Thriller ‘Public Panic’: Only losers show remorse – Culture

The stage is a corridor next to the murder cells in Los Angeles. Year: 1953. Six people were robbed and shot at the Nite Owl Café, and the police chief wants to quickly show the culprits to the public. Three young black men were arrested and placed in three small interrogation cabins.

Police officers can watch through a transparent mirror their colleague questioning the men. He’s hilarious, addresses a suspect as “my son,” and talks about youth imprisonment and boxing matches. Even at some point he threatens: “It’s all about your head, you’ll end up in the gas chamber.”

gas chamber threat

Then he presses a button under the table and friends of the battered man can listen through the loudspeaker while they are outside. Gun ownership and rape. But the man stuck to his statement: “We didn’t kill anyone!” It doesn’t matter that they have nothing to do with the murders.

It is part of the art of crime writer James Ellroy that he can turn an interrogation into a drama in just a few pages of a book, where, in addition to fear and anger, the racism of an entire era intensifies. In “LA Confidential,” the third part of his four-book on the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), published in 1990, the police appear as a corrupt and largely criminal organization. The interrogation scene was made most famous by the Hollywood film adaptation of Curtis Hanson.

Thirty years later, Elroy—now 74—writes another novel that once again delves deeper into the LAPD swamp. ‘Public Panic’ is more or less associated with ‘LA Confidential’. Among the main supporting characters there was Syd Hudgens, the sleazy reporter portrayed in the film by Danny DeVito, who exposes sex scandals involving Hollywood stars in “Hush-Hush Magazine” but would rather be bribed to stop it.

In Ellroy’s work, reality and fantasy constitute a complex entity that cannot be separated from each other. Hush-Hush magazine was around, as did the tabloid Confidential, which it replaces in General Panic. The first-person narrator is the writer’s most creative employee, Fred Otach, who, unlike Hudgens, actually lived. The reporter and former LAPD cop is said to have served as a role model for Jack Nicholson for the intruder who got his nose bloodshot in the classic movie Chinatown.

In “Public Panic” Freddy Attash talks about the afterlife, the embarrassing part of it. He’s been roasting in Hell for 28 years, sitting in dungeon 2,607 of “perverted purgatory,” and since things seem organized there in a similar way to a prison, he can hope for his release (ergo to heaven) if he confesses and repents of his sins. Although he says, “Repentance is a thing for the lazy and the losers,” but then he begins to narrate more than 400 pages in a large retrospective of egotistical mania that took place from 1949 to 1960 in the Elroy District, one obsessive and mirror fencing off the author’s bloated second edition from Los Angeles.

Death Rays of Pompeii

“Los Angeles looked like Pompeii after the earthquake. The summer sun ate the sky and sent out death rays.” It sounds like a vision of the end of the world, but it could also be the result of a first-person drug use by the narrator, who likes to combine his favorite old crown whiskey with the tonic Dexedrine. Constantly active.

Otouche is often thought of as being transformed into a giant ant, as in the novel by William S. Burroughs or in the B-movie by science fiction director Jack Arnold. Los Angeles in the 1950s seemed to be a city in constant and direct contact with the future. The parties to nuclear tests are celebrated several times on the rooftops of huts or hotels, where, after a countdown on the radio (“four – three – one – ignition”), guests stare in awe at the mushroom cloud soaring in the sky over the Nevada desert.

Atash will do whatever it takes to obtain material for his readers, hungry for scandalous revelations. It scrutinizes apartments, records calls, and uses forensic techniques to place fingerprints on vulnerable locations. Depending on his mood, he can threaten, flatter, or use blackjack.

Atash considers himself a “Shaman Shaman” and “King of Skakedown”, the extortionist leader. There are only two things he will never do, as he asserts when he signs a contract with a garbage publisher: “Commit murder or work for the Communists.” The dirtier the title, the better. The number of copies sold increases eightfold. “The secrecy showed the edge. Secret stepped on toes. My secret began.”

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Atash had previously undergone murder (extrajudicial execution). It was an execution, commissioned by LAPD colleagues, for a thief who shot a police officer. Atash was supposed to take him from a hospital to police headquarters, and Elroy describes the process in the classic vocabulary of hard-boiled thrillers: “I took out my service pistol and shot him in his mouth. His teeth ripped out. He fell to the ground. I put the incriminating pistol in his right hand.” Atash does not really know remorse, but he regularly sends money to the widow. When she is killed, he does everything in his power to find the culprit. I was about to start liking him.

James Elroy is known for his choppy sentences, which are the motivating voice for his novels. From the start, his books became increasingly eccentric and extravagant.

Fred Otach in Panic is a caricature of an unreliable, ostentatious narrator with brutal vanity and an endless thirst for communication. In addition, like many of Ellroy’s heroes, he has a penchant for machismo, homophobic and racial stereotypes. making him the average white man in the post-war period.

[James Ellroy: Allgemeine Panik. Roman. Aus dem Englischen von Stephen Tree. Ullstein Verlag, Berlin. 432 Seiten, 26 €.]

In Freddy’s stories, the past feels almost as real as the present in a frightening way. You have to be very careful not to miss any details or name. Read it like a ghost train ride, a new, ghostly past, and familiar characters. Thirst arrests James Dean as a shoplifter and makes him his informant. He has sex with Liz Taylor, arranges candidates for marriage with Rock Hudson, whose homosexuality should not be revealed, and takes pianist Tiger Liberace to a nursing home.

He purchased drugs and called girls for John F. Kennedy, then Senator. Elroy had already dealt with JFK, the Cuban missile crisis, and the mafia in his 800-page book American Thriller.

With Public Panic, Elroy once again proves his qualities as a historian of the American Abyss. It’s a hell of a journey with no happy ending.

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