« | Home | »

Wapping Confidential

Tags: |

Writing in the Guardian, Jonathan Freedland compares events in and around the Murdoch empire – with ‘around’ including Westminster and New Scotland Yard – to the Danish crime series The Killing. I applaud the in-your-face Guardian-ness of Freedland’s analogy, but it seems to me that James Ellroy has a stronger claim than Søren Sveistrup to have pre-scripted Wapping Confidential. It’s partly a matter of the strongly noir-ish overtones to the Murdochs’ performances in front of the select committee on Tuesday, with James’s eerie mid-Atlantic/Pacific voice giving him the air of an Australian actor channelling Kevin Spacey as a serial killer, and Rupert evoking John Huston in Chinatown by way of Clive James. But there are similarities of plot and motif as well.

Each of Ellroy’s best novels – The Black Dahlia, The Big Nowhere, LA Confidential and White Jazz – features some or all of the following ingredients:

An investigation into a serial killer that gets mixed up with a high-level conspiracy.

Interlocking power-plays and covert co-operations and cover-ups among politicians, police brass and tycoons.

Grudging resignations among same.

Excursions into the world of showbiz, especially that of glamorous female film stars.

Seamy private eyes and tabloid reporters, some of whom turn up dead.

A deeply screwed-up, colossally rich family, headed up by an immigrant patriarch and filled with rivalrous siblings.

An inscrutable redhead who’s viewed in a disturbingly sexualised way by the narrative.

The main difference is that, in an Ellroy novel, the serial killer will turn out to have been brutalised as a side-effect of the immigrant patriarch’s money-making schemes. Would it count if Levi Bellfield read the Sun or watched Sky Sports? Probably not, though some might disagree.

Comments on “Wapping Confidential”

  1. Harry Stopes says:

    Off the record, on the QT, and very hush hush.

Comment on this post

Log in or register to post a comment.


  • Recent Posts

    RSS – posts

  • Contributors

  • Recent Comments

    • andymartinink on Reacher v. Parker: Slayground definitely next on my agenda. But to be fair to Lee Child, as per the Forbes analysis, there is clearly a massive collective reader-writer ...
    • Robert Hanks on Reacher v. Parker: And in Breakout, Parker, in prison, teams up with a black guy to escape; another white con dislikes it but accepts the necessity; Parker is absolutely...
    • Robert Hanks on Reacher v. Parker: Parker may not have the integrity and honesty of Marlowe, but I'd argue that Richard Stark writes with far more of both than Raymond Chandler does: Ch...
    • Christopher Tayler on Reacher v. Parker: Good to see someone holding up standards. The explanation is that I had thoughts - or words - left over from writing about Lee Child. (For Chandler se...
    • Geoff Roberts on Reacher v. Parker: ..."praised in the London Review of Books" Just read the article on Lee Child in a certain literary review and was surprised to find this rave notice...

    RSS – comments

  • Contact

  • Blog Archive

  • From the LRB Archive

    Chris Lehmann: The Candidates
    18 June 2015

    ‘Every one of the Republican candidates can be described as a full-blown adult failure. These are people who, in most cases, have been granted virtually every imaginable advantage on the road to success, and managed nevertheless to foul things up along the way.’

    Hugh Pennington:
    The Problem with Biodiversity
    10 May 2007

    ‘As a medical microbiologist, for example, I have spent my career fighting biodiversity: my ultimate aim has been to cause the extinction of harmful microbes, an objective shared by veterinary and plant pathologists. But despite more than a hundred years of concentrated effort, supported by solid science, smallpox has been the only success.’

    Jeremy Harding: At the Mexican Border
    20 October 2011

    ‘The battle against illegal migration is a domestic version of America’s interventions overseas, with many of the same trappings: big manpower commitments, militarisation, pursuit, detection, rendition, loss of life. The Mexican border was already the focus of attention before 9/11; it is now a fixation that shows no signs of abating.’

    James Meek: When the Floods Came
    31 July 2008

    ‘Last July, a few days after the floods arrived, with 350,000 people still cut off from the first necessity of life, Severn Trent held its annual general meeting. It announced profits of £325 million, and confirmed a dividend for shareholders of £143 million. Not long afterwards the company, with the consent of the water regulator Ofwat, announced that it wouldn’t be compensating customers: all would be charged as if they had had running water, even when they hadn’t.’

Advertisement Advertisement