Clandestine, by James Ellroy (Arrow, £6.99 in UK)

 

First published in the early Eighties, this is a timely reissue of Ellroy's second novel. As he says in his introduction, it is a period forerunner of his classic LA Quartet, of which LA Confidential is probably the bestknown. This one is set in 1951 and it tells of the roller-coaster career of Patrolman Fred Underhill of the Los Angeles Police Department. Not exactly your run-of-the-mill cop, Underhill is an ambitious rookie eager to get on by fair means or foul. The murder of a woman he has recently slept with gives him the opportunity to buy into the case, but he soon finds himself in over his head and at the mercy of the most unscrupulous detective in the division, Lieutenant Dudley Smith. As hard-boiled as a ten-minute egg, Clandestine takes you to the darkest recesses of the human condition.