White Jazz Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of White Jazz

WHITE JAZZ is a book written by James Ellroy in 1992. The novel concludes the L.A. QUARTET.
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Dave Klein remembers. He was a lieutenant in the Los Angeles Police Department during the fifties. He was the witness of the efforts of Welles Noonan, a politician who wanted to clean up the Southern part of Los Angeles, territory of Mickey Cohen, the jazz joints, the black people and the Kafesjian, an armenian family dealing with drugs but protected by the police. He was also an active and manipulated character of the rivalry between Dudley Smith, the most corrupted cop of L.A. and Ed Exley, the chief of the inspectors of the Los Angeles Police Department.

When there is a burglary in the Kafesjian house, Dave Klein is assigned to the job by Ed Exley. He enters the intimacy of this family and soon understands that this is not a common burglary. Who was the man watching every night Lucille Kafesjian wandering naked in her room with her windows open ? His quest will drive him in the jazz clubs of South L.A. where he'll discover the heroes of the be-bop, the heroes of the white jazz. After some investigations, he identifies the Peeping Tom as Richie Herrick, a young musician who's just escaped from prison. Klein finds out that Herrick's parents were well-known to the Kafesjian from the thirties on. But the mother has just committed suicide and Herrick's father and two sisters are savagely murdered before Klein can talk to them. Is the murderer the same person who committed the Kafesjian burglary? Another mystery to solve for Klein who must also deal with Sam Giancanna, the new boss of the Organization. Giancanna possesses proofs that Klein committed a murder some years before and, for his silence, asks Dave to arrange the suicide of a key FBI witness Dave has to protect before he testifies for Welles Noonan in his crusade against the corruption in the boxing business.

Meanwhile, Dudley Smith tries to find out who's responsible for the stealing of valuable furs and Dave's partner, George Stemmons, completely drug addicted and mad, disappears into the streets of South L.A., racketting the black drug dealers and, hence, provoking the Kafesjian family.

A new terrific saga in the L.A. of the fifties. Great Ellroy.   

The review of this Book prepared by Daniel Staebler

Chapter Analysis of White Jazz

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Plot & Themes

How difficult to spot villain?    -   Difficult, but some clues given Time/era of story:    -   1930's-1950's Spying/Terrorism Thriller    -   Yes What % of story relates directly to the mystery, not the subplot?    -   50% Special suspect?    -   relative 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 Who's the terrorist enemy here?    -   evil subgroup in own govt Murder Mystery (killer unknown)    -   Yes General Crime (including known murderer)    -   Yes Who's the criminal enemy here?    -   drug dealers    -   stolen goods organization

Main Character

Gender    -   Male Profession/status:    -   police/lawman Age:    -   40's-50's


United States    -   Yes The US:    -   California City?    -   Yes City:    -   Los Angeles    -   dangerous    -   rude people 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:    -   licking    -   actual description of sex    -   descript. of male nudity    -   homosexuals doing their thing Unusual forms of death    -   decapitated    -   perforation--bullets    -   perforation--swords/knives Unusual form of death?    -   Yes Amount of dialog    -   significantly more descript than dialog

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