Widespread Panic: A novel (Paperback)
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From the modern master of noir comes a novel based on the real-life Hollywood fixer Freddy Otash, the malevolent monarch of the 1950s L.A. underground, and his Tinseltown tabloid Confidential magazine.
“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.... A spiritual companion to L.A. Confidential.” —NPR
Freddy Otash was the man in the know and the man to know in '50s L.A. He was a rogue cop, a sleazoid private eye, a shakedown artist, a pimp—and, most notably, the head strong-arm goon for Confidential magazine.
Confidential presaged the idiot Internet—and delivered the dirt, the dish, the insidious ink, and the scurrilous skank. It mauled misanthropic movie stars, sex-soiled socialites, and putzo politicians. Mattress Jack Kennedy, James Dean, Montgomery Clift, Burt Lancaster, Liz Taylor, Rock Hudson—Frantic Freddy outed them all. He was the Tattle Tyrant who held Hollywood hostage, and now he’s here to confess.
“I’m consumed with candor and wracked with recollection. I’m revitalized and resurgent. My meshugenah march down memory lane begins NOW.”
In Freddy’s viciously entertaining voice, Widespread Panic torches 1950s Hollywood to the ground. It’s a blazing revelation of coruscating corruption, pervasive paranoia, and sin and redemption with nothing in between.
Here is James Ellroy in savage quintessence. Freddy Otash confesses—and you are here to read and succumb.
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.”