She sabotages her own operation, and Whiskey Bill falls into the vacuum left behind. These lunatic threads, and these four unhinged characters, come together to dramatize the emotional chaos that floods a country at war. It remains a fever now.
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I will not die as long as I live this story. Kay is a convincing spy, an irresistible chameleon. This is her gift and tragic flaw. She ingratiates herself with the Reds, and before long is spearheading the making of an antiracist propaganda film, a believer not a double agent. While everyone else is shifting allegiances and slopping in a morally relativistic puddle, she sticks to her guns and in her own way cleaves most articulately to the point of Perfidia.
We were at odds with one another and afire with crazed duty. We were as one and bound by a terrible allegiance in the time of Pearl Harbor. A magnetic brute with a flamboyant way of talking—all Irish bard, his killer wink, the way he always seems two steps ahead of everyone. Dudley is a gangster. He manipulates people. He meets his match in Bette Davis. He pursues and seduces her, only to find in her someone who has more control or more need of control than he does.
It was fear of nothingness and rage at the prospect fulfilled. Dudley Smith terrified her. He was the brutal blank page of her unconscious and had hurled her beyond her ken. Bette thwarts his ethical code, clouds his sense of agency. Everyone loves Dudley, and fears him. When he pulls the trigger, he transcends the limits of his own psychopathology.
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Nonetheless, Perfidia is a revelation. Eight books into the LA underworld, the material should be tired, beaten to death, pickled. Every scratch moves closer, shifts the stakes a little. In late , Klein, the commander of Administrative Vice, is assigned a burglary of the sanctioned drug-dealing family, the Kafesjians. Klein takes a sideline job from Howard Hughes, who wants Klein to find evidence that would violate an actress's contract.
Klein falls in love with his target, Glenda Bledsoe. While working the Kafesjian burglary, Klein discovers that Exley is still trying to bring down Dudley Smith. When he figures that out, Klein begins working with Exley, who tells him all about Dudley. When Klein meets an undercover officer, Johnny Duhamel, who is working Smith on behalf of Exley, Klein is shot up with drugs. Being coerced, Klein murders Duhamel with his Marine sword and is taped committing the murder. Klein is arrested by the FBI the following day for possession of heroin. He becomes a federal witness, and is given 48 hours before he is taken into custody.
The L.A. Quartet
Klein and Exley discover other Dudley Smith sidelines, selling heroin to the South Los Angeles African-American population, keeping crime in that area "contained", gambling , and voyeuristic pornography tapes. Klein and Exley find the Kafesjians' burglar, Wylie Bullock. Later that night, everything hits Klein: all his crimes and everything that is happening.
He decides to meet Smith later that night, who offered Klein a deal earlier. When the two meet, Bullock attacks Smith, ripping out his eye and slashing his face ear to ear. Klein shoots Bullock and runs off. An all-points bulletin is issued on Klein and he is caught. While in federal custody, Klein writes a full confession of everything he has done, and everything that has happened. However, Klein escapes custody. After his escape, Klein's confessions fall on deaf ears, with only Hush-Hush magazine willing to print it. However, they are silenced by legal action and prevented from printing the confession that would have "brought the LAPD to its knees.
He has Bondurant beat him up bad enough to require medical attention. Exley sends Klein a package in the hospital, which includes a blank passport and a gun.
Exley says in his note that he considers Smith neutralized, but will allow Klein to kill Smith if he feels justice has not been absolute. Instead, Klein murders J. Kafesjian and Tommy Kafesjian. Klein spends one last night with Glenda Bledsoe, takes pictures of her to remember her by, and leaves for the airport. Around late January , Klein leaves the United States.
In the epilogue, set many years later at the earliest , Klein says he plans to return to Los Angeles, with the intentions of making gubernatorial candidate Exley confess to the manipulative deals he made, murder Dick Carlisle and Dudley Smith, and find his lover Glenda Bledsoe. Confidential , White Jazz , Perfidia.
In The Big Nowhere , Dudley Smith is described as tall, beefside broad, and red-faced, with brown hair and brown eyes, as well as having a tenor brogue and being Jesuit college -trained. His verbal style also indicates he is a lexophile. Smith was the clandestine protector of two rival criminal families, the Herricks and the Kafesjians, in the s. He is first mentioned in Clandestine , which is set in , and again in in The Big Nowhere , where he is recruited by Deputy D. Ellis Loew to investigate communist influence in Hollywood.
He and his partner Mal Considine pursue this assignment with vigor. By Dudley had reached the rank of Lieutenant, and he would remain there throughout the s, until his promotion to Captain in This attack left him with brain damage that rendered him essentially semi-lucid, and only rarely lucid. Also in the attack, he lost an eye, and is paralyzed, and will probably never be able to walk again.
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It is unknown when Dudley died; however, he is apparently still alive—albeit confined to a nursing home—in , as is revealed in the epilogue to White Jazz. He returns in Perfidia , set in Smith was thoroughly unscrupulous, ruthless, and evil. He had a large list of crimes that he had committed, including theft, pornography distribution, murder, and most disturbingly, infanticide—Dudley personally strangled the two-day-old baby of the Herrick family in He was a hard line anti-communist , declaring that he hated the "Red filth worse than Satan".
Dudley's racism was also well known, particularly in regards to Jews, and he was a notable proponent of " containment "; as he explained it, keeping the "nigger filth" in African-American areas. Smith is portrayed by James Cromwell in the film adaptation of L. Confidential and portrayed in the television pilot of L. Confidential by Tom Nowicki. In a departure from the novel, Smith is killed by Exley at the end of a shootout. Ed Exley is one of the three protagonists in L. Confidential , and a major supporting character in White Jazz. He is the son of Preston Exley, former cop turned construction tycoon.
The brother of Thomas Exley, also a cop who was gunned down by an unknown purse snatcher referred to as "Rollo Tomasi" in the film, and kills Preston Exley, instead of Thomas Exley, in the film. Ed is relentlessly ambitious, politically savvy, and highly intelligent, trying to surpass his father as a policeman and live out late Thomas's dreams.
He is instilled with a belief in "absolute justice" from his father. He has come from a family of cops. Stated in the novel Exley men have been police since the formation of the Scotland Yard. He served in the Pacific Theater and toward the end of his tour of duty experienced the variable ways of manipulating the truth to one's benefit.
Anticipating an attack, Exley volunteers for a scout run. As predicted, the Japanese forces assault with a bayonet charge. When Exley returns, his platoon is dead and a patrol is approaching. He hides under the bodies of his former brothers-in-arms. After the patrol passes he decides to head to battalion headquarters. On the way, he passes a Shinto shrine of soldiers who committed suicide over capture or death by disease.
He finds weaponry and a flamethrower nearby. He lays the guns out around the dead. With the flamethrower, he torches the bodies, knowing his cowardice would be evident and would be rotated to another platoon if he didn't commit this act. Recon finds Exley having "fought off" twenty-nine enemies. He is awarded the Distinguished Service Cross and his story is published in the Examiner. Exley's next brush with opportunity, chance and truth occurs on Christmas Eve during the Bloody Christmas Scandal of A rise in rank and glory come with his testimony against his brother officers, but not without the stigma of becoming a turncoat and pariah.
A hate relationship develops with Bud White, due to his testifying and because White's partner, Dick Stensland, is incarcerated and, later, goes to the gas chamber. Exley was the arresting officer in the crimes which led to Stensland receiving the death penalty, and was in attendance as was White when Stensland was executed.
The Nite Owl slayings, however, bring him acceptance. Several patrons of an all-night coffee shop are brutally shotgunned to death. Although in custody, the suspects escape. Exley finds them and guns them down although they were unarmed. As the years pass, Exley is given captaincy over Internal Affairs. He also makes other numerous cases with a conviction rate in the upper ninety percent. When the Nite Owl case is reopened due to the circumstantial evidence of two witnesses, Exley and the rest of the LAPD must solve the case all over again before the Attorney General's Office takes over the investigation and makes the LAPD look incompetent.
As the evidence emerges and connections are established between the suspects in a web of complex conspiracies stretching back decades , it becomes clear that his father himself did not properly clear his own famous case, The Loren Atherton case. Following a botched raid on a prison break via train, White is critically wounded. Exley visits him and finds evidence White built for his own case against a serial killer of prostitutes. When Exley finds the evidence, he learns the true meaning of absolute justice: anonymous, humble, no rank or glory.
While conventional justice is not meted out, with Exley entrusting the second murderer of the Loren Atherton case to a known doctor, Dr. Terry Lux, and the ultimate mastermind behind the Nite Owl and other crimes, Dudley Smith cannot be convicted due to lack of evidence, Exley vows he will take down Dudley Smith if it's the last thing he ever does. He has become colder and more determined in achieving his goals. He unwillingly allows Dave Klein to keep his job, despite Klein's obvious corruption. Exley continues his crusade in attempting to take down Dudley Smith. He uses an undercover police cadet and Klein to attain this goal.
During a burglary into Exley's house by Klein for monetary gain, he finds numerous photos of Dudley Smith.
Klein coins the photos "Exley hate fuel". During an earlier meeting at Exley's house, Klein mentions that as evil as Dudley is, Exley is a hypocrite in the way he uses people like Dudley. White Jazz sees the end of the corrupt Narcotics Division and its sanctioned dealers, the Kafesjians. Due to severe brain damage and wounds, Dudley remains in hospital care his whole life and a special pension fund approved by Exley himself, since the revelations about the LAPD's blatant corruption would "bring the LAPD to its knees", as stated in Hush-Hush.
With Klein a fugitive, Exley gets word to him in a package. It states he will not pursue Klein for his burglary because he used Klein to accomplish his mission. His package also includes a blank passport and a. He also states Dudley has cost him enough as it is. According to White Jazz's epilogue told by Klein, Exley ascends to the rank of chief of police.
He also develops a political career, from congressman , lieutenant governor and a candidate for governor. However, Klein plans to make Exley confess all his deals he has ever cut. In the L. Confidential film adaptation , he is portrayed by Guy Pearce and in the television pilot of L. Confidential , he is portrayed by David Conrad. Appearances: The Big Nowhere , L. Mickey Cohen was a real-life gangster active in Los Angeles, but his exploits in Ellroy's novels are mostly fictional.
Cohen has a large supporting role in "The Big Nowhere" which includes his relations with Buzz Meeks, who was one of the protagonists of "The Big Nowhere. Confidential film adaptation.
Bud White was one of the major protagonists in L. In the book he begins as an incredibly violent cop, who takes out his anger on wife beaters. This is shown to be because of his violent father who killed his mother in a drunken rage. Because of his quick temper and brutality Bud became the most feared cop on the force with nobody wishing to feel the brunt of his anger. However, he is shown to be sensitive with women and goes out of his way to help them.
This is shown when he becomes obsessed with tracking down a serial killer targeting young prostitutes.
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During the course of the book Bud has a long-standing feud with Ed Exley, due to Exley informing the D. This almost makes Bud lose his job until Dudley Smith recruits him into the homicide division, which Dudley operates. However, Bud's partner Dick Stensland is left as a scapegoat for the investigative D. Dudley recruited Bud because of his brutal strength and uses him as an enforcer. However, when it becomes clear that Dudley is corrupt and is using him for his own nefarious schemes, Bud drops his conflict with Exley and joins forces with him and Jack Vincennes to take Dudley Smith down.
However, during the investigation he is gravely wounded and is forced to retire. Before he leaves, the newly promoted Ed Exley promises him that he won't let Dudley get away with his crimes. Russell Crowe portrayed Bud in the adaptation of L. Confidential and Josh Hopkins portrayed Bud in the television pilot of L.
Detective Sergeant Jack Vincennes? Known for being flashy and colorful, as well as taking cases which get the most publicity. He famously arrested Bebop musician Charlie Parker and actor Robert Mitchum on two high-profile pot busts; from a tip off from Sid Hudgens.
However, over the course of the book his actions cause an amount of guilt and throws his life into turmoil, such as the loss of his marriage. He allies himself with Bud White and Ed Exley in a way to redeem himself. However, he dies in the book's climax. He is portrayed by Kevin Spacey in the film , who received top billing, despite his secondary role. In the television pilot made in , Vincennes is portrayed by Kiefer Sutherland. In the film adaptation of L. Confidential , Bracken is portrayed by Kim Basinger , and in the pilot, she is portrayed by Melissa George.
The protagonist of White Jazz. The novel is told through Dave Klein's stream of consciousness , as well as articles and newspaper headlines that accompany many of Ellroy's books. He is an immoral cop who, moonlights as a hitman, enforcer, slumlord and lawyer working for people such as Howard Hughes and the mob.