The Thunder's Mouth Press reissue of John Gregory Dunne's 1977 crime fiction masterpiece True Confessions -- which revolves around the infamous unsolved murder of Elizabeth Short in 1947 Los Angeles and the complex relationship between two Irish-American brothers -- includes a priceless introduction by renowned crime novelist and producer George Pelecanos.
When the body of a dead woman is found cut in half and sexually brutalized near the Los Angeles Coliseum, she is tagged as the Virgin Tramp by the media. As the murder investigation drags on, hard-nosed LAPD homicide detective Tom Spellacy deals with the cover-up of an influential priest who died while in a "compromising position" at a sleazy brothel. Meanwhile, Tom's brother, Desmond, a hard-charging priest, becomes involved in another scandal involving a crooked contractor and numerous jobs involving the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Both brothers -- knee-deep in political and ethical corruption -- must somehow find their own paths to salvation.
Brutally unsentimental yet paradoxically, profoundly compassionate, Dunne's crime fiction magnum opus was -- and still is -- a landmark literary achievement. In the novel's introduction, Pelecanos calls True Confessions one of the most influential novels written in post-Vietnam America. He concludes: "In the end, one realizes that this is not a story about a murder. Rather, it deals with the truly important subjects that the American novel rarely addresses: mortality and the passage of time." Understated, sublime, and brilliantly cynical, this intensely atmospheric classic will never lose its gritty appeal -- True Confessions is a novel that practically demands to be read again and again -- and again. Paul Goat Allen