The struggle for the soul of America’s most seductive city boasts the blah on the front of John Butin’s rampaging new book on the history of West coast criminals and crime fighters. There’s lots to chew on here if you are new the rich milieu that is the LA Underworld. We get large portion helpings from all the usual suspects. Mickey Cohen tells us he ‘Didn’t kill no one who didn’t deserve it .’Although he arguably killed lots of people who did. We also get a fascinating and in depth run down on LAPD’s Bill Parker and Daryl (Special Weapons and Tactics ) Gates. Apparently Star Trek Writer Gene Roddenburry based the character of Spock on his former boss in the LAPD big Bill Parker. It is snippets like this that make this book a delicious read. Where the book falls down somewhat is its ability to move beyond a straight ahead history. As a crime fan I felt that the Mickey Cohen story in particular has been done better elsewhere , particularly in Bradley Lewis’s book Celebrity Gangster. The book is nonetheless fascinating as crime writer and LA evacuee Michael Connelly suggests. I would recommend it to everyone, particularly those struggling to discover the bad men and harsh realities that lay behind the work of such writers as James Ellroy.