Widespread Panic: A Novel (Large Print / Paperback)
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From the modern master of noir comes a novel about the king of the 1950s Hollywood underground--a tale of pervasive paranoia filled with communist conspiracies, FBI finks, celebrity smut films, and strange bedfellows.
Fred Otash is the man in the know and the man to know in Tinseltown. He operates with two simple rules--he'll do anything but murder, and he'll never work with commies.
Fred is a corrupt L.A. cop on the skids. He executed a cop killer named Horvath and it gores him. So Captain "Whiskey" Bill Parker cans him. Now, Freddie dons an array of new hats--sleazoid private eye, shakedown artist, matchmaker for Rock Hudson, pimp for President John F. Kennedy--and, most notably--the lead tipster and head strongarm goon for Confidential magazine. Confidential presaged the idiot internet--and delivered the dirt, the dish, the insidious ink and the scurrilous skank on the feckless foibles of misanthropic movie stars, sex-soiled socialites, and putzo politicians. Freaky Freddy outs them all!
In Widespread Panic we traverse the depths of '50s L.A. and internalize the inner workings of Confidential. Dig: You'll go to Burt Lancaster's lushly appointed torture den. . . You'll gas on overhyped legend James Dean as Freddy's chief stooge. . . You'll be there for Freddy's ring-a-ding rendezvous with Liz Taylor. . . You'll be front and center as Freddy runs roughshod over the stars of the silver screen and the demimonde of the Hollywood hills.
About the Author
JAMES ELLROY was born in Los Angeles in 1948. He is the author of the Underworld U.S.A. Trilogy: American Tabloid, The Cold Six Thousand, and Blood's A Rover, and the L.A. Quartet novels: The Black Dahlia, The Big Nowhere, L. A. Confidential, and White Jazz. He lives in Colorado.
ONE OF NPR'S BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR
"Graphic, stunning and in many instances hilarious. . . . No punches are pulled, and no literary expense is spared."
“Widespread Panic is quintessential Ellroy, but with enough alliteration, Hollyweird flavor, booze, distressed damsels, communist conspiracies, and extortion to make this the most Ellroy novel he's ever written. . . . Wildly entertaining and memorable. . . . Otash's voice is unlike anything else in contemporary fiction. . . . A spiritual companion to L.A. Confidential.”
“There is here, as in Ellroy’s other novels, so fully researched and plausible an evocation of the world about which he writes, so deft an intermingling of the real and fictional characters that the novelist asks the reader to believe that these events could have happened, and that some of them (Jack Kennedy’s exhaustive and exhausting philandering, for example) probably did. This commingling of fact and fiction is, of course, the basis upon which the myths of Hollywood, and hence, at this point, those of our broader American culture, rest.”
—Claire Messud, Harper's Magazine
“Widespread Panic unfolds in shimmering Ellroyvision. In recounting his sinful past, Freewheeling Freddy mainlines the repetitive rhumba of his scandal sheet until it’s become the mother’s milk of his speech and psyche, and he bops to alliteration’s alluring algorithm.”
—Tom Nolan, The Wall Street Journal
“[Ellroy is] the dean of Los Angeles crime novelists. . . . You come [to Ellroy] to roll around in the blood and the mud, to ping along to the plot twists and betrayals.”
—Los Angeles Times
“If you love Ellroy, you’ll love this wild ride.”
—The Washington Post (10 Books to read in June)
“Devious and delicious. . . . Ellroy’s total command of the jazzy, alliterative argot of the era never fails to astonish. This is a must for L.A. noir fans.”
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Wildly flamboyant. . . . A spectacular explosion of language. For those with a taste for foul-mouthed fireworks and freeform jazz solos, both dazzling and exhausting, Ellroy is your man.”
—Booklist (starred review)
“A noirish romp through the sewage of 1950s Hollywood sleaze. . . . Entertainingly hop-headed. . . . The author [is] operating at maximum efficiency, mainlining a primo blend of over-the-top alliteration and down-in-the-gutter scandal. . . . A delirious thrill ride through the tabloid underbelly of Tinseltown. Relentlessly rabid, for those with a taste for the seamier.”