I had become convinced that LAPD officers affiliated with Death Row Records had been involved in the conspiracy to kill Biggie Smalls and none of the brass wanted to hear that," former LAPD homicide detective Russell Poole states in Labyrinth, neatly encapsulating the central issue of a crime drama big enough to touch both coasts and several points between. Expanding his already convincing Rolling Stone article, Randall Sullivan reveals a pocket of the LAPD that, in the '90s, divided its allegiances unevenly between protecting and serving the public, and living off the largesse of Death Row Records, its CEO Suge Knight, and the Bloods gang. And that's for starters. Living up to its title, Labyrinth presents a tangle of characters and motives on its way to presenting a possible solution to the murders of Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls. That solution points to one man: Knight. Labyrinth is thoroughly effective in implicating Knight in Smalls' murder, and relatively effective in pinning Shakur's murder on him, as well. Sullivan finds in Knight a villain with resources to match his ruthlessness, and influence capable of creating a James Ellroy-like world of divided loyalties among corruptible cops. By Sullivan's account, Knight's power was kept unchecked by higher-ups at the LAPD, who hoped to avoid a scandal: Already notorious for the racism revealed by the Rodney King incident and the botched handling of the O.J. Simpson case, the LAPD didn't need to add gangsta cops to its list of offenses. Sullivan occasionally reveals lapses in his knowledge of the hip-hop world—for example, he attributes Tha Dogg Pound's album Dogg Food to Snoop Dogg—and he never attempts to demonstrate an appreciation for the music. But his knowledge of the L.A. netherworld compensates. As Sullivan's Virgil, Poole comes off as a hero to match Knight's villain, a straight-arrow cop amidst incalculable crookedness. His instincts and hard work are vindicated here in a way that due process wouldn't permit

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