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Literature / White Jazz

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1992 novel by James Ellroy

David Douglas Klein is an LAPD detective who moonlights as an assassin for several Los Angeles organized crime syndicates. In the looming shadow of a federal investigation in to the endemic corruption in the LAPD, a routine burglary investigation soon drags Klein into the nightmarish intersection of law enforcement, crime, and Hollywood at the close of the 1950s.

A sequel to L.A. Confidential, as one of its major narrative elements is the power struggle between Ed Exley and Dudley Smith for the soul of the LAPD, with Klein caught in the middle. However, as The Film of the Book for L.A. Confidential has the ending changed so that Dudley dies in the end, this makes a film version of White Jazz highly unlikely (not that some filmmakers haven't tried to take a crack at it).


Tropes used in this book:

  • Beige Prose: Originally 700 pages long, the publisher asked Ellroy to make it shorter. He responded by removing every word that could be considered the slightest bit superfluous.
  • Dirty Cop: Almost every major character, and most of the supporting cast
  • Eye Scream
  • Genre Shift: Ends up in some very strange places for a book that starts out as a hard boiled detective novel.
  • The Stoic: The Ed Exley of L.A. Confidential is shrewd and calculating, but not without emotion and unplanned expressions of passion. In White Jazz, set several years after LA Confidential, Exley, as seen through Klein's eyes, is so cold that he's barely human. It's implied that the events of the earlier novel, and Exley's unrelenting crusade to take down Dudley Smith, have sapped him of his humanity.


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