James Ellroy s LA Confidential is film noir crime fiction akin to Chinatown, Hollywood Babylon, Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, and Jim Thompson It s about three tortured souls in the s LAPD Ed Exley, the clean cut cop who lives shivering in the shadow of his dad, a legendary cop in the same department Jack Vincennes, a cop who advises a Police Squad like TV show and busts movie stars for payoffs from sleazy Hush Hush magazine and Bud White, a detective haunted by the sight of his dad murdering his mom Ellroy himself was traumatized as a boy by his party animal mother s murder See his memoir My Dark Places for the whole sordid story So it is clear that Bud is partly autobiographical But Exley, whose shiny reputation conceals a dark secret, and Vincennes, who goes showbiz with a vengeance, reflect parts of Ellroy, too LA Confidential holds enough plots for two or three books the cops chase stolen gangland heroin through a landscape littered with not always innocent corpses while succumbing to sexy sirens who have been surgically resculpted to resemble movie stars a vile developer based unfairly on Walt Disney schemes to make big bucks off Moochie Mouse and the cops compete with the crooks to see who can becorrupt and violent Ellroy s hardboiled prose is so compressed that some of his rat a tat paragraphs are hard to follow You have to read with attention as intense as hisand that is very intense indeed But he richly rewards the effort He may not be as deep and literary as Chandler, but he belongs on the same top level shelfEllroy writes as if driven by demons His brutal, staccato graffiti tips over into art Sunday Times No emotion is spared the writing is sparse, the plotting controlled Not for the faint of heart, this is a big, powerful crime novel and possibly the first important example of the genre in the s Sunday Telegraph Empty of any unessentials and full of wise cracking wit Mail on Sunday Unputdownable Time Out