By Vanessa V. Friedman
April 09, 1999 at 04:00 AM EDT

Crime Wave

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James Ellroy is the Puff Daddy of crime narrative; he raps the rap better than anyone else. If in doubt, simply cock an ear, or an eye, at any of the 11 pieces in this collection. In Crime Wave they bounce between fiction, memoir, and reporting, but they all ring with the beat of murder, drugs, L.A., and mayhem — subjects that have been Ellroy’s obsession since his mother’s murder in 1958. There’s the story of the unsolved death of a Hollywood starlet; a highly inventive excerpt from the life of Danny Getchell, editor of Hush-Hush magazine (Getchell made an appearance in the novel L.A. Confidential); cameos by Johnny Stompanato and other B-grade Hollywood figures; and assorted brilliant asides about memory, obsession, and the ”spark-point of harrowing curiosities.” Read together, the pieces have the explosive effect of an AK-47. A-

Crime Wave

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