Sunday, June 11, 2006

Sunday Fiction Reading

I read James Ellroy’s White Jazz last Sunday. From the back cover of the paperback:

LOS ANGELES, 1958.
Killings, beatings, bribes, shakedowns—its standard procedure for lieutenant Dave Klein, LAPD. He’s a slumlord, a bagman, and enforcer—a power in his own small corner of hell. Then the Feds announce a full-out investigation into local police corruption, and everything goes haywire.

Klein’s been hung out as bait, “a bad cop to draw the heat,” and the heat’s coming from all sides: from local politicians, from LAPD brass, from racketeers and drug kingpins—all of them hell-bent on keeping their own secrets hidden. For Klein, “forty-two and going on dead,” it’s dues time.

Klein tells his own story—his voice clipped, sharp, often as brutal as the events he’s describing—taking us with him on a journey through a world shaped by monstrous ambition, avarice, and perversion. It’s a world he created, but now he’ll do anything to get out of it alive.

Fierce, riveting, and honed to a razor edge, White Jazz is crime fiction at its most shattering.
The book lives up to its back cover blurb.

This Sunday I am reading Patricia Highsmith’s Ripley Under Ground. The novel continues the story of Tom Ripley begun in The Talented Mr. Ripley. Tom Ripley is a thief and a murderer, yet Highsmith, like Ellroy with his Dave Klein, pulls off the near impossible, making Ripley an engaging, interesting, and sometimes sympathetic character.

These novels fit with the mood I am in.

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