Gorgeously lurid, this perfectly selected set from the LAPD archives comes complete with a foreword from the force’s commissioner (who praises the current force and cites its continuing challenges) and a rat-a-tat introduction from Ellroy (L.A. Confidential, etc.), who sees the force as “a tormented giant working toward hard moral truths.” The truths that are on display in this book are mostly mortal, and they are, to a page, frightening and absolutely riveting. The LAPD’s crime scene photographers, from the 1920s to the 1960s, may have been part of a corrupt force, but they were brilliant photographers, framing and using light in ways that look completely contemporary; the ghastly scenes they capture—mostly of murders and some of execution-style multiple murders—are morbidly arresting. Ellroy dwells on the time travel the photos afford, but other readers will find them timeless, both in the stillness of the deaths they record and in the sameness of the images from decade to decade, as if they were all trapped within the Los Angeles of Barton Fink. That effect can be credited to the book’s production team (including editor Deborah Aaronson, designer Brankica Kovrlija and project organizer and archivist Robin Blackman for Fototeka); it gives the book a cohesion and force that most archive-based books, including crime-scene compendia, lack.