Best Book of the Year
The Los Angeles Times • The Washington Post
Los Angeles was the fastest growing city in the world, mad with oil fever, get-rich-quick schemes, and celebrity scandals. It was also rife with organized crime, with a mayor in the pocket of the syndicates and a DA taking bribes to throw trials. In A Bright and Guilty Place , Richard Rayner narrates the entwined lives of two men, Dave Clark and Leslie White, who were caught up in the crimes, murders, and swindles of the day. Over a few transformative years, as the boom times shaded into the Depression, the adventures of Clark and White would inspire pulp fiction and replace L.A.’s reckless optimism with a new cynicism. Together, theirs is the tale of how the city of sunshine went noir.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
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|Title of History eBook: A Bright and Guilty Place: Murder, Corruption, and L.A.'s Scandalous Coming of Age|
|Release Date: 06-23-2009|
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|Publisher: Random House, Inc.|
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A Bright and Guilty Place: Murder, Corruption, and L.A.'s Scandalous Coming of Age
The Mystery Is Announced
"CHARLIE CRAWFORD AND EDITOR SLAIN!" screamed the headline in the Los Angeles Illustrated Daily News. The date was Thursday, March 20, 1931. At about 4:30 P.M. the previous afternoon the fifty-four-year-old Crawford, nicknamed "The Gray Wolf" because of the silvery-gray hair that waved and curled across his head, had been gunned down in his office on Sunset Boulevard. Also killed was Herbert Spencer, a veteran journalist who'd been with Crawford in the room. "EX-BOSS FALLS TO LONG-FEARED GUNMAN BULLET," the News went on. "Crawford, kingpin politician, lived until 8:32 P.M. last night, a little more than four hours after the shooting. He died without revealing the identity of his assailant, according to detectives . . ."
Crawford had been, and many believed he still was, a "boss," a key player in what was known as "The System," a low-profile but all-powerful syndicate that ran the gambling, prostitution, and bootlegging rackets in Los Angeles. "He was the most feared and dictatorial power in the city, its behind-the-scenes czar," wrote Beverly Davis, who ran an upscale brothel for Crawford. "You could get away with murder under his wing." This was L.A.'s brand of gangsterism: Crawford used officers of the Los Angeles Police Department to collect the take from the underworld captains. He worked behind the scenes with Kent Kane Parrot, a fixer who'd had George Cryer, the mayor of Los Angeles from 1921-29, pretty much in his pocket. It was a discreet yet effective arrangement that had been in place since Crawford and Parrot contrived to get Cryer elected. As far as the rackets were concerned, L.A. had...