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L.A. Confidential

(L.A. Quartet #3)

4.18  ·  Rating details ·  33,737 ratings  ·  940 reviews
Christmas 1951, Los Angeles: a city where the police are as corrupt as the criminals. Six prisoners are beaten senseless in their cells by cops crazed on alcohol. For the three LAPD detectives involved, it will expose the guilty secrets on which they have built their corrupt and violent careers. The novel takes these cops on a sprawling epic of brutal violence and the murd ...more
Paperback, 496 pages
Published February 17th 1994 by Arrow (first published 1990)
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Stephen Sanders I just finished L.A. Confidential and I read the prior two before it in order. I would recommend reading them in order for the simple reason that The …moreI just finished L.A. Confidential and I read the prior two before it in order. I would recommend reading them in order for the simple reason that The Black Dahlia and The Big Nowhere are really good books. Ellroy's writing is a bit less stylized in those two novels than in L.A. Confidential and they have (somewhat) less byzantine plot lines, which could make them better entry points into Ellroy's crime fiction. Additionally, two major and a host of minor characters continue on from novel to novel. Perhaps more importantly, reading them in order gives you a sense of the epic sweep of crime, corruption and Southern California history that Ellroy is trying to portray. I can't wait to read the final book, White Jazz!(less)

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Dan Schwent
Aug 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016-books, 2016
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
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
Jun 04, 2011 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 urte
Aug 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Hey everyone, it's my 100th review on goodreads!!!!!!

No, wait, this is a dark and brooding noir. Can't be that happy. Think mean thoughts. Take a shot glass of despair, with a nihilistic chaser and a cheap cigarette.

There we go.

Spanning from 1950 to 58, L.A. Confidential stands as easily the most ambitious book in Ellroy’s series thus far.

It’s Christmas time and that does not mean heart-warming cups of good cheer and old Scrooge being visited by three ghosts in Ellroy’s work. “Bud looked out
Jason Koivu
Dec 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
I hadn't meant to start my Christmas-themed reads just yet, but I'd forgotten, L.A. Confidential pretty much begins with a Christmas party scene. It's not much of what you'd call a Christmas book. That scene is really the only connection to the holiday, and yet it has just as much to do with Christmas as other books which slap the word on the cover in an attempt to get fools like me to read it for no other reason than that connection.

No, this book is about Los Angeles' seedy underbelly and the
Paul Christensen
Aug 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: novels-and-sagas
Even when ya know the plot from the movie it’s still riveting!

Cathy DuPont
Oct 06, 2013 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
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
Barely 3 Stars. A huge disappointment.

I've been looking forward to reading this book for two decades, but it certainly wasn't worth the wait or the effort. This is the third in Ellroy's L. A. Quartet.

This is somewhat better than the (appropriately titled) The Big Nowhere (2nd in the LA Quartet), but it's completely eclipsed by Ellroy's very first book, his only Ten-Star book, The Black Dahlia - truly a Masterpiece of crime noir.
(My review)

Warning, this book for Adults only... perversions aboun
aPriL does feral sometimes
'LA Confidential' by James Ellroy is a horrorshow noir about Los Angeles police in the 1950's. The ending goes completely off the rails, but who cares! What a fun ride!

'LA Confidential' is the third novel in a series called the LA Quartet. Start with the first novel if you want to keep up with a few characters who are carried forward from the 1940's: The Black Dahlia

How on Earth do people write a description of the plot? There is no way to do it fully! I can't, gentle reader. Convoluted is not
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
Sep 18, 2008 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
Roman Clodia
Nov 23, 2016 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
Aug 14, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In nature and scope L.A. Confidential is a sprawling epic dealing with age old themes of justice, redemption and ambition coated in layers and layers of plot filled with deception, violence and depravity. All of Ellroy's signature mannerisms are in place - three dimensional characters fighting their own demons, unrelenting cynicism, labyrinthine plotting and enough darkness that if you gift the book with a bottle of booze and Tom Waits' songs to a depressed individual, you might be charged with ...more
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
Steven Godin
Dec 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: america-canada
Picking up where The Black Dahlia and The Big Nowhere left off, the third in the L.A. Quartet tracks the intertwining paths of three flawed and ambitious cops who emerge from a Bloody Christmas affair involving a bunch Mexicans locked up for the night. And if there is one thing Ellroy loves doing in these books, it's showcasing a disdain for the Hollywood tinsel. It is evident at every turn. He paints a dark and brooding Los Angeles where police corruption is rife, there is dope peddling, prosti ...more
Nancy Oakes
full post here with no spoilers:

"It was a once-in-a-lifetime case and the price for clearing it was very, very high."

An understatement to be sure.

I'm one of those weirdos who actually preferred the novel to the film adaptation, and I think it's because it had been so long since I'd seen the movie that it I'd forgotten about it. I recently watched the film again after finishing the novel and was a bit thrown off -- not only had the story been cut, which du
Jill Hutchinson
Have you ever been hit with brass knuckles? Neither have I but I think you might feel the same way that you do when you have finished this modern noir classic. The story jumps off the pages at you, filled with bad characters......bent cops/pimps/smut merchants/killers/mob members/crooked politicians /prostitutes,and dope peddlers. The scene is the 1950s when the LA police force was a cesspool of corruption, violence, and bribery and Ellroy mixes his fictional characters with real people of the t ...more
Bruce Beckham
Sep 06, 2016 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".
A complex police procedural, hard hitting (pun intended) definite noir. Remember seeing the movie when it first came out so had some inkling as to how the story would unfold. The novel offered more detail and description. A grim and violent story, seedy atmosphere and a glimpse into "policing" in the 50's L.A style. Difficult at times to quite know who the "bad guys" were.

Well worth a look at, from the Guardian list.
May 14, 2015 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
Steven Belanger
Feb 08, 2011 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
K Kamath
Sep 06, 2011 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
Jun 24, 2011 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.

Apr 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I'm blown away by the epic scope and intricacy of the plot, the characters, the relationships and details.

The movie, as rich and complex as it is, is considerably slimmed down by comparison, and deviates not insubstantially in content though not style. Rich in dialogue, frequent newspaper cutaways and sections of raw, choppy narration sometimes gave me the sense of reading a screenplay for an extended version of the movie. I have to admit to feeling both baffled and awed through much of this, an
reading is my hustle
couldn't get past the racial epithets and cynicism about the human race. i read enough about such misery in headlines. ...more
Apr 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, crime-noir
My absolute favorite noir crime novel of all time, so rich in period detail, hard-boiled prose, complex and compelling characters, and a wide-ranging storyline that explores so many levels of 1950's L.A.P.D. and the city. I'm a huge fan of the film as well, but the book surpasses it an every level. ...more
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
Jul 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mystery, crime, historical
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
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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

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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