Here in one volume is James Ellroy’s first great body of work, an epic re-envisioning of postwar Los Angeles–etched in red and black and film-noir grays.
The Black Dahlia depicts the secret infrastructure of L.A.’s most sensational murder case. A young cop morphs into obsessed lover and lust-crazed avenger. The Dahlia claims him. She is the deus ex machina of a boomtown in extremis. The cop’s rogue investigation is a one-way ticket to hell.
The Big Nowhere blends the crime novel and the political novel. It is winter, 1950–and the L.A. County Grand Jury is out to slam movieland Reds. It’s a reverential shuck–and the three cops assigned to the job are out to grab all the glory they can. A series of brutal sex killings intervenes, and the job goes all-the-way bad.
L.A. Confidential is the great novel of Los Angeles in the 1950s. Political corruption. Scandal-rag journalism. Bad racial juju and gangland wars. Six local stiffs slaughtered in an all-night hash house. The glorious and overreaching LAPD on an unprecedented scale.
White Jazz gives us the tortured confession of a corrupt cop going down for the count. He’s a slumlord, a killer, a parasitic exploiter. He’s a pawn in a series of police power plays and starting to see that he’s being had. He’s just met a woman. Thus, he’s determined to claw his way out of the horrifying world he’s created–and he’s determined to tell us everything.