, #1)
  • The Big Nowhere (L.A. Quartet, #2)
  • White Jazz (L.A. Quartet, #4)

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“Some men get the world, some men get ex-hookers and a trip to Arizona. You're in with the former, but my God I don't envy the blood on your conscience.” 25 likes
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