cover image Crime Wave: Reportage and Fiction from the Underside of L.A.

Crime Wave: Reportage and Fiction from the Underside of L.A.

James Ellroy. Vintage Books USA, $13.95 (304pp) ISBN 978-0-375-70471-0

Ellroy's obsessions--Tinseltown tabloid sleaze and his mother's murder--have fueled his writing and provided readers with countless indelible images, reams of trademark stuttergun prose and at least two killer books, L.A. Confidential and My Dark Places. This collection of 11 pieces of fiction and reportage, all previously published in GQ magazine, isn't essential Ellroy, but newcomers contemplating a tentative first dip might find it a fine place to start. The powerfully frank ""My Mother's Killer"" evolved into My Dark Places, and ""Body Dumps"" and ""Glamour Jungle"" both explore LAPD investigations into crimes similar to the death of Ellroy's mother in 1958, when he was 10. Two tales feature the investigative reporting of Hush-Hush magazine, always dedicated to digging the dirt and awesomely addicted to alliteration. Real-life accordionist Dick Contino has several capers of his own and gets to ingest illegal drugs, whack a few lowlifes and hang with Sammy Davis Jr. Ellroy also tackles O.J. Simpson's case, his own high school reunion and the making of the film L.A. Confidential. For some reason, his editor at GQ balked at letting the ""Demon Dog of American Literature"" loose on Bill and Monica. We surely missed out on a whole sackful of sleazy stuff there. Author tour. (Mar.)