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  • Published: 1 September 2021
  • ISBN: 9781785152573
  • Imprint: William Heinemann
  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 336
  • RRP: $50.00

Widespread Panic

Freddy Otash Confesses

A return to the sleazy underbelly of Ellroy's 1950's Los Angeles

From The Modern Master of Noir comes a novel about the malevolent monarch of the 1950s Hollywood underground - a tale of pervasive paranoia teeming with communist conspiracies, FBI finks, celebrity smut films and strange bedfellows.

Freddy Otash is the man in the know and the man to know in '50s L.A. He operates with two simple rules - he'll do anything but commit murder and he'll never work with the commies.

Freddy is an ex-L.A. cop on the skids. He snuffed a cop killer in cold blood - and it got to him bad. So Chief William H. Parker canned him. Now he's a sleazoid private eye, a shakedown artist, a pimp - and, most notably, the head strongarm goon for Confidential magazine.Confidential presaged the idiot internet - and delivered the dirt, the dish, the insidious ink and the scurrilous skank on the feckless foibles of misanthropic movie stars, sex-soiled socialites and potzo politicians. Freaky Freddy outs them all!

In Widespread Panic, we traverse the depths of '50s L.A. and dig on the inner workings of Confidential. You'll go to Burt Lancaster's lushly appointed torture den; you'll groove overhyped legend James Dean as Freddy's chief stooge; you'll be there for Freddy's ring-a-ding rendezvous with Liz Taylor; you'll be front and centre as Freddy anoints himself the 'Tattle Tyrant Who Held Hollywood Hostage'.

  • Published: 1 September 2021
  • ISBN: 9781785152573
  • Imprint: William Heinemann
  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 336
  • RRP: $50.00

About the author

James Ellroy

Date: 2003-05-13
James Ellroy was born in Los Angeles in 1948. He is the author of the ‘Underworld U.S.A. Trilogy’ – American Tabloid, The Cold Six Thousand and Blood’s a Rover – and the ‘L.A. Quartet’ novels, The Black Dahlia, The Big Nowhere,L.A. Confidential andWhite Jazz. He lives in Colorado.

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Praise for Widespread Panic

This 1950s standalone outing, told in a lacerating first person, represents the barely coherent confessions of a corrupt cop who has become an equally compromised private investigator for the scandal mag Confidential. Freddy Otash leads the reader through a Dante's Inferno reimagined as a sleazy Hollywood (with real-life figures galore - such as film star James Dean - all handled in scurrilous fashion) as he tracks down the killer of one of Kennedy's mistresses. Purgatory is rarely this much fun.

Financial Times

Purgatory is rarely this much fun.

Financial Times

As an exercise in style, Widespread Panic is extraordinary... Ellroy's legion of fans will love it.

Mark Sanderson, The Times

His most compelling novel in ages.

Jake Kerridge, Daily Telegraph

I thought it was brilliant.

Belfast Telegraph

Great fun.

i Paper

Very definitely one for Ellroy fans to lap up like warm milk.


A characteristically vigorous tour of his established territory ... Like drinking a pint of espresso.

Sam Leith, Times Literary Supplement

James Ellroy is the king of macho noir.

Laura Wilson, The Guardian

What astonishes at first is how an apparently breathless style forces you to slow down: there are passages where the prose reads more like poetry. It's writing to relish, even if the events described are a non-stop cavalcade of debauchery, double-dealing, drugs, drama, deceit, and death. The Demon Dog delivers, indubitably.

The Quietus

Ellroy still lives and breathes in the 1950s and no one could have come up with a book like this but him. Fascinating, gripping, dubious but unique.

Crime Time

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