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Fred Underhill is a young cop on the rise in Los Angeles in the early 1950's a town blinded to its own grime by Hollywood glitter; a society nourished by newspaper lies that wants its heroes all American and sueaky clean A chance to lead on a possible serial killing is all it takes to fuel Underhill's reckless ambition and 'Wonder' meant the same thing to both of us the job the streets the people and the mutable ethos of we who had to deal daily with drunks hopheads gunsels wienie waggers hookers reffer smokers burglars and the unamed lonely detritus of the human race James Ellroy ClandestineAn early Ellroy that planted many of the themes and dark LA seeds that would eventually sprout and mature in his LA uartet novels The Black Dahlia The Big Nowhere LA Confidential White Jazz The book isn't as good as his uartet but if you've finished the four and are looking for Ellroy LA Noir this is a good place to check out It was originally published in the early 82 and still hold up very well

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Clandestine

Awyer has been corrupted and may not survive But even without the authority of a badge Fred Underhill knows that his only hope for redemption lies in following the investigation to its grim conclusion And the Hell to which he has been consigned for his sins is the perfect place to hunt for a killer who hungers but has no so My first Ellroy book and it won't be my last but I wasn't very intrigued by this one SPOILERS BELOWThe main character is something of a cipher and mishmash at first an ambitious good guy but later like a younger Dudley Smith himself without much transitional explanation Too many characters are too similar both in name and traits The nine year old child who nearly looked like a man and acted like a perverted teenage delinuent what was up with that? Why did our hero fall in love with this scary kid? The story lost my interest in the second half when it got into such long winded family history about one of the murder victims And I didn't buy that Lorna allowed herself to be swept up again at the endI'm not a mystery buff so perhaps I don't have the reading chops reuired for the genre but I just became lost plot wise trying to keep track of all the characters and what they were all supposed to have done Justice is served at the climax but its secrecy bugged me and that it didn't redeem our hero with the public or the LAPD Mr. Miller: ¿Cuándo el depredador se volvió la presa? (Spanish Edition) of a badge Fred Underhill knows that his Musika airean (Literatura) only hope for redemption lies in following the investigation to its grim conclusion And the Hell to which he has been consigned for his sins is the perfect place to hunt for a killer who hungers but has no so My first Ellroy book and it won't be my last but I wasn't very intrigued by this The Magicians Wife one SPOILERS BELOWThe main character is something Power And Prosperity of a cipher and mishmash at first an ambitious good guy but later like a younger Dudley Smith himself without much transitional explanation Too many characters are too similar both in name and traits The nine year High Stakes (Vampire Beach, old child who nearly looked like a man and acted like a perverted teenage delinuent what was up with that? Why did Half to Death our hero fall in love with this scary kid? The story lost my interest in the second half when it got into such long winded family history about Geronimo one Must Love Breeches (Must Love, of the murder victims And I didn't buy that Lorna allowed herself to be swept up again at the endI'm not a mystery buff so perhaps I don't have the reading chops reuired for the genre but I just became lost plot wise trying to keep track Το καφενείο των τρελλών of all the characters and what they were all supposed to have done Justice is served at the climax but its secrecy bugged me and that it didn't redeem When Science Fails our hero with the public It Looked Different on the Model: Epic Tales of Impending Shame and Infamy or the LAPD

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It propels him into a dangerous alliance with certain mad and unstable elements of the law enforcement hierarchy When the case implodes with disastrous conseuences it is Fred Underhill who takes the fall His life is in ruins his promising future suddenly a dream of the past And his good and pure love for a crusading woman l I haven't looked into where this sits in Ellroy's oeuvre but it's a bit of a mess Plus side a few of the characters are the most compelling of Ellroy's creations I really didn't know what was really going on until the last chapterDownside I had a very hard time understanding the motives of the very complex main character Fred Underhill Seems that Ellroy was trying to include as many disparate traits in one man as he could get away with and I don't think he really does get away with it Still a good uick and rich read but than any Ellroy to date it made me feel that I had to suspend judgement a number of times to move forward with the story


10 thoughts on “Clandestine

  1. says:

    'Wonder' meant the same thing to both of us the job the streets the people and the mutable ethos of we who had to deal daily with drunks hopheads gunsels wienie waggers hookers reffer smokers burglars and the unamed lonely detritus of the human race James Ellroy ClandestineAn early Ellroy that planted many of the themes and dark LA seeds that would eventually sprout and mature in his LA uartet novels The Black Dahlia The Big Nowhere LA Confidential White Jazz The book isn't as good as his uartet but if you've finished the four and are looking for Ellroy LA Noir this is a good place to check out It was originally published in the early 82 and still hold up very well


  2. says:

    A cracking piece of crime fiction and an early and personal novel from Ellroy after the slaying of his own mother Here in 50's Los Angles ambitious rookie cop Fred Underhill who is also too cocky and smug for his own good tackles a murder case involving a strangled female to try and get a name for himself so he is catapulted up through the ranks the woman in uestion was a lonely dame he had recently picked up in bar and spent the night with Eventually this would lead him to team up with the fearsome and psychotic Lieutenant Dudley Smith his first outing for Ellroy but things don't go to plan and in the end he is forced to stand down A few years later another killing similar to the one before and this lingers in his mind and stays there once a cop always a cop and it's not long before he starts up another investigation on his own which will send him on a journey of obsession into the dark underbelly of Tinseltown and beyond to seek justice and the truth regardless of where this will leave him And it's from the mid point onwards that Ellroy's talent really shines through with a dark complex and enthralling plot he perfectly captures both place and time A love story multi layered characters twists and turns plenty of leads and suspects to send your brain into a frenzy make up a great hard as nails noir thriller This would go on and set up the scene for his now legendary 'LA uartet' of which I would say there are similarities with ' The Black Dahlia' and especially 'The Big Nowhere' my personalfavorite although this was rougher around the edges and easier to read because the cop slang dialogue of his later work was not present so unless you were hanging around with cops in downtown LA back in the 50's this works well and is understandableat least to some degree anyway As for James Ellroy he is master of the crime genre and is set apart from everybody else because of his ability to go that extra mile This would be a great introduction to Ellroy for those who have never read him


  3. says:

    Pretty good early Ellroy Though I had problems with the middle third the pacing just goes totally dead as he goes into a longwinded heavily expository backstory I'd still call this essential to anyone like me who loved the LA uartet as it introduces key characters like Dudley Smith and locales like the Victory Motel that figure so prominently in the uartet In fact the entire first third reads a lot like the LA uartet though a lot less polished Once the story moves away from LA and the LAPD it goes a bit off the railsbut there's still plenty here to like you can see all of Ellroy's obsessions taking root and a few sentences here and there hint of the genius to come


  4. says:

    When I went to a James Ellroy reading I went through my collection to find a good one I wanted him to autograph I picked Clandestine It's that good When he signed it he wroteTo Andy Doom DwellsJames Ellroy


  5. says:

    Even when reading one of James Ellroy's earliest and most conventional novels it's easy to understand both why he divides fans of crime fiction so much and why he's one of the writers in the genre who have earned the most respect from academic literary circles Clandestine is far from perfect but mostly succeeds in going even further than Hammett and Chandler in elevating the detective novel to serious literatureFrom the first page you can notice that Ellroy's sensibility is closer to the common stereotype of literary fiction than 95% of authors in his genre There's a clear inspiration from the concise hard boiled prose of the aforementioned classics but his style is so much abstract and fragmented it sometimes gives off a Thomas Pynchon lite feel It wouldn't surprise me if Ellroy in turn inspired Pynchon's own retro detective novel Inherent ViceThe storyline is likewise just as concerned with exploring the protagonist's psyche as with solving its central murder mystery A process that in the story takes several years and ties up several plot tangents that at first appeared to be red herrings in the unravelling of its central conspiracy At the same time the depiction of LA's sleaziest parts gets way explicit than the 1930s pulp writers could ever get away with to the point the end results sometimes feel like Bukowski than Chandler maybe for a reason many elements in the story are taken directly from the still unsolved murder of the author's own mother during his childhoodAs to be expected from an early novel by a very ambitious author Clandestine doesn't uite reach its high aspirations The plot structure feels clumsy early on when building up its basic premises and also later when the shocking revelations start piling up it comes close to straining the reader's suspension of disbelief Neither can Ellroy's prose uite make up for the narrative issues since it's not as effortless looking in its brilliance as Chandler let alone as advanced as Pynchon However for the most part it works because how Ellroy uses the same underlying themes recurring in all the disparate tangents to pull them together into a unified narrativeI'm definitely curious about the LA uartet now since Clandestine is often seen as a test run for those novels


  6. says:

    I haven't looked into where this sits in Ellroy's oeuvre but it's a bit of a mess Plus side a few of the characters are the most compelling of Ellroy's creations I really didn't know what was really going on until the last chapterDownside I had a very hard time understanding the motives of the very complex main character Fred Underhill Seems that Ellroy was trying to include as many disparate traits in one man as he could get away with and I don't think he really does get away with it Still a good uick and rich read but than any Ellroy to date it made me feel that I had to suspend judgement a number of times to move forward with the story


  7. says:

    review of James Ellroy's Clandestine by tENTATIVELY a cONVENIENCE JUNE 6 2017 Read the full review here It's been a while since I read an Ellroy bk I'd forgotten what a good writer he is Take this 2nd paragraph of the Prologue as an example Nostalgia victimizes the unknowing by instilling in them a desire for simplicity and innocence they can never achieve The fifties weren't a innocent time The dark salients that govern life today were there then only they were harder to find That was why I was a cop and why I chased women Golf was no than an island of purity something I did exceedingly well I could drive a golf ball three hundred yards Golf was breathtaking cleanliness and simplicity p 1 Some people chase ambulances some people chase women women move slower I breathed it all in and gave what I hoped would pass for an ironic grin So you don't like cops I said Big deal Most people don't Would you rather have anarchy? There's only one answer Miss Weinberg This is not the best of all possible worlds We have to accept that and get on with the administration of justice p 30 Of course these days there're plenty of people who yes wd rather have anarchy those who wdn't for the most part are only reacting to the term like a Pavlovian dog preconditioned to experience fear wo having than a very vague idea of what it is they're afraid of Lorna did not relent I can't accept that and I won't You can't change human nature but you can change the law And you can weed out some of the sociopaths who carry badges and guns For example my father told me you were curious about that man who caddied for you today I know about him He's one of your victims An attorney who's a member of this club once represented Dirt Road Dave in his suit against the Lose Angeles Police Department During the Depression he had stolen some food from a grocery Two policemen saw him do it and chased him and when they finally caught him they were angry They beat him unconscious with their billy clubs Dave suffered internal hemorrhaging and almost died He sustained irreparable brain damage The ACLU sued your police department and lost Cops are above the law and can do what they please p 30 Now I'm an anarchist unlike most anarchists I know I don't hate cops I think most of them are working class people who are in over their heads Still let's be realistic the above story fits in w my idea of realism I'll give a few relevant stories that explain why I had a friend whose brother was in the LA Police One day my friend was at his parents' house when his brother came by w another policemen They were joking about going out to shoot cans Afri cans Mexi cans Nyuk nyuk Black Panthers talked about the police as being like an occupying army in their neighborhoods I think that's spot on I had another friend who was a junkie poet He was a nice guy he probably resorted to some theft to support his habit The police took a dislike to him 2 cops cornered him in an alley one of them systematically beat him w his billy club in the same spot on his stomach over over again to cause internal organ damage thereby shorten his life He sued the police w the usual outcome of NADA police responsibility I haven't seen the friend for decades He's probably dead He was a sensitive person who just cdn't make it in this society in the approved of ways If being a poet in this society got respect he probably wdn't've had to resort to theft but being a poet or most other types of creative person is undervalued to an extreme in this society Yet another friend of mine of Mexican descent was at a protest in California at a motel where illegal immigrants were being held for deportation My friend was arrested taken to jail where he was hog tied ie w his hands tied behind his back to his feet beaten repeatedly on the soles of his feet so that he cdn't walk properly That was torture His mom reported this to Amnesty International who informed her that there is no torture in the US They've since changed their tune I've sat in a courtrm before witnessed a man sentenced to jail for stealing a piece of meat from a supermarket The man was very skinny My point is that if you're poor in this country there's a different set of laws treatments for you than if you're rich The police know that rich people have too many retaliatory resources AND that their actual purpose is to protect serve THE RICH They're a bodyguard pd for w public money heaven forbid that the rich shd have to pay for anything For maybe the 1st 15 yrs that I had sex from 1970 to 1985 sporadically up 'til 1996 the use of diaphragms was a common form of impregnation prevention This was preferable to birth control pills bc it didn't disrupt the biological cycle of the woman Once fear of AIDS changed the whole dynamic of sex the use of condoms started to dominate diaphragms seemed to fall into disuse I never really had a handle on when diaphragms were invented so it was interesting to find them in the 1951 of this novel I pushed open the door Maggie was starting to insert her diaphragm when she saw me She jumped startled and angry into the bathtub where she covered herself with the shower curtain Bill; she said flushed Please goddamnit I'll just be a minute Wait in the bedroom honey Please I'll be right there I just wanted to watch you sweetheart I said I wanted to help you with it Maggie said nervously It's a private thing Bill A woman's thing If you don't see me do it then you don't really know it's there It's better for you Believe me honey p 38 Ah humans our complications This was a one nite stand Can you imagine a cat in heat going thru this? Cat steps into litter box turns her back Meooooowweerr Jack groaned and the old woman giggled as Wacky did his Frankenstein imitation walking toward her slowly arms extended groaning deeply p 46 232 Player Belt Girdle Monster Neoista? Puccs Black Black Galéria environs BudaPest Hungary Monday July 7th 1997 6PM Black Black Galéria is the gallery of Opál Színház Opal Theater It's in a complex of basements which was entered by stooping through a sidewalk level window walking down a sloping board laying on a sand pile Large piles of sand were faintly visible off to the left when entering At the bottom of the piles were 2 rooms Off to the right off of the 1st room was the closed off entrance to living uarters Off to the left of the 2nd room 1 could walk through another awkward entrance down into another room where Amen had an exhibit At the end of this room was a cage that blocked entrance to a room beyond This cage is reputed to've been lived in for 1 month by 1 of the main people of Opál Színház I stayed mainly in the dim light on the sand piles off to the left when 1 entered playing tapes with my Player Belt see entries 212 217 etc Eventually etta cetera Brian Damage Ghera I ventured forth into the gypsy neighborhood with the Player Belt playing my tapes all the while Back in front of Black Black the neighborhood people had gathered out of curiousity My tape started playing loud steady explosive sounds I began to walk stiffly with my feet hitting the pavement in sync with the sounds holding my arms out like the stereotypical zombiemonster etta probably took something from me like my flaming steam iron necklace I started pursuing her through the thick of the crowd Children started laughing pretending to be terrified running frantically to get out of my way How did that get in there? I'm listening to Lambert Hendricks Ross's Sing a Song of Basie recorded 1957 a little late to be of the same period as the novel as I wrote this Thought you might like to know 'Bill' insults his superior officer pays the price a transfer to an unglamorous dangerous district Wacky Walker never made it to Seventy seventh Street Division Watts LA's heart of darkness but I did Beckworth bided his time and in June when Captain Larson retired to muted fanfare after thirty three years on the job I got my orders Officer Frederick U Underhill 1647 to Seventy seventh Street Division to fill manpower shortage Which was a joke the ranks at Seventy seventh Street were swelled to bursting The ancient red brick building that served the hottest per capita crime area in the city was painfully overstaffed with cops and undersupplied with every crime fighting provision from toilet paper to fingerprinting ink There was a shortage of chairs tables floor space lockers soap brooms mops and even writing implements There was no shortage however of prisoners There was an unsurpassed daily and nightly parade of burglars purse snatchers dope addicts drunks wife beaters brawlers pimps hookers perverts and cranks p 65 I'm sure that Ellroy is well read researched on the eras he represents but this still seems daunting to me as a writerly task to try to accurately represent a place time he doesn't have personal familiarity w It's 1951 Ellroy has Underhill blackmailing a bartender for information bc he's caught him w pot Shut up Listen to me I'm interested in pickup artists—pussy hounds guys who score regular here You help me out and I'll let you slide You don't and I'll bust you I'll call for a patrol car and tell the bulls you tried to sell me these three reefers That's two to ten at uentin What's it gonna be? p 83 Two to 10 at San uentin prison for selling 3 joints Those were the days The days of ridiculous penalties for victimless crimes The days when being gay meant hiding it to save yr life Henry Cowell major American composer music theorist publisher etc was imprisoned in San uentin in 1936 w a 15 yr sentence for a morals charge He wd've gotten out at the time this novel began if he'd served the full sentence wch he didn't he got out after 4 yrs I'd originally read that Cowell was busted in a sting operation for cruising in a park Perhaps that story was circulated to generate sympathy for him for others like him Wikipedia claims that having oral sex w a 17 yr old boy I don't know wch story is true Having been a 17 yr old boy in 1971 who hitch hiked got such offers fairly often I can truthfully say that saying no was all it took to prevent it from happening so I assume that the 17 yr old consented At any rate those were the days The days when a major composer cd get sentenced to 15 yrs in prison bc of his sexual activities We're not talking Oscar Wilde in 1895 sentenced to 2 yrs hard labor for indecency we're talking the 20th century Don't thank me yet Officer You are a very gifted young man but your arrogance supersedes your gifts Arrogance cannot be tolerated in police officers; to tolerate it would be to promote anarchy The Los Angeles Police Department is a superbly structured bureaucracy one you have sworn allegiance to Your actions have reviled the department Know that Underhill Know that your ambition is threatening to kill you as a policeman Do you understand me? p 96 There they go picking on anarchy again What's so bad about thinking for yrself sabotaging unjust institutions? Sheesh My 1st encounter of a close kind w Ellroy's work was upon witnessing the movie LA Confidential I loved it thought it represented as great Film Noir made long after the 'classic' era for Noir The Ellroy bk that the movie was based on was copyrighted in 1990 8 yrs after Clandestine Clandestine seems to hold the seeds of at least 3 later bks LA Confidential the Black Dahlia 1987 My Dark Places 1996 The only bk that I've read by Ellroy earlier than Clandestine is Brown's Reuiem 1981 Clandestine presages LA Confidential bc it's got the brutal Lieutenant Dudley Smith in it taking a suspect to an abandoned motel 'interrogating' him by beating the shit out of him until he gets a confession Dudley Smith was a lieutenant in the homicide bureau a fearsome personage and legendary cop who had killed five men in the line of duty Irish born and Los Angeles raised he still clung tenaciously to his high pitched musical brogue which was as finely tuned as a Stradivarius He often lectured at the academy on interrogation techniues and I remembered how that brogue could be alternately soothing or brutal inuisitive or dumbfounded sympathetic or filled with pious rage p 97 Smith explains to Underhill something he did to try to discover who the Black Dahlia's killer was Dick Carlisle and I snuck the stiff over to the warehouse late one night I dyed her hair jet black like the Dahlia's I stripped her nude and tied her ankles with a rope and Dick and I hoisted her up feet first and hung her from a low ceiling beam Then Dick went and got our eight degenerates from the Hall of Justice jail We let them view her one at a time lad with appropriate props One scum was a knife man; he had scores of arrests for knife fighting I handed him a butcher knife and made him slice the corpse he could hardly do it He didn't have it in him Another filth was a child molester recently paroled from Atascadero His MO was asking little girls if he could kiss their private parts I made him kiss the dead girl's private parts smell that dead sex flesh up close He couldn't do it And on and on I was looking for a reaction so vile so unspeakable that I would know that this was the scum that killed Beth Short p 125It didn't work I doubt that the above story is rooted in historical fact it seems likely to be rooted in Ellroy's lurid imagination Maybe I'm wrong Here's another story that seems likely to be realistic At five minutes of six we will kick in Eddie's door We will subdue him and put the fear of God into any colleen or homo who might be sharing his bed then send them on their way I have an interrogation place set up an abandoned motel in Gardena Freddy Dick Engels and I will travel in my car Mike will follow in his This is apt to be a long interrogation lads p 134 Think of the murders of Black Panthers Fred Hampton Mark Clark while they slept a drug induced sleep as a result of downers put in their food by an undercover agent by the police in Chicago in 1969 you'll get a good idea of the way the police sometimes work In the meantime Underhill is dating cop critical legal eagle Lorna whose artistic taste we get a glimpse of There was a Hieronymus Bosch painting that represented insanity—hysterical grotesue creatures in an undersea environment importuning God—or someone—for release from their madness There was a Van Gogh job that featured flowery fields juxtaposed against brown grass and a somber sky There was Edward Hopper's Nighthawks—three lonely people sitting in an all night diner not talking It was awesome and filled with with lonely wonder p135 I share her tastes At the same time that she's dating Underhill however he's being schooled by Smith Dudley's techniues are do NOT appeal to Lorna's tastes Eddie I said do your parents know you're homosexual? No Do they know that Lillian is a lesbian? No Please You don't want them to find out do you? No He screeched the word his voice breaking He wrapped his arms around himself and rocked back and forth p 165 Yep those were the days At least people can be a little openly gay these days so such blackmail is less likely to be effective Of course let's not get too happy here right? There're still cases like Pittsburgh policemen David Sisak Michael Saldutte Richard Ewing beating the shit out of black teenagerfor no good reason Jordan Miles in the all too recent 2010 The cops got financially penalized but did no time The attorney who represented Ewing was uoted by the Pittsburgh Post Gazette as saying they'd do it all over again They did nothing wrong They have nothing to be ashamed of Any civilian who beat a cop like they beat this kid wd probably be given life wo parole or executed There's no way they'd get off like these cops did These are the days Still Lorna Fred get married demonstrating once again that opposites attract So the dead hovered over my wife and me solidifying their presence as Lorna and I lived on For years we loved and it was worth the price in sorrow that my blind ambition had exacted from me and so many others For a long while I wanted nothing that I didn't have and I was moved beyond movement by Lorna's willingness to give it to me p 201 I love a little romance esp in my own life Thank you you know who The dead are definitely hovering over this novel Given that I'd read Ellroy's My Dark Places about the murder of his mom when he was a kid it was easy to see parallels to his actual life story the fiction in Clandestine NURSE FOUND MURDERED IN EL MONTE Strangulation Death for Attractive Divorced Mother one of the Scouts Danny Johnson age 12 thought he saw an arm poking out of a line of scrub that runs along the fence on the school's south side p 209 Ellroy's own mom was a divorcee living in El Monte Some kids found her p 3 My Dark Places Marcella was such a good woman A good mother devoted to her son Mrs Hariis 43 was divorced from her husband William Doc Harris several years ago They have a nine year old son who was spending the weekend with his father When notified of the death Harris who has been eliminated as a suspect said I have every hope the police will uickly catch my wife's killer Nine year old Michael distraught is now living with his father in Los Angeles p 210 Clandestine Hallinen and Lawton uizzed Ellroy on his ex wife's social life He told them Jean was a secretive woman who kept things to herself She lied when it suited her—and she was really 43 not the 37 she claimed She was promiscuous and an alcoholic Her son found her in bed with strange men on several occasions Her recent move to El Monte could only be explained as a run from or run to some lowlife she was seeing p 13 My Dark Places The victim's son was pudgy and tall for 10 years old He was nervous—but did not appear in any way distraught p 12 My Dark Places Ellroy was put into his father's care The parallels go on on Ellroy's mom's murder was never solved Well he said she said the kid was gettin' into fights and talkin' dirty and exposing himself to all the other little kids p 215 Clandestine I was becoming uite a large kid I was foulmouthed and spouted profane lingo on the schoolyard My father's favorite expression was Fuck you Fritz His favorite expletive was cocksucker I mimicked his language and reveled in it shock value I was refining my Crazy Man Act It kept me miserably lonely and sealed up in my own little head p 99 My Dark Places


  8. says:

    My first Ellroy book and it won't be my last but I wasn't very intrigued by this one SPOILERS BELOWThe main character is something of a cipher and mishmash at first an ambitious good guy but later like a younger Dudley Smith himself without much transitional explanation Too many characters are too similar both in name and traits The nine year old child who nearly looked like a man and acted like a perverted teenage delinuent what was up with that? Why did our hero fall in love with this scary kid? The story lost my interest in the second half when it got into such long winded family history about one of the murder victims And I didn't buy that Lorna allowed herself to be swept up again at the endI'm not a mystery buff so perhaps I don't have the reading chops reuired for the genre but I just became lost plot wise trying to keep track of all the characters and what they were all supposed to have done Justice is served at the climax but its secrecy bugged me and that it didn't redeem our hero with the public or the LAPD


  9. says:

    I love LA Confidential the film so much that I wanted to read a book that evoked the same milieu the same literary terroir while avoiding a retread of the same plot that would inevitably come with reading LA Confidential the novel itself What better way to accomplish that goal than by going to James Ellroy's other work? Clandestine isn't one of Ellroy's most widely known efforts but possibly because it was one of his earliest there's a rough edged rawness to the writing that I found absorbing than some other obviously polished hard boiled novels Reading this was a bit like reading Hammett with a twist of Chandler sharp prose engrossing plot and complex and deeply flawed characters At times it seems that Ellroy is engaging in a public therapy session to work out his well publicized personal issues in his writing and I say fine by me; it results in some superb noir Highly recommended


  10. says:

    An uneven but still compelling early entry from Ellroy's bibliography As with his debut novel this flashes his unmatched ability to create characters that captivate and disturb even when you somehow find yourself liking them The only issue with these early novels is it feels like he lets plot get in the way of his amazing characterizations Which happens near the end of this novel unfortunately But despite a rough 30 page section near the end he still brings it all home in a completely satisfying manner


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