Clandestine Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of Clandestine

Officer Freddy Underhill is 26, working out of the LAPD's Wilshire station, and chasing women in 1951 when he and his partner discover the mutilated and strangled corpse of a young secretary. The trail leads to other murders, new and old, and a beautiful crippled district attorney named Lorna Weinberg. Several familiar themes from Ellroy's other early novels (such as golf) and the majestic LA Quartet (sadistic detective Lt. Dudley Smith, his obsession with the Black Dahlia, and the Victory Motel) turn up in this, his second novel. Dialogue in _Clandestine_ is occasionally wooden and overly formal, and the novel has a tendency to club the reader with the Voice of Doom ("this had been the pivotal day of my life"; "the end of the last season of my youth"), but the plot is grippingly complicated Ellroy.
Click here to see the rest of this review

The review of this Book prepared by David Loftus

CLANDESTINE is the second novel, published in 1982, of James Ellroy.

In 1951, Fred Underhill is a talented young cop of the L.A.P.D. who believes to have found a serial killer. He asks police lieutenant Dudley Smith for help and soon will discover the evil side of Smith, a sadistic cop ready to do anything to arrest vicious killers.

After having left the L.A.P.D., Underhill begins a redemptive trip which will last four years, until the day his past will knock at his door again.


The review of this Book prepared by Daniel Staebler

Chapter Analysis of Clandestine

Click on a plot link to find similar books!

Plot & Themes

Composition of Book descript. of violence and chases 20%Planning/preparing, gather info, debate puzzles/motives 30%Feelings, relationships, character bio/development 30%How society works & physical descript. (people, objects, places) 20% Tone of story    -   Dry-cynical How difficult to spot villain?    -   Difficult, but some clues given Time/era of story:    -   1930's-1950's What % of story relates directly to the mystery, not the subplot?    -   70% Misc. Murder Plotlets    -   "All in the family" murder Kind of investigator    -   police procedural, American Kid or adult book?    -   Adult or Young Adult Book Any non-mystery subplot?    -   feelings towards lover Crime Thriller    -   Yes Murder Mystery (killer unknown)    -   Yes

Main Character

Gender    -   Male Profession/status:    -   police/lawman Age:    -   20's-30's Unusual characteristics:    -   Super sensitive soggy jelly muffin


United States    -   Yes The US:    -   Midwest    -   California City?    -   Yes City:    -   Los Angeles    -   Dirty, dangerous (like New York)    -   dangerous Small town?    -   Yes Small town people:    -   hostile, like Gomer Pyle on steroids Misc setting    -   resort/hotel

Writing Style

Accounts of torture and death?    -   very gorey references to deaths/dead bodies and torture Explicit sex in book?    -   Yes What kind of sex:    -   descript of kissing    -   lesbians!    -   actual description of sex    -   descript. of breasts    -   descript. of other female areas    -   descript. of male nudity    -   homosexuals doing their thing    -   rape (yeech!) Unusual forms of death    -   asphyxiation    -   poisoning    -   perforation--bullets    -   perforation--swords/knives Unusual form of death?    -   Yes Amount of dialog    -   roughly even amounts of descript and dialog

Books with storylines, themes & endings like Clandestine

James Ellroy Books Note: the views expressed here are only those of the reviewer(s).
2 Ways to Search!

Our Chief Librarian