Picks and Pans Review: Pick of the Week

updated 06/13/1994 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 06/13/1994 AT 01:00 AM EDT

>Beach book, n. 1) a collection of words, none of them big, adding up to trashy, splashy fun; 2) any volume marked by the absence of Important Ideas and the presence of Coppertone stains 3) a weekly PEOPLE recommendation through Labor Day.

HOLLYWOOD NOCTURNES by James Ellroy

Ellroy's mother was murdered in 1958, when he was 10. The crime was never solved. That experience might drive some people to religion; others to drink. It turned Ellroy into a jazzy, brutal crime novelist. His stuff is usually told first person and is invariably a sensor overload, short on logic and long on excitement. He sets his stories in his native L.A. decades ago, giving them the authentic feel of vintage pulp fiction. This new collection of pieces, if not as absorbing as The Black Dahlia and L.A. Confidential, nonetheless has more creepies and crawlies than could be hidden under all the rocks in the world. (Otto Penzler, $20)

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