This review was written in 1997 and appeared on my first website. I have posted it because in ties in with my review of Chicago Lightning – The Collected Nathan Heller Short Stories. The connection is that they both deal with fictional characters taking part in real-life events… Also check out the review of the sequel to American Tabloid, The Cold Six Thousand.
After seeing L.A. Confidential I was so impressed by the strong storyline that I went straight to a bookshop to buy something else by the author. In Confidential I really enjoyed the way that the storyline assumes that you have a brain, but at the same time you never get too lost in details. Tabloid didn’t let me down either – I’ve read a few books on the JFK assassination, so it was good to be able to recognise some of the names as they popped up (quite a few of the names, in fact).
More than that is the way that the book is totally convincing – although it is fiction, things could well have happened like that. Maybe JFK’s womanizing is a bit overdone – I’ll never know.
The book left me feeling half way through as if I should be reaching the end of any normal book, if that makes any sense. It just seemed to pack in twice as much story as a lot of these thrillers that I read. The fact that it is based around real people and real events just serve to make it more poignant and stinging. Yes it’s violent; yes, there’s profanity, but it just serves to define the time in which it was set. It just seems to be more real than the kind of fairytale view we have grown up with.
Apparently it was Time’s novel of the year (1995, I think); in that case, it is well deserved, and if L.A. Confidential gets more people reading Ellroy, then so much the better.