L.A. Confidential Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of L.A. Confidential

In the third part of his masterful LA quartet, Ellroy opens up the canvas even wider. The time window of the story is Christmas 1951 to April 1958 in Los Angeles, although there's a 1950 prologue and much prehistory. The book has three LAPD protagonists: quick-fisted enforcer Bud White, who especially hates wife beaters; Narcotics sergeant Jack Vincennes, recovering from substance abuse himself and given to feeding breaking stories to the local tabloid press as well as the hit TV show "Badge of Honor" to make himself look good; and up-and-comer college kid and decorated vet Ed Exley, anxious to get out from under the shadow of his father Preston, who was an LA detective and is now in construction. All three have dark secrets (as do nearly everyone else in this ultra-noir). A bloody shootout in which six people are massacred at an all-night cafe and three young blacks are arrested drives much of the immediate plot, but a series of unsolved and hardly noticed prostitute slayings haunts White, and Vincennes -- busted to Administrative Vice -- dispiritedly investigates a porn ring. Everything and everyone ties to everything and everyone else, and though White and Exley detest each other, the cases will inevitably bring them together. Ellroy includes fewer appearances by real people (such as crime boss Mickey Cohen and small timer Johnny Stompanato -- now known for being Lana Turner's lover and being murdered by her daughter), although a Walt Disney stand-in (and his mid 1950s amusement park) figure into the plot. Ellroy's style becomes more rapid fire and fragmentary, but still outstanding and impossible to put down. Dialogue crackles: My favorite scenes are when Exley questions the black suspects, and the first encounter of White and Lynn Margaret Bracken, the high-priced call girl who looks like Veronica Lake.
Click here to see the rest of this review

The review of this Book prepared by David Loftus

Chapter Analysis of L.A. Confidential

Click on a plot link to find similar books!

Plot & Themes

Composition of Book descript. of violence and chases 30%Planning/preparing, gather info, debate puzzles/motives 40%How society works & physical descript. (people, objects, places) 30% Tone of story    -   Dry-cynical Time/era of story:    -   1930's-1950's Spying/Terrorism Thriller    -   Yes Kid or adult book?    -   Adult or Young Adult Book Crime Thriller    -   Yes Who's the terrorist enemy here?    -   law enforcement gone bad General Crime (including known murderer)    -   Yes Who's the criminal enemy here?    -   drug dealers

Main Character

Gender    -   Male Profession/status:    -   police/lawman Age:    -   20's-30's


United States    -   Yes The US:    -   Pacific NW    -   California City?    -   Yes City:    -   Los Angeles    -   Dirty, dangerous (like New York)    -   dangerous    -   wealthy Misc setting    -   prison    -   fancy mansion

Writing Style

Accounts of torture and death?    -   moderately detailed references to deaths Explicit sex in book?    -   Yes What kind of sex:    -   vague references    -   descript of kissing    -   actual description of sex Unusual forms of death    -   perforation--bullets    -   perforation--swords/knives    -   blunt clubbing (like seals) Unusual form of death?    -   Yes Amount of dialog    -   significantly more dialog than descript

Books with storylines, themes & endings like L.A. Confidential

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

Our Chief Librarian