Crime writer James Ellroy goes back in time before L. A. Confidential to December 1941. It’s supposed to be the beginning of another Quartet of novels about crime and corruption in Los Angeles. Some of the characters appear in later novels. Others are new. The writing isn’t as austere as some of Ellroy’s recent work, but he’s still writing short, punchy sentences that skimp on description and just deliver the (mostly fictional) facts.