August 30, 2006


A Master and a Masterpiece (OTTO PENZLER, August 30, 2006, NY Sun)

In the evolution of the modern police story, there is a straight line from Ed McBain, the greatest of all procedural writers, to Joseph Wambaugh, who showed the real life of police officers, on and off the job, to James Ellroy, whose ambitious novels involve cops as they are integrated into a greater political and sociological universe.

Tips of the hat go to other significant figures, such as Lawrence Treat, who invented the procedural; Robert Daley, whose best sellers rivaled the successes of Mr. Wambaugh's in the 1970s; Georges Simenon, whose Maigret novellas relied more on intuition than procedure; the impeccable Michael Connelly; the inspired Lucas Davenport in the Prey series of John Sanford; the always inventive George Pelecanos; and the British superstars: Ian Rankin, Peter Robinson, and John Harvey.

Mr. Ellroy is probably best known for "L.A. Confidential" and, the world being what it is, this is largely due to the Oscar-nominated film based on it. This may well change as the movie version of "The Black Dahlia" will be released next month and which, if advance word is any indication, is a humdinger. To coincide with the opening of the motion picture, a new trade paperback edition of "The Black Dahlia" has just been released.

The one real must-read from this list of author's is actually the non-fiction, Target Blue: An Insider's View of the N.Y.P.D., by Robert Daley, based on his year as an assitant commissioner of NYC police in the early 70s. Among the cases he was involved in that year were: "[t]he Knapp Commission Hearings, the story behind Detective Frank Serpico, the assassination of cops by the Black Liberation Army (BLA), the shooting of Joseph Columbo, the "French Connection" story, the "Happy Hooker" story, and the Harlem Mosque Murder."

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 30, 2006 8:22 AM
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