So the rundown is as follows: I love this book. I think it's one of the best crime novels I've ever read, and that James Ellroy, along with Raymond Chandler, is one of the few people who actually gets noir. The characters and dialogue are definitely the high points of the work, as well as a plot that twists and turns in just the right way, so each new revelation drives home the point that everyone involved is in over their heads. It's a very dark, beautiful book about flawed characters trying to find a way to take out the worse people before they themselves are consumed. Ellroy has a good handle on the "shades of grey" areas, and while his heroes are not particularly sympathetic, they are compelling enough to care what happens to them and part of the fun of the book is how they grapple with their personal demons. Not that a book like LA Confidential should ever be considered "fun".
The downside is, the book is very dark and more than a little brutal. There's a lot of racist slurs bandied about, and some homophobic insults. All of this is presented without flinching or restraint, and that's just the tip of the iceberg. The book is about a case involving a brutal sextuple homicide, pornographic books, and stolen drugs. It handles it in the most direct and unflinching way possible, with all the language and graphic content that entails. That they had to rework a few sections of the plot to keep the film at an R rating says more than enough. While the language and content works for the time period and the atmosphere Ellroy wanted to evoke, it's still gonna be too much for some people.
More, as always, below.