James Ellroy: LAPD ’53 Reviewed

LAPD5301LAPD ‘53
James Ellroy with Glynn Martin
Abrams Image



When I think James Ellroy I think 1950s hardboiled edgy fiction and attitudes and mostly California. So a book titled LAPD 53? Hell yes I’m interested.

LAPD5302This is non-fiction, a photo book plus. Co-Written by with Glynn Martin (executive director of Los Angeles Police Museum) it is a slice of history served up with no pretention or glamour. Filled with photos taken by and for LAPD in the calendar year of 1953 this is full of striking and interesting images that any crime fiction or true crime fan will love. It’s not all crime scenes either, there are shots of victims sure, but also shots of police on the job, re-enactments by detectives, evidence, and mug shots. I have a number of books of police and crime photos, I’m fascinated by them, especially anything pre 1970. What makes this book stand out is that James Ellroy has written something to go with each photo or sets of photos. The Crime Dog numero uno of LA is what really makes this such a great book. Ellroy’s voice is perfect for filling us in on the happenings of these photos and I can almost hear his voice when I read it. (in my head he’s almost laughing). A line in the introduction sums up why this works so well as a photo book about the pics in this book: “They portray trouble in paradise. Great cities resist containment. Urban planning is futile”
ellroyThis is a damn cool book and while I think many people will enjoy it for themselves, it would also make a damn fine gift to any crime enthusiast.

Jon Jordan