RARA-AVIS: L.A. Noir by John Buntin

From: Stephen Burridge (stephen.burridge@gmail.com)
Date: 15 Dec 2009

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    I recently read this newish nonfiction book and enjoyed it quite a bit. It takes the form of a dual biography, narrating the lives of gangster Mickey Cohen and L.A.P.D. Chief William Parker, in parallel, from the 1920s right up through the Watts riots in the 1960s. The author has an academic background in the study of government, and in his Afterword he says he was interested in the institutional history of the L.A.P.D., how it went from the Department of "L.A. Confidential" to that of "Dragnet". He says he thinks the answer to that is found in the career of Parker. The subject is certainly colourful and eventful. I found that for me the book really did help fill in the background to novels I've read by Chandler, Ross Macdonald, Ellroy, and others. Of course I didn't know much about L.A.'s history going in. I'm wondering what others, who know more about it, may think of the book.

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