White Jazz: A Novel
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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, from racketeers and drug kingpins--all of them hell-bent on keeping their own secrets hidden. For Klein, "forty-two 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.
photographs, but he had this, this … po-lice sketch, he called it. Very same girl, good picture if you asks me.” “Was he a young man? Sandy-haired, late twenties?” “That’s right. He had this big pom-po-dour that he kept playin’ with.” Junior—maybe working off a Bureau likeness sheet. “What kind of questions did he ask you?” “He ask did that mousy little white girl ho’ roun’ here. I say, ‘I don’t know.’ He ask did I work the bars down here, and I say yes. He ask ’bout some Peepin’ Tom, I say I
accused me of trying to recruit customers for myself, so I stopped.” “What did Joseph Arden look like?” “Nice looking. Cultured looking. Maybe in his late forties. He looked like he had money.” “Tall, short, heavy, slender?” “Maybe six feet. I guess you’d say he had a medium build. Blue eyes, I think. What I guess you’d call medium-brown hair.” I showed the sketch. “Does this look like him?” “This man looks too young. The chin sort of reminds me of him, though.” Noise inside—Susan winced.
“Horse pucky.” “You’re either paying him protection, snitching for him or running from him.” “Horse pucky.” “Well, I don’t think snitching’s your style, but I think you’re looking over your shoulder a lot waiting for some Kafesjian guy to notice you.” “Maybe that’s true. But maybe the Kafesjians ain’t gonna control the Southside traffic that much longer.” “Did Junior Stemmons tell you that?” “Maybe he did. But maybe it’s just loose talk pertainin’ to this big Southside Federal thing. And
rolled over for Welles Noonan.” This greaseball thug—sweating off Joan Crawford’s perfume. “Hand the fuckers up. Give me details.” “Detail this”—one smashed middle finger twirling. “Suck on this, you kraut cocksuck—” I grabbed his hand—a wall socket close—jam that fuck-you finger in— Sparks/smoke—Chick convulsing—live-wire jolts shaking me. Pete shook me: “STOP IT, YOU’LL KILL HIM!” Chick shook free: juiced-up hip-hops on his knees, going green. Fast: Pete tossed him on the bed. Pillows,
gangs. A Dudley Smith charade—SOMEHOW. Look: Exley kicking up water—his cuffs soaked. Noonan closer—trousers rolled, fucking garters. Tech talk, scrambled: Handguns on the stiffs. Spent rounds up top—threads attached—the killers wore bulletproof vests. Lab men swamping Exley, holding him back. Noonan on me, splashing me. Waving photos—matching dead men—dead panicked. “Oh God, oh no. We identified these—” I steered him clear of Exley. Noonan kicked at the water—shotgun shells jumped.