Don Winslow's Favorite Crime Novels

L.A. Confidential by James Ellroy 

I’m not the first to say that The Big Dog picked up where Chandler left off, but. . .The Big Dog picked up where Chandler left off. Ellroy owns L.A. of the 1950’s, and L.A. Confidential is the third in his ‘LA Quartet’ series. I loved The Black Dahlia, The Big Nowhere and White Jazz, but L.A. Confidential is my favorite. The characters – Exley, White and Vincennes – are so real, so finely drawn, such bundles of internal conflict. What Ellroy captures – maybe even more than Chandler – is the corruption – in the city, on the police force, inside people’s souls. And the down-and–dirty politics within the police force and the city of Los Angeles create a complexity that only a master writer can handle. The book is about more than just crime – it’s about prejudice, class, money and power.

I vividly remember reading this book when I was trying to become a crime writer and thinking, “This is how it’s done, this is what I want to be.”

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