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White Jazz

(L.A. Quartet #4)

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  7,262 ratings  ·  312 reviews
Los Angeles, 1958. Killings, beatings, bribes, shakedowns--it's standard procedure for Lieutenant Dave Klein, LAPD. He's a slumlord, a bagman, an enforcer--a power in his own small corner of hell. Then the Feds announce a full-out investigation into local police corruption, and everything goes haywire.

Klein's been hung out as bait, "a bad cop to draw the heat,"
Mass Market Paperback, 368 pages
Published April 24th 2001 by Fawcett (first published September 1st 1992)
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Jason Robertson Holding the book right now. 'First published in 1992'. Someone probably put in incorrect info when creating the listing.
Josh Priscott After just finishing all of the LA quartet I feel that all 4 can be read as stand alone books. But if you want to enhance the experience of the world…moreAfter just finishing all of the LA quartet I feel that all 4 can be read as stand alone books. But if you want to enhance the experience of the world Ellroy creates then you definitely want to read all of them, preferably in the right order. There are characters that dip in and out of the stories in varying degrees, eg. Exley plays a major role in LA Confidential and White Jazz, whereas Pete Bondurant Crosses over from White Jazz to American Tabloid, but to a lesser degree. Saying that though, I read American Tabloid first and was pleasantly surprised about Pete Bondurants appearance. Hope this helps, I've only recently got into Ellroy and I'm loving it! (less)

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Average rating 3.94  · 
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 ·  7,262 ratings  ·  312 reviews

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Dan Schwent
Sep 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016, 2016-books
When Dave Klein, the dirtiest cop in town, catches a burglary, he quickly becomes entangled in a web of drugs, prostitution, and murder...

James Ellroy's four volume treatise on family values and the integrity of the Los Angeles police department comes to a conclusion in White Jazz. White Jazz ties up some nagging lose ends leftover from the previous three volumes. Gone is the "trinity of sin" structure of The Big Nowhere and L.A. Confidential, replaced by a first person narrator, a throwback to The Blac
This conclusion to James Ellroy’s L.A. Quartet is just as wholesome and uplifting as the previous three books with his usual cast of characters such as corrupt cops, gangsters, hustlers, blackmailers, shakedown artists, bag men, thieves, junkies, drug dealers, dog killers, whores, johns, pimps, peepers, perverts, panty sniffers, and politicians. Oh, and most of them are killers, racist, and/or incestuous as a bonus, and that includes the hero of the novel.

It's 1958 and LAPD Lieutenant Dave
Jeffrey Keeten
”All I have is the will to remember. Time revoked/fever dreams--I wake up reaching, afraid I'll forget. Pictures keep the woman young.

L.A., fall 1958.

Newsprint: link the dots. Names, events--so brutal they beg to be connected. Years down--the story stays dispersed. The names are dead or too guilty to tell.

I'm old, afraid I'll forget:
I killed innocent men.
I betrayed sacred oaths.
I reaped profit from horror.
Fever--that time burning.
I want to go with the music-spin, fall with it.”

Oct 04, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
"in the end I possess my birthplace and I am possessed by its language."
-- Ross MacDonald."


"Tell me anything
Tell me everything.
Revoke our time apart.
Love me fierce in danger."

-- James Ellroy, White Jazz

4.5 stars. Sure, you could read this as just the final book in Ellory's masterpiece LA Quartet, but Ellory is playing for bigger stakes. He isn't just writing crime. He is writing the human condition. He isn't just givingclass="gr-hostedUserImg">
Every time I've finished an Ellroy book, I've had to sit back and process everything, climb up out of his world, shake my brain free of his expert grasp. With White Jazz, he concludes his epic "L.A. Quartet," by narrowing his focus even more so than in The Black Dahlia , and miles away from the gargantuan L.A. Confidential . Returning to first-person narration and a single protagonist, Ellroy presents a portrait of racist and corrupt police lieutenant Dave Klein, who finds himself a pawn in a law enforcement politic ...more
Krok Zero
Jul 26, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: summer-2011
Feature this is one of Ellroy's best.

Dig the economy: scale back the unsustainable sprawl of L.A. Confidential—streamline it. The catch: still cram a CRAAAZY amount of wild plot into a relatively small frame.

Single protagonist, single POV—a departure. NO redemptive qualities for the protag: Ellroy's most tainted hero. First-person narration—sharp, minimalistic. Fractured consciousness: a dirty cop seen FROM THE INSIDE OUT.

Style: heavy—but not off-putting or hard to read like future
Lieutenant Dave Klein is not a nice man. In fact, he’s as crooked a cop as one is likely to find. He's a slumlord, a bagman, an occasional hitman and a clever schemer. His newest case is an investigation involving the breaking and entering of drug kingpin’s home. His investigation will lead him to be officially on everyone’s list, as his past is catching up to him, and for every friend he’s made through his actions, he’s made a ton more enemies.

I think it is safe to say that as a whole, Ellroy’
Wes Freeman
Jun 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When I was reading them, each entry in the L.A. Quartet was my favorite book. Kinda awe inspiring to watch James Ellroy move from a style your 11th-grade English teacher might have described as "economical" to a one so determinedly spare it makes Hemingway seem profligate. 'Long about L.A. Confidential, we see him start to use sentences like "Bud, soft." and I started to love things about the English language I'd forgotten about, like how having too many words means you don't need as many rules ...more
RE-READ REVIEW: I'll leave my original review from 2014 up, but I just re-read this and I have no idea what I was thinking giving this four stars originally. It's easily at the same level of brilliance as The Big Nowhere or L.A. Confidential. I suspect that when I inevitably re-read The Black Dahlia I'll give it five as well, because Ellroy is a goddamn genius. Dave "The Enforcer" Klein is the ultimate Ellroy character, an incredibly dirty motherfucker who kills people for the mob and wants to pork his own sister, yet I ...more
Anthony Ryan
Jul 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The fourth volume in Ellroy's LA Quartet sees a stylistic shift from his previous work as he adopts the paired down, staccato prose which has since become his trademark. LAPD detective and occasional mob-hitman Dave Klein develops a dangerous obsession which will set him on a potentially fatal collision course with the dread Dudley Smith. 1950's LA is presented as a cess pit of vice, corruption and murderous cruelty, the horrors somehow made worse by the Ellroy's unadorned language. Recommended ...more
Feb 13, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Feature: Chief of Detectives Edmund Exley, the once morally ambiguous hotshot in LA Confidential, now revealed to be a dangerously polished hyena is mad at the Feds, who are now launching a full fledged investigation into the gutter that is the LAPD. At one of his many press conferences, he says of the probe: "It will fail because he (the Fed head of the probe, Welles Noonan) has grievously underestimated the moral rectitude of the Los Angeles Police Department." No such luck, moral rectitude is ...more
Jul 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime, historical, mystery
"I fix things, Exley runs things."

(I'm not going to go out of my way to spoil the previous novels, but I'm writing this assuming you've read L.A. Confidential at the very least.)

At its best, White Jazz feels like it's in the process of rewiring my brain. Ellroy's patented staccato goes beyond style here and almost becomes its own genre, a feverish fury of cross-connections, revelations, instincts, and revulsion. What makes it work is that here we lose the Ellroy trio for a singular narrative, Dave Klei
Jul 31, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 22, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: hepcats
Recommended to Jeff by: jacob hatley/stephen brower
hush-hush magazine, 5/2/08

feature this hepcats:

north-carolinian noir knuckleheads hook respectable rushdie reader on amphetamine-amped narratively-novel nonsense lit. _white jazz_ delivers double dose of goofball graft and convoluted criminal crosses, but chavez ravine/fed-LAPD probe context can't compete with _american tabloid_'s epic evisceration of early 60s political posturing.

all on the QT and very hush-hush.
Phil Mc
Jul 28, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The final instalment of Ellroy’s L.A. Quartet and, sadly, the worst by a country mile. The clipped, staccato sentences that work so well in the earlier novels have now become disjointed lists with occasional function words thrown in hither and thither. Ellroy has virtually parodied his own style and it makes for an incredibly annoying and difficult novel to read.

The story focuses on Dave Klein, a corrupt cop, and his attempts to unravel more crimes than I can relate here; however, th
Feb 26, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Saying that nobody writes like Ellroy is like saying nobody invents atomic bombs like Einstein. Working my way back through my favorite Ellroys begins with White Jazz, which is hands-down my favorite. Clooney should get off his ass and star in the movie already. Although I think Don Draper would make a fine Dave Klein, too. GET IT DONE, ASSBAGS!
Even burning the dross off of prose leaves something haunted. The menace in Ellroy's streets is a puzzling presence, certainly along the likes of Mieville and Sinclair as it detours into origins and auras, Merleau-Ponty's flux made manifest in gridded streets and contained populations and vices. Ellroy slipped some going into the final act: hyperbole infected his plot and pus reigned supreme. Why have a voyeur/killer plot with incest overtones when one can fashion a virtual tribe of such, all of ...more
Asghar Abbas
Sep 13, 2016 rated it really liked it

2008. Music. Virginia. Good intentions. Bad people. That's all you need to know.
S.P. Aruna
3.5 stars

I guess I should have started with L.A. Confidential and The Big Nowhere, as this one is supposed to be the last of the L.A. Quartet, but I grabbed the paperback (I have kindles of the other 2),.

Once again, we have Ellroy's relentless theme of police corruption, which in this book a large chunk of which is allocated to the anti-hero, Dave Klein, the narrator. He manically skitters here and there, leading a double life as cop and thug, both committing and investigating crimes while playing off those a
C.M. Crockford
Dec 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels, genre, crimes
Where LA Confidential is a moral panorama of casual corruption and acts of kindness breaking through the dark, White Jazz, the sequel, is fixated on utter damnation. The only things that can redeem Klein in the end are his love, that he's not as remarkably evil as Dudley, and his yearning in the present day for what was, for what he had to miss, the need to be "borne back ceaselessly into the past." Ellroy's language is even more ruthlessly chopped up, as liquified and simple as veggies in a ble ...more
Aug 21, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, crime, pop-lit
Holy stream of consciousness, Batman! That's what stands out in this novel is the narrative style chosen by Ellroy. It can be somewhat jarring at first, but once you slip into the patter, it frequently lends something strong and tangible to the story, allowing the reader to come closer to our hero (?) Dave Klein, an uber-crooked cop, trying to solve a few mysteries, work a side gig for Howard Hughes, track down a malicious voyeur, and juggle the L.A. Mob, the LAPD, and the Feds.

But while the st
Andrew Yuen
In my first attempt reading White Jazz, I could not understand a thing.

Ellroy's book reads like frenetically, a staccato shorthand from a police stenographer's fever dream. It exhausted me. Here I was, a boy at seventeen and wet behind the ears, born ten thousand kilometers from L.A, born fifty years away from its noir setting. What would I know?

I put the book down.

A few months later, I began to read it again. The prose flowed. It spoke to me. The dark places of very dark men. What
Jun 27, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime-fiction
Take the least interesting aspects of bad Film Noir scripts, magnify them, enhance with cardboard dialog, add a generous but unnecessary dose of F-word, N-word and others in a silly attempt to achieve a snappy style, and you are left with the utter failure that is White Jazz.

Ellroy seems to have fallen victim to his own success with this one. The speech patterns of 1950's L.A. hipsters, gangsters and cops do not a readable novel make.
Jul 18, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime-mystery
Lad, Captain Dudley Smith gets his due. Yeah, containment. Contained. Wink (to the extend that he can still wink).

Remember, dear reader: you heard it here first, off-the-record, on the Q.T., and very Hush Hush.
Apr 02, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime-noir
My least favorite of Ellroy's L.A. Quartet, since the style is just too clipped and fragmented to absorb. Very similar (in a bad way) to The Cold Six Thousand.
To conclude his first LA Quartet, James Ellroy goes back to his roots a little: the entirety of this book is told in the first person as opposed to the shifting points-of-view we usually get from his other stuff. The result is as my headline says: an entertaining mess.

When reading the first few chapters, I was relieved to only have to follow one character’s motives instead of three or four. But as with the rest of his books, the plotting here is dense and having it filtered through t
Aug 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
White Jazz is a gripping finale to one of the greatest ever crime series

This review does not contain any spoiler pertaining to White Jazz however it does give out the name of the characters who return from previous Ellroy books

White Jazz, the final book in the LA quartet series (it's more of a trilogy, the first book is set in the same universe but has got no bearing on other books. White Jazz however is the direct sequel to LA Confidential so at least reading that before this one/>
Feb 08, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'd like to give it 4 and a half stars. The only aspect I haven't really liked was the unorthodox prose style, but you get used to it on ~400 pages.
Other than that it's some great hardboiled noire stuff with characters ranging from black to medium gray at the most on the morality color scale. No (boring) white knights or princesses here.
I was a bit disappointed with the resolution of the "whodunnit" part, but honestly, it isn't the main attraction in the story anyway.
Jul 19, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Dave Klein is having trouble sleeping. When he's not at his usual gig as the commander of LAPD's vice squad, he's working around the clock as a slumlord, an extortionist, and a mafia hit-man. The Feds are circling his whole dirty department, and his Chief of Detectives (Edmund Exley, making a return appearance) is setting him up to draw heat. Plus, his new partner is acting mighty suspicious, and this peeping tom case they're working keeps reminding Dave of the incestuous feelings he has for his ...more
Ivailo Sarandev
Dec 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, owned
Chaotic. Frenetic. Maddeningly tense & sometimes, often, what am I saying - always! - fascinatingly CRAAAAZY!

'White Jazz' is as close as you can get, when reading a book, to the adrenaline of a 'running-out-of-time' high-speed chase around a gritty, merciless town, exhausting option after option, losing minute after minute, hoping for your miraculous salvation, never having it in sight, always on the brink of despair and running out of hope, juice and simply feeling the life slip
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The Mystery, Crim...: White Jazz by James Ellroy 9 108 Apr 07, 2019 02:58PM  

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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 Times Notable Book and a Los Angeles Times Best Book for 2001. Ellroy lives in Los Angeles.<novels—The ...more

Other books in the series

L.A. Quartet (4 books)
  • The Black Dahlia (L.A. Quartet, #1)
  • The Big Nowhere (L.A. Quartet, #2)
  • L.A. Confidential (L.A. Quartet, #3)
“Tell me anything.
Tell me everything.
Revoke our time apart.
Love me fierce in danger.”
“Canned shtick—Pete gleeful:
‘The left one's the hospital, the right one's death. The right one steals your life while the left steals your breath. These hands are bad juju and the bad boogaloo, they're the teeth of the demon as he slides down the flue.”
More quotes…