When Paul Pringle got a tip about an overdose at a fancy hotel and the involvement of a medical man, he thought the story would be a quick one to complete. But the man at the hotel was Dean of Medicine at USC, Carmen Puliafito, and the University had it’s fingers in a lot of pies, from local police to Paul’s own paper. The cover up and what he found out showed corruption that went all the way to the top.
Paul Pringle is a Pulitzer prize winning investigative journalist, and this book shows his tight, journalistic writing style. He describes people and places evocatively but with minimal words, and he is very careful about everything being fact checked and corroborated. It’s been described as reading like a non-fiction thriller, which I think isn’t really the most apt description. But it does have excellent pacing and a lot of tension. And like a lot of thrillers, I devoured it in a single sitting.
I was pretty curious to read this one. When Celadon sent out this book to readers for review, rather than sending out advance copies ahead of time, they waited til almost publication date instead to send out finished copies. It was all a bit hush hush what the book was even about, other than corruption in Los Angeles, which gave the impression that they didn’t want anything leaked ahead of time in case someone tried to stop it being published. Whether this was really the case or not, the intrigue this created was delicious.
I was gripped the whole way through this book and it was an unsettling read. There’s something so awful about the sheer amount of corruption, it’s reach, and also the individual human lives effected by it. It really struck me how much courage it takes to stand up in the face of this kind of power and how often the lives of the whistleblowers and the victims are ruined forever, while the gross fat cats at the top are made to just retire with a fat bonus, especially in America lately. It was comforting to me that there are people who do persevere in the face of stories like these, and that there are people who believe in truth and fairness and who will stand up for it. It’s a really great story.
The book also has some interesting insights into the world of the newspaper and investigative journalism, as well. I liked learning a bit about how that works, what a newspaper looks like currently and all the ins and outs of how the process works and who does what at the paper. So that was a bonus for me.
All in all, a really good non-fiction read and one that I recommend.
Read It If: you like real life LA Noir, this is a fascinating and unsettling real life story. It shows how much we still need our investigative journalists and the outlets they write for.
Bad City is out July 19. Thank you to Celadon Books for the copy of this book for review.