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Publisher's Summary

Los Angeles, 1958. Killings, beatings, bribes, shakedowns - it's standard procedure for Lieutenant Dave Klein, LAPD. He's a slumlord, a bagman, an 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, and from racketeers and drug kingpins, all of them hell-bent on keeping their own secrets hidden. For Klein, "42 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.

©2007 James Ellroy (P)2007 Books on Tape

Critic Reviews

"Riffling, rolling, reeling....Ellroy's best." ( The Denver Post)
"One of the great American writers of our time." ( Los Angeles Times Book Review)
" White Jazz makes previous detective fiction read like Dr. Seuss." ( San Francisco Examiner)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings


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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Darwin8u
  • Mesa, AZ, United States
  • 12-06-15

Love me fierce in danger.

"in the end I possess my birthplace and I am possessed by its language."
-- Ross MacDonald."

"Tell me anything
Tell me everything.
Revoke our time apart.
Love me fierce in danger."
-- James Ellroy, White Jazz

4.5 stars. Sure, you could read this as just the final book in Ellory's masterpiece LA Quartet, but Ellory is playing for bigger stakes. He isn't just writing crime. He is writing the human condition. He isn't just giving you straight dope. He is playing you with pairs. He gives you E. Exley v D. Smith. He gives you Noonan vs. Gallaudet. He gives you J.C. Kafesjian v.P. Herrick, Richie V. Tommy, Sad mom vs Crazy mom.

Think of all of these pairs as fugues that swirl around the narrator, dirty Lieutenant David Klein, reflecting, stream of consciousness, talking, screaming, building, dropping. The narration is like jazz playing two themes together into one. The themes finally coalesce and you see that black and white, criminal and the cop, these are all just linked brothers and sister trapped in a long and fatal incestuous battle for survival, for love, for understanding.


In the end everybody dies, but you hope before then someone tells you the truth and tells you they love you. If you are lucky, perhaps, those two will be the same.

14 of 19 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Charles
  • Manassa, CO, USA
  • 05-08-08

What a great book!

I've always loved this book and hearing it read by Scott Brick is a real treat. I don't get all the 1 star reviews. This is a really good book.

I wish Audible would get some more Ellroy books. An unabridged version of "LA Confidential" would be a great start. Followed by "The Big Nowhere".

6 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

More characters than the ear can hear.

What disappointed you about White Jazz?

I was looking forward to this book. Unfortunately, Ellroy, spills forth an enormous cast of characters during the first chapter. After about a half an hour of this, I had to stop. I listen to most of my audio books while driving long distances. To sort out the dozens of characters in this book takes intense concentration. This does not make it a safe drive and listen experience.
If I were reading the paper version of this book, I'd certainly be highlighting names and roles and scribbling notes in the margins, just to be able to follow along.

Would you ever listen to anything by James Ellroy again?

I'm not sure.

What three words best describe Scott Brick???s performance?

Even a terrific talent like this, can't come up with enough distinct voices to help sort out the multitudinous cast of characters.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Did I read the same book...

I am shocked at the 3 negative reviews. I loved this book as I do all of James Ellroy's work.
Ellroy searches into his character's souls and the results are not pretty. He has a great understanding of what he is writing about.
The writing style is different. sort of 1 word sentences, but it is not hard to follow at all.
White Jazz is sort of a snap shot of urban life at a specific time in our history. The reality is real. The reality is disturbing.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Thomas
  • WAUWATOSA, WI, United States
  • 08-04-07

I tried...twice

I overlooked the other negative review because I REALLY like Scott Brick, and I thought I was hip enough to dig the lingo brevitousness. After the first 40 minutes I kept confusing people and events so I started over (even thought of taking notes). I put another two hours into my retry but ulitimately, wasn't enjoying the staccato writing style. A book this different, should give potential listeners a good 20 minute sample. Alas, I'm giving up and looking for something better (read by Scott Brick perhaps because I enjoyed his delivery and hung on about 30 minutes more than I'd planned to). Listener beware!

4 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Ronald
  • Wallingford, CT, USA
  • 10-08-07


I totally understand what the last two reviewers are talking about. If you've never read Ellroy, know that he is an aquired taste. It's almost like he's proud of his hip, unique writing style and wants to impress you, however the prose is clunky and completely gets in the way. It's not that I don't "get" Ellroy, it's more like I don't want to sift through his murky lingo, I want to be entertained by a great story. Even the great Scott Brick, a master, could not keep me there more than an hour. Move on to something else.

6 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Brenda
  • Madison, OH, United States
  • 07-03-07

Consider yourself warned...

I hope Scott Brick got paid at least double for reading this book. Scott does an incredible job of bringing characters to "life". He "reads" the characters very well but this book is terrible. I tried to stick with it and listened to the 1st 7 hours but then decided to cut my losses and just figure I wasted a good book credit. Plot is thin. Hearing the repetitive foul language gets boring. I've listened to around 370 audiobooks since joining and this is by far the worst book I've been subject to. Don't waste your money nor a book credit.

5 of 12 people found this review helpful