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L.A.’s Noir Past Revealed In James Ellroy’s New Book Of ’50s Murder Scenes

A scantily clad, hooded figure hangs by a chain in a family living room. A man wearing sunglasses and a fedora sits covered by a white sheet; it’s hard to know whether he’s dead or alive. But this isn’t a scene from a movie–these photos are taken from the LAPD’s archives, documenting the violent year of 1953, part of a decade long climb in crime across the city.

The noir author James Ellroy, whose works include L.A. Confidential, was trawling the Los Angeles Police Museum when he came across these darkly evocative shots. Ellroy was so struck by their violence that he collaborated with museum director Glynn Martin to put together a new book, combining these real life noir photos and his writing.

With 80 police shots and 25,000 words by Ellroy, LAPD ’53 delves into these stories and the grim police culture that surrounded them as the city fought to maintain order over organized crime. The book is available now in hardcover from Amazon.

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