Read for CBR10Bingo: Book was better. The movie is one of my all-time favorites. This is my first time reading the novel.
I’ve read five James Ellroy books in the last few months so if you want my thoughts on my personal evolution towards his works, check past reviews. Having read the tail end of his work and the beginning of what made him popular, I can say with confidence this is the best book he’s written. It’s the perfect merger of his style and capability.
I knew the book would be substantially different than the movie, as the latter takes place over three weeks while the book is over five years. But I did not think I would appreciate how well Ellroy would handle the time jumps, making every character hang on the periphery of the others and then bringing them together at just the right moments to advance the dense plot.
There’s a lot going on in this one and a lot of names to remember but what makes it work better than his other works is the portrayal of how a city effects ambition. He does this a little in his Tabloid trilogy with how America effects ambition (with decidedly mixed results). Here, Ellroy takes the many and varied cliches of LA-as-city-of-broken-dreams, rings the familiarity out of them, and infuses it with a twisty noir tale as only he can present.
Unlike other books where Ellroy will sometimes lose track of the pacing or get lost in the plot, he seems to reign himself in rather than give into his base impulses that make him a talented but frustrating writer. LA Confidential hums from beginning to end with a manic energy. This is perhaps the greatest Los Angeles tale.