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3.7  ·  Rating details ·  2,933 Ratings  ·  96 Reviews
In this Edgar Award finalist by the New York Times–bestselling author of L.A. Confidential, a murder investigation nearly drives a cop to madness.
Despite the sunshine, high necklines, and demure purity of its silver-screen goddesses, Los Angeles in the 1950s is not a gentle place. Even as a young cop, Freddy Underhill knows this. Patrolling one of L.A.’s roughest distric
ebook, 336 pages
Published August 30th 2011 by Road (first published 1982)
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Steven  Godin
A cracking piece of crime fiction and an early and personal novel from Ellroy after the slaying of his own mother. Here in 50's Los Angles ambitious rookie cop Fred Underhill (who is also too cocky and smug for his own good) tackles a murder case involving a strangled female to try and get a name for himself so he is catapulted up through the ranks, the woman in question was a lonely dame he had recently picked up in bar and spent the night with. Eventually this would lead him to team up with th ...more
Nov 28, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 rated it it was amazing  ·  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"
review of
James Ellroy's Clandestine

Read the full review here:

It's been a while since I read an Ellroy bk. I'd forgotten what a good writer he is. Take this 2nd paragraph of the Prologue as an example:

"Nostalgia victimizes the unknowing by instilling in them a desire for simplicity and innocence they can never achieve. The fifties weren't a more innocent time. The dark salients that govern life today were th
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
Dec 14, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 14, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 07, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, crime, mystery, noir
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"
Nov 26, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
J. Mark
Jun 27, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
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.
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
Jun 04, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jul 16, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The main character was interesting and had some reality for me. The story was also exciting and moved right along. In many ways, it was familiar Ellroy police procedural stuff, and I didn't like it as well as some of his other books. It was a good read and kept me interested, although the plot seemed a bit contrived. I will continue to read Elroy's books, as this one, while not on the level of L.A. Confidential, did succeed in holding my interest through
to the end.
Mar 25, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Riesgo Boudreaux
Empieza muy bien pero en el último tercio se ralentiza el ritmo sobremanera, decayendo (en mi opinión) el interés por los personajes, creándose un revoltijo de nombres y fechas. Un final bastante bueno y trepidante, adecuado para el personaje. En definitiva se lee con bastante adicción pero queda una historia fácilmente olvidable.
Feb 16, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Gary Sedivy
The story has a couple of murders - women who were strangled. There doesn't seem to be any connection between the two, except the policeman has a feeling they are committed by the same guy. He solves the crime, and the guy is arrested. Oops!
His career is destroyed. His life is a mess since he lost the only thing he loves to do.
But wait! There's more. There's always more. There were too many twists and quirks and coincidences to make this a really good book.
Sep 17, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Working through more old Ellroy which obviously isn't as good as what he'd become but still worthwhile. With a big role for the returning character Dudley Smith, this one feels like it could be the actual first installment of the L.A. Quartet, or at very least a prelude. Certainly some rough edges, but if you're a fan it'll be worthwhile.
Jun 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery-crime
Clandestine is a precursor to what was to come with Ellroy's L.A. Quartet. His style isn't quite as honed, but all the tropes are there. Great characters and an interesting twisting plot that makes you keep coming back for more.
John Hefner
Dec 02, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you haven't read any Ellroy before, this novel isn't the place to start. I think it's safe to say that anyone looking to explore this brilliant crime author should start with "The Black Dahlia," the first part of his famous L.A. Quartet which includes "L.A. Confidential."

Ellroy's earlier 80's work has a reputation for being uneven, and that certainly applies to this novel. And yet, I checked it out anyway because I heard that it introduced Dudley Smith, Ellroy's greatest villain, as well as
May 03, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thoroughly enjoyed “L.A. Confidential” and “American Tabloid” that I read many years ago. I caught L.A. Confidential on cable a few weeks ago and that whet my appetite for an Ellroy novel. While I was in the bookshop I stumbled across “Clandestine” and realized that several if the characters from the L.A. novels were also in this one.

I was not disappointed. This story introduces a young cop named Freddy Underhill. He is on the rise in the Wilshire district and in an effort to become one of the
James Ellroy is one of America’s most compelling and disturbing author’s at work today. That he has survived the Social Justice Warriors and Cultural Marxists in the U.S. and the West is nothing short of a miracle. Not only has Ellroy survived, but he has thrived. Clandestine was an early effort, published in 1983, but it is worth reading not only for hardcore fans but anyone interested in gritty crime in an amoral America. This is not the America of Disney or the wished for America of the SJWs ...more
Tim Niland
Jun 10, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010-reads
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
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
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.
Jan 19, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Francesco Piras
Secondo libro di J. Ellroy.
Narra l'ascesa caduta e redenzione di Frederick Underhill giovane poliziotto appassionato di golf e bella vita nella Los Angeles degli anni 50.
Deciso a risolvere un caso di omicidio di una sua ex fiamma, Frederick in seguito ad un complotto ai suoi danni all'interno del LAPD, risulta costretto a fare un passo indietro e a ritirarsi.
Il desiderio di vendetta e un caso di omicidio simile lo porteranno a distanza di anni a scovare il vero assassino di entrambi i casi, spos
Chuck Briggs
Oct 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Philip Booth
Feb 12, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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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
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