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1. The Hilliker Curse: My Pursuit
2. Blood's A Rover (Vintage)
3. My Dark Places
4. Clandestine
5. Destination: Morgue!: L.A. Tales
6. American Tabloid: A Novel
7. The Big Nowhere
8. Brown's Requiem
9. The Black Dahlia
10. Because the Night
11. Suicide Hill
12. The Cold Six Thousand
13. L.A. Confidential
14. The Dudley Smith Trio: "Big Nowhere",
15. Hollywood Nocturnes (Vintage)
16. SEIS DE LOS GRANDES (Spanish Edition)
17. White Jazz: A Novel
18. Blood on the Moon
19. The Best American Noir of the
20. Scene of the Crime: Photographs

1. The Hilliker Curse: My Pursuit of Women
by James Ellroy
Hardcover: 224 Pages (2010-09-07)
list price: US$24.95 -- used & new: US$13.50
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0307593509
Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
The legendary crime writer gives us a raw, brutally candid memoir—as high intensity and as riveting as any of his novels—about his obsessive search for “atonement in women.”

The year was 1958. Jean Hilliker had divorced her fast-buck hustler husband and resurrected her maiden name. Her son, James, was ten years old. He hated and lusted after his mother and “summoned her dead.” She was murdered three months later.

The Hilliker Curse
is a predator’s confession, a treatise on guilt and on the power of malediction, and above all, a cri de cœur. James Ellroy unsparingly describes his shattered childhood, his delinquent teens, his writing life, his love affairs and marriages, his nervous breakdown, and the beginning of a relationship with an extraordinary woman who may just be the long-sought Her.

A layered narrative of time and place, emotion and insight, sexuality and spiritual quest, The Hilliker Curse is a brilliant, soul-baring revelation of self.It is unlike any memoir you have ever read. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (5)

3-0 out of 5 stars A Second Whack At A Memoir
At least ten years ago crime writer/novelist James Ellroy wrote MY DARK PLACES. It was a rather intriguing look at his mother's unsolved murder and the ripples that resonated throughout his life because of that loss. It covered his life which had fallen apart, a presumed redemption of sorts through writing, and the burning desire to find his mother's murderer. At that time it appeared that his life had finally turned around. As I recall, Ellroy was married for a second time and had relocated from Los Angeles (the city that made him) and was living in bucolic splendor in Kansas. Fast forward to now. Ellroy is divorced, in a new relationship that is presumably a keeper, and not in Kansas anymore.
THE HILLIKER CURSE revisits his life and peripherally skirts around his mother's murder again to reveal his abysmal track record with women, his unending search for 'her'(the ultimate muse/right woman), and his transition from career thief and druggie/drunk to well-known author.
My major problem with this book is the way it is written. Ellroy projects this
street hip personna through a first person account of his life which is peppered (or saturated) with Ellroy-isms. I'm going to describe his style as Sam Spade meets film noir. I found it interesting, but I suspect most readers except die-hard fans might find this an exercise in creative writing that is just plain irritating and distracting.
The other negative is that it becomes rapidly apparent that the narrative is going to drone on miserably re: Ellroy's problem with healthy relationships/personal intimacy. It seems sort of strange to devote an entire book to his problems with women that apparently stemmed from his lousy relationship with his mother. The really sad aspect to all of this is that in the end I really wasn't all that certain Ellroy had truly evolved and kicked this 'curse'. I suspect that reading Freud might be more informative.
The end shot is that while this book was somewhat interesting to me, I'm not sure it would be that interesting to most readers.

5-0 out of 5 stars Angst, Ecstasy and the Creative Process
This is the second memoir from James Ellroy and it is different from My Dark Places.That book is more historical and journalistic.The Hilliker Curse is, for lack of a better word, more spiritual.Where My Dark Places spoke of Ellroy's search (with the help of Bill Stoner) for his mother's killer, The Hilliker Curse speaks of Ellroy's search for the love of women.The first book was an investigation; this book is a quest.One is not better than the other (despite what Ellroy might say); they are simply different.

Ellroy's angry love relationship with his mother (who struck him when he elected to live with his father) is deep, troubled and obsessive.It displaces into his search for the love of other women and into the writing of novels to win their hearts and attention.Now that he has found peace, with his new relationship, he is able to see the arc of his life, the arc of his work and the arc of the psychosexual dimensions of his identity with greater clarity.In The Hilliker Curse he charts them.

The writing is urgent, honest and impassioned.He gives us names and he gives us details.He exposes the raw nerves, the personal pathologies and the rhythms of his life.The book is one of the very few examples of confessional, high-romantic but (as he puts it) tory autobiography.

The book is an essential one for Ellroy fans and scholars.It illuminates the dark places but also floods them with unexpected light.It is an exceptionally good read, for those with a taste for fevered autobiography.Most important, it speaks to something which is not in high favor these days, but should be--the nature of the creative process.Ellroy is at his most compelling and most obsessive when he writes.Using 300- and 400-page outlines he builds large and imposing narratives consisting of armies of characters whose actions converge on a tiny number of extremely important incidents.He is charting America by looking into its dark corners and he gets to those dark corners by way of his own dark places.

We hear enough about his mother to sketch in the background, very little about his first marriage, a great deal about his marriage to Helen Knode, a lot about his mismatched relationship with a Bay Area professor named Joan (whose transmuted analogue, Joan Klein, figures prominently in Blood's A Rover) and we learn more than I would have expected about his new relationship, with Erika Schickel, to whom the book is dedicated.

I suggest that diehard fans and scholars check out his hour-long interview with Erika that is available on the internet.She tries to deflect attention from their relationship and focus on his writing.At one point she refers to his relationship with Joan as his personal Bay of Pigs.He responds that if that was the case then his relationship with Erika was his personal fall of the Berlin wall.In that moment he was inadvertently summarizing it all: Ellroy as frightened, troubled boy, novelistic colossus, chronicler of America and desperate lover of women--all formed into a single, seamless, strange but fascinating whole.

Highly recommended.

3-0 out of 5 stars Psychological Study of Sorts
This is another attempt by the author to exorcise the demons left by the tragic strangulation murder of his own mother in 1958 when he was only ten years of age.It is quite understandable how such a tragic occurrence could afflict a young mind, but it still remains a personalized account and we can't generalize how each of us individually would handle such an occurrence, nor should we hope to ever find out.In his earlier work My Dark Places he unsuccessfully attempted with aid of a retired police detective to solve his mother's murder.The title of this book derives from the fact that his mother's maiden name was HILLIKER.This book was an attempt to show how he tried to cure himself through various schemes as drug and alcohol abuse, paraphilias not limited to S & M,plus numerous visits to prostitutes and other one-night stands, in addition to writing books about his problem.

I think the book is okay, but certainly not up to his earlier works as L.A. Confidential or The Black Dahlia and which were later turned into movies. I simply liked his earlier works better, but for others who have not read them or who might be interested in a personalized account of clinical depression among other problems this just might be your cup of tea. It's not a literary masterpiece, but you still might like it, especially if you are a Ellroy aficionado.

2-0 out of 5 stars Autobiography in Staccato
Written in short staccato sentences that seem to be emanating from the cigarette laden lips of the late Humphrey Bogart.Essentially, a loosely structured stream-of-consciousness account of the author's early obsessions, neuroses, perversions, etc.A self- admitted anti-Semite in his youth, the author punctuates his narrarive with funny Yiddish jargon: "shtick", "schlong," "tsuris", "gelt", etc.All-in-all, more of interest to Ellroy aficionados and amateur psychologsts--as opposed to more mainstream kinds of readers.

2-0 out of 5 stars Ellroy's autobiographical stuff rarely rises to the level of his early storytelling
Ellroy's autobiographical stuff rarely rises to the level of his early storytelling, much less to the heights of his L.A. Quartet.

This is a book made for checking out of a local library ten years after it's release. ... Read more

2. Blood's A Rover (Vintage)
by James Ellroy
Paperback: 656 Pages (2010-08-24)
list price: US$15.95 -- used & new: US$9.64
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0375727418
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
America's master of noir delivers his masterpiece, a rip-roaring, devilishly wild ride through the bloody end of the 1960's. It's dark baby, and hot hot hot.
Martin Luther King assassinated. Robert Kennedy assassinated. Los Angeles, 1968. Conspiracies theories are taking hold. On the horizon looms the Democratic Convention in Chicago and constant gun fire peppers south L.A. Violence, greed, and grime, are replacing free-love and everybody from Howard Hughes, Richard Nixon and J. Edgar Hoover to the right-wing assassins and left-wing revolutionaries are getting dirty. At the center of it all is a triumvirate: the president’s strong-arm goon, an ex-cop and heroine runner, and a private eye whose quarry is so dangerous she could set off the whole powder keg. With his trademark deadly staccato prose, James Ellroy holds nothing back in this wild, startling and much anticipated conclusion to his Underworld USA trilogy.
 Amazon.com Review
Amazon Best of the Month, September 2009: James Ellroy's L.A. Quartet novels chronicled a cynic's take on Los Angeles cops and robbers, carving a dark and creepy nook for the author in the world of crime fiction. With Blood's a Rover, Ellroy completes his Underworld USA trilogy, an epic reinvention of American history, politics, and corruption. This book comes out firing: Ellroy's hipster prose--inimitable for its high style and spectacular energy--snaps and surges through more than 600 pages like black electricity, shocking the gentle reader from page one. Opening with a heist scene rendered as coldly violent as anything from Sam Peckinpah's most sociopathic fantasies, the story hurls itself across an improbable crazy quilt plot, including Howard Hughes's Vegas power-play, political abuses and machinations in Hoover's FBI, and the mob's ubiquitous shadow, darkening everything from JFK's assassination to Nixon's 1968 Presidential campaign. Another audacious effort from a one-of-a-kind talent, Blood's a Rover is thrilling and exhausting, a gloriously guilty pleasure.--Jon Foro ... Read more

Customer Reviews (88)

5-0 out of 5 stars It meanders. It goes off on tangents. But ultimately it totally rocks.
Since I received this book through Amazon Vine, I was happy to see Ellroy's hyperbolic back cover note to booksellers promising them that this is a book of "macho-mained magnificence" and an atom bomb and it will make both Ellroy and the booksellers "a cash-cascading and profit-pronging boos in a bum marketplace!!!" complete with those exclamation marks. Since I promised that BADASS HORROR would burn holes in your couch, I can appreciate it.

Thankfully, the interior doesn't disappoint. Much like L.A. Confidential (Two-Disc Special Edition), this is a book full of conspiracies, conspiracies within conspiracies, sudden and surprising murders, corruption and power plays all tied together by a robbery at the beginning that resonates throughout - sometimes in the background but always prevalent. You even have the two enemies getting together to knock heads together. However, instead of a James Cromwell villain controlling everything (I hope you forgive me for admitting that I saw the movie and haven't read the book) this is full of men and women trying to control the world of the late 1960s and early 1970s but ultimately they are revealed as being just as vulnerable to the time as everyone else. Using historical figures like Richard Nixon, Howard Hughes and J. Edgar Hoover only underlines this theme. In their own way, these three were all master manipulators and operators and it might be cheesy to say that they were brought down by hubris (in the case of the last two it was more a case of mental illness and simple time) and their stories echo in the rest of the characters including Wayne Tedrow and Dwigh Holly - two former KKK men who are directly involved in the conspiracies to kill RFK and Martin Luther King Jr. (Ellroy loves his conspiracy theories) who stumble (badly) towards some form of redemption and repentence.

This is a book full of powerful characters full of hubris and spit and vinegar trying to control everything and discovering to their peril that they are just as much victims of the time as everyone. Even Joan Klein who is in the most control is not able to control everything. She's a powerful protagonist and Ellroy has a right to crow about how he wrote her well but her inability to control everyone's destiny is what makes her so great.

This was my first Ellroy book and it definitely won't be my last.

5-0 out of 5 stars No Let Up from A Master
What an incredible writer. The COINTELPRO plotline is rather topical. Cass Sunsteins COGINFILPRO of the 911 Truth movement (or anyone else that thinks for themselves for that matter) is completely analogous to the FBI in the period contained in this book ( Did it ever stop?). Perhaps you may like to read Cognitive Infiltration by David Ray Griffin as well, just to update/horrify yourself about what is happening in the present. Cognitive Infiltration: An Obama Appointee's Plan to Undermine the 9/11 Conspiracy Theory

5-0 out of 5 stars Unique
It was my good fortune to have this be the first James Ellroy book I ever read. The story is a good, wacky conspiracy tale, but let's face it - it's the writing style that captivates. It took a while to get into the rhythm, I've never come across anything like this before, but once I got into the flow it was an exceptional journey. After this book, I started reading earlier Ellroy efforts and they just don't measure up. They are rough drafts compared to Blood's A Rover.

4-0 out of 5 stars not perfect, but very, very good
I haven't read the first two books in Ellroy's Underworld USA trilogy -- in fact, I haven't read any of his books at all -- so I can't say how BLOOD'S A ROVER compares to those works or fits into the trilogy or Ellroy's oeuvre, but wow, have I really been missing out on a great writer. Ellroy's crafting of sentences alone would be impressive:lean, concise, rapid-fire.But he uses that craft in the service of a story populated by strangely compelling characters, at once off-key and believable, all while tapping into the inner recesses of American life, into the violence and paranoia that lurk beneath our society and politics.Like Tom Wolfe, I sense the Ellroy is unfairly dismissed by many of the arbiters of literary taste in the US.And if Wolfe is the chronicler (but not only) of the vibrant surface of American life -- of its obsession with status, for example -- then Ellroy is the chronicler (again, but not only) of the "little lower layer."I look forward to digging deeper into his books.

5-0 out of 5 stars Ellroy Is Superb
This is another brilliant novel by one of America's finest writers. Ellroy might be slightly under-rated, but to not appreciate his remarkable narrative power is to deprive oneself of a valuable reading experience.

As a journalist, I especially appreciate Ellroy. Major stories in this country -- the Timothy McVey case, say, or the assassination of Martin Luther King -- invariable have a complicated subtext that's not conveyed in routine newspaper or television reporting. Ellroy masterfully defines and probes the untold and often sinister aspects of significant events that are usually dealt with only on the surface.

I hope Ellroy can sustain his remarkable writing life for many more years and many more illuminating novels. ... Read more

3. My Dark Places
by James Ellroy
Paperback: 427 Pages (1997-08-19)
list price: US$15.95 -- used & new: US$5.96
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0679762051
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
"Astonishing . . . original, daring, brilliant."
--Philadelphia Inquirer

In 1958 Jean Ellroy was murdered, her body dumped on a roadway in a seedy L.A. suburb.Her killer was never found, and the police dismissed her as a casualty of a cheap Saturday night. James Ellroy was ten when his mother died, and he spent the next thirty-six years running from her ghost and attempting to exorcize it through crime fiction. In 1994, Ellroy quit running.He went back to L.A., to find out the truth about his mother--and himself.

In My Dark Places, our most uncompromising crime writer tells what happened when he teamed up with a brilliant homicide cop to investigate a murder that everyone else had forgotten--and reclaim the mother he had despised, desired, but never dared to love. What ensues is a epic of loss, fixation, and redemption, a memoir that is also a history of the American way of violence.

"Ellroy is more powerful than ever."
--The NationAmazon.com Review
James Ellroy's trademark is his language: it is sometimescaustically funny and always brazen. When he's hitting on all cylinders,as he is in My Dark Places, his style makes punchy rhythms out of shortsentences using lingo such as "scoot" (dollar), "trim" (sex), and "brace"(to interrogate). But the premise for My Dark Places is whatmakes it especially compelling: Ellroy goes back to his own childhood to investigatethe central mystery behind his obsession with violence againstwomen--the death of his mother when he was 10 years old. It's hard toimagine a more psychologically treacherous, more self-exposing way inwhich to write about true crime. The New York Times calls it a"strenuously involving book.... Early on, Mr. Ellroy makes a promiseto his dead mother that seems maudlin at first: 'I want to give youbreath.' But he's done just that and--on occasion--taken ours away." ... Read more

Customer Reviews (83)

5-0 out of 5 stars Living With the Dead
Like all great crime novels, Ellroy's memoir starts with a compelling murder. Kids playing baseball would find her body in some ivy in El Monte, California. From a disheveled dress and an exposed upper chest, to ligatures constricted with such force they were only three inches in diameter, Ellroy describes the crime scene and those opening weeks of the investigation with his familiar staccato style. There is more here than meets the eye, however. We begin to see a picture of a 10 year old boy whose entire life has been ruled by a crime; not just any crime, but the brutal murder of that pretty redheaded woman in the ivy. Her name was Jean Ellroy. That boy is author James Ellroy.

She got a divorce and started over in El Monte with her son. She tried to balance the two worlds of her drinking and promiscuity with her work as a nurse and the solid life she was trying to give her son. Those two worlds would merge on a King's Row curb. This memoir is a dance of reconcilliation for Ellroy, and an attempt to separate her death from her life, and make her ghost come alive as a real person. Brutal and unflinching in its honesty, this memoir is not for the weak. It is a true crime story that reads like a police procedural. The crimes are real. The people are messed up. The names have not been changed beacause there are no innocents.

Once we realize this is Ellroy's love letter to his slain mother, we can't put it down. Ellroy describes in detail and with brutal candor the bitterness between his mother and father and the war fought for his loyalty. Once she was dead, he would both obsess over, and run from her murder his entire life. He spouted propoganda and hate just to get attention. The parenting skills of his father, which can best be described as permissive neglect, left him with too much freedom and far too much time. It was this time he would use for elaborate fantasies about his mother. He would form an obsession with the Betty Short-Black Dahlia murder. In every fantasy, Ellroy would somehow save the women and they would be grateful. He could not save his mother. He was still running leading to years of drug and alcohol abuse, finally escalating into voyeurism and crime. The temporary highs were an escape that would come to a screaching halt when his mind had had enough, and decided to take a timeout. When Ellroy got his mind working again, he found work as a golf caddy and began writing crime novels. After some success, he finally decided to face his mother's ghost by solving her murder. Unbelievably, this memoir has just begun.

Detective Bill Stoner was living with dead women as well, and Ellroy brings them all to life for the reader as he takes us into the world of cops and crime. Cops like Stoner knew about obsession. Ellroy explains that almost all homicide cops love the old film "Laura." Because they too have all fallen in love with dead girls, just like Dana Andrews does in this cinematic masterpiece. Stoner was leaving the job after 32 years, the last 12 in homicide. Stoner was a well known and respected cop willing to help Ellroy attempt to to find closure. Stoner was the cop responsible for solving the famous Cotton Club murder. He understood Ellroy. He too was living with dead girls. Ellroy pays homage to the ghosts of Stoner's women along the way, making sure you will always remember names like Bunny Krauch and Susan Hamway. You will remember a baby murdered by proxy. Perhaps foremost, you will remember a young and innocent Tracy Lea Stewart. She would be picked up by Robbie Beckett and brought to Daddy Beckett like a lamb to the slaughter. She would be raped and murdered. Convictions would not equal closure.

The reader spends over a year with Stoner and Ellroy as they probe the memories of old cops and witnesses and chase down leads. They would go public in GQ Magazine and on TV with Unsolved Mysteries. Though this memoir is brutal and sad, it is also tense and exciting, and at times, very funny. I can not tell you the ending, or even if there is one. You have to read this for yourself. What I have described of this brilliant book is only the tip of the iceberg. You will never forget this after reading it. Unfortunately, you will never forget a lot of things...

4-0 out of 5 stars Crime story - Ellroy's personal experience
Ellroy is no doubt a gifted writer, and this book travels part of the circuitous route that he took in claiming this gift.I chose this book based on the fascinating premise of a talented crime writer investigating the long unsolved murder case of his own mother - a murder that took place when the author was only ten years old.The book begins with a competent reconstruction of the sequence of events after the murder.Some surprising twists in the story take place when we see the impact of this murder on the author's life afterward.Many crime stories are woven into the narrative, and one feels sadness for the innocent victims.The perpetrators identified in the story are all clearly sociopaths - folks that operate on a different wavelength than your common petty thief and substance abuser.In the end, the author's investigation does not solve the mystery of who killed his mother.Too many years had likely passed since the crime, and it appears that the sociopath who had done the killing apparently had made a short, fleeting career of his murderous exploits leaving just one or two victims in his wake.Some bonuses included in the book are the rich descriptions of everyday life in the 1940's and 50's, particularly, but not limited, to the Los Angeles area.

4-0 out of 5 stars My Dark Places reviewed
A couple guys told me I must read My Dark Places after I read L.A. Confidential. I waited. Then I picked up a book by Steve Hodel called Black Dahlia Avenger which was truly fantastic. A small part of the story is Hodel's belief in who killed Ellroy's mother in the 50s, which is one of Ellroy's dark places (what can I say? I cannot write like those two), and Ellroy believes or believed that Hodel truly found the Dahlia's murderer, so My Dark Places followed. I never would have thought the true story of these murders, if they are true, would be so graphic, and so my heart went out to Ellroy in this book, esp. in his descriptions of his mother (and may both authors please forgive me for my college English).

5-0 out of 5 stars couldnt put it down
my first ellroy book, i have seen his movies and love them. The story was great , i love true crime and i love Los Angeles so the book was a great combo of both for me. Also i am a police officer and have an interest in cold cases. The story of ellroys life and what made him the man he is today is a must read. I was introduced to him by the article about his mother in GQ and im glad i bought the book. One of my favorite books of all time.

3-0 out of 5 stars here and there
This book is readable,though not quite up to other reviews that led me to buy it...it is finally an obsessive, inconclusive whodunit, with interesting rooted-in-LA detail but I am less interested in J.E./s dissolute boyhood than he thinks I am. ... Read more

4. Clandestine
by James Ellroy
Paperback: 336 Pages (1999-02-01)
list price: US$13.95 -- used & new: US$4.93
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0380805294
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
Fred Underhill is a young cop on the rise in Los Angeles in the early 1950's -- a town blinded to its own grime by Hollywood glitter; a society nourished by newspaper lies that wants its heroes all-American and squeaky clean.A chance to lead on a possible serial killing is all it takes to fuel Underhill's reckless ambition - and it propels him into a dangerous alliance with certain mad and unstable elements of the law enforcement hierarchy.When the case implodes with disastrous consequences, it is Fred Underhill who takes the fall.His life is in ruins, his promising future suddenly a dream of the past.And his good and pure love for a crusading woman lawyer has been corrupted and may not survive.But even without the authority of a badge, Fred Underhill knows that his only hope for redemption lies in following the investigation to its grim conclusion.And the Hell to which he has been consigned for his sins is the perfect place to hunt for a killer who hungers but has no soul. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (22)

3-0 out of 5 stars The Naive Cynicism of James Ellroy
When I first read James Ellroy's writing in "The Big Nowhere" I was entranced by his monosyllabic staccato voice, opening and unleashing the heart's total darkness.The world found in "The Big Nowhere" was hopelessly cynical, and justice happened when one cynicism fought another.Ellroy oozed with talent in "The Big Nowhere," and what was truly amazing was the same exuberant talent could be found in the same intense darkness in "L.A. Confidential", "White Jazz", and "American Tabloid."Ellroy was brilliant but more astonishingly he was, like John Le Carre, consistently brilliant.Even more so than Le Carre, Ellroy's understanding of the human condition was prophetic.

So given James Ellroy's legacy it's hard to imagine that there was once a time when he was just as naive and as hopeful as any one of us.In his second novel Ellroy is in the final days of the naive cynicism of his dark youth.

Frederick Underhill, the protagonist of "Clandestine", is a young, naive, and ambitious patrolman in 1951 Los Angeles, just as James Ellroy is a young, naive, and ambitious writer.When Underhill discovers a one-night stand strangled to death he embarks on quest to seek the killer that is supposed to build his career but which insteads destroy it.Having lost his career, his ambition, and his wife he seeks out the truth and redemption.Most of the book is standard detective fiction before the ending reveals Ellroy's twisting, perverting, darkening mind.

"Clandestine" is the work of a young, immature writer.Ellroy's psychological penetration into darkness is far from complete, and his writing while competent lacks his trademark dark, overwhelming intensity.It is a lesser Ellroy work, and for new readers to Ellroy an exciting, startling place to start is "American Tabloid."

4-0 out of 5 stars Murder and revenge he wrote
Fred Underhill is a Los Angeles policeman, who has a one night fling with a Maggie Cadwallader who later winds up murdered.The police department becomes involved in the case's investigation.For some very personal reasons, Fred takes an immediate interest in this case.Fred is well educated, bright, and honest, unlike Police Lieutenant Dudley Smith, who is scheming, corrupt and dishonest.One might remember Smith from the wonderful film noir, "L.A. Confidential" as well as from some other James Ellroy novels.It is believed that Maggie is another victim of a serial murderer out and about in L.A. Underhill has gained a glowing reputation for doing away with two crooks responsible for the death of Wacky Walker, Fred's decent and reliable patrol partner.Chief Smith fingers Eddie Engels, a supposedly gay, boozing, bookie as the serial killer, and after having done some cursory investigation, as well as having Engels beaten up and pratically tortured, Engels confesses to Maggie's murder.This case is resolved so badly that Fred is forced to resign from the police department.This is a particular shame, because Fred Underhill seemed destined for a detective's shield.

Tied into Maggie's murder, is the strangling murder of Marcella DeVries Harris, a fairly attractive red haired nurse, with a reputation as a slut, who has repeatedly cuckolded her husband, Doc Harris.Doc and Marcella have a teenaged son, Michael, who is a gangly and friendless young man, but sweet nevertheless.Underhill, pretending to be an insurance investigator, proceeds to investigate the nurse's murder on his own.While working on the Marcella murder case, Fred becomes acquainted with another family, in which rivelry with yet another family, and death, greed, drugs and drug addiction all play not unimportant parts.One of real plusses of _Clandestine_ is not only its well-written and progressively intense style, but unlike many other whodunit crime novels, we get to know many of its characters well and really care about them.Even the supposed villains evoke sympathy.

3-0 out of 5 stars Good prose style, but I found it too easy to put down.
Ellroy has been a major blank spot in my crime noir reading. I expected that I would like his work quite a bit. I was surprised to find that I had trouble with the book.

The style is nice, so that's a good thing. I found that I struggled through the plot, somehow. I found myself putting the book down with no real interest in picking it up again. I was eventually glad when I finished, but it for sure wasn't an instant click. I didn't quite buy the romance and its arc, and since that is a lot of what holds the book together I believe that hurt my reading experience.

According to the reviews I have read, Clandestine isn't considered one of Ellroy's stronger books. I did like the style, so I'm not giving up. Based on my experience, I wouldn't recommend it as a good first Ellroy.

5-0 out of 5 stars Terrific tough book!
This is the first Ellroy book I've ever read.After reading other reviews that say he just gets better, I can't wait to pick up some others.
Unlike some other readers, I loved the back story of the murdered women.Their stories brought everything together for me & during the last 75 pages I just couldn't put it down.

5-0 out of 5 stars Couldn't put it down!
This is the first hard-boiled/noir book that I have ever read, and it was really wonderful! The dialouge is rich and snappy, and the characters are memorable. This novel peaked my interest in the noir genre of films and books again. ... Read more

5. Destination: Morgue!: L.A. Tales
by James Ellroy
Paperback: 400 Pages (2004-09-28)
list price: US$14.95 -- used & new: US$3.20
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1400032873
Average Customer Review: 2.5 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
Dig. The Demon Dog gets down with a new book of scenes from America’s capital of kink: Los Angeles. Fourteen pieces, some fiction, some nonfiction, all true enough to be admissible as state’s evidence, and half of it in print for the first time. And every one of them bearing the James Ellroy brand of mayhem, machismo, and hollow-nose prose.

Here are Mexican featherweights and unsolved-murder vics, crooked cops and a very clean D.A. Here is a profile of Hollywood’s latest celebrity perp-walker, Robert Blake, and three new novellas featuring a demented detective with an obsession with a Hollywood actress.And, oh yes, just maybe the last appearance of Hush-Hush sleaze-monger Danny Getchell. Here’s Ellroy himself, shining a 500-watt Mag light into all the dark places of his life and imagination. Destination: Morgue! puts the reader’s attention in a hammerlock and refuses to let go.
Praise for James Ellroy: ... Read more

Customer Reviews (19)

1-0 out of 5 stars Stop Him Before He Writes Again!
There was once a writer named James Ellroy who wrote with style and power, and then something happened ...maybe he's written out, or on medication, but oh my God, this last piece of dreck was enough to send me reeling!What happened to this guy?!"Destination Morgue" is a mindless, crazed rant that offers up nothing in the way of character or story, or anything remotely worth the time it took to turn the pages.He's taking a seat right alongside Woody Allen in the pantheon of "Artist's Who Have Lost Their Ju-Ju."This book flat out sucks!I want my money back, James!
Get well, soon.Please.

1-0 out of 5 stars the first book I've ever tossed aside unfinished...

As stated multiple times in other reviews, it's simply unreadable.

I wanted to like it, I really did.I tried.

The incessant and hugely annoying alliteration sounds like my 7-year old nephew trying to be cute and interesting.

Using "riffed" and "vibed" 200 times per page is... sadly laughable.

None of which equals "gritty" or "noir", it just equals "weak".

This might be the first book I throw into a recycle bin.

3-0 out of 5 stars "He bit, he licked, he tongued himself tumescent."
I really love James Ellroy's writing and subject matter. He has gotten me interested in old Hollywood movie stars, gangsters and unsolved murders. He has made his obsessions mine, but as several other reviewers have pointed out, his arching overuse of alliteration has gone way beyond self parody at this point. He is like someone making of fun of James Ellroy except that he is James Ellroy. My favorite piece here is the bit on Robert Blake's murder case. For once he is dealing with a b-list celebrity who is alive and a case that was current at the time. I like his childhood stories, although this cat was way more messed up than I could ever have imagined. I actually even like the overkill of alliteration because I think it is hilarious ,although it is not very good writing and he is capable of much better. To give you an example, in "Jungletown Jihad", his hero settles down to sleep with some friendly pit bulls in a shelter-"I shot to the shelter. Pit bulls pounced.A dog daisy chain developed.Donny De Freeze diminuendoed and disappeared. I setlled in for an eight-dog night." The whole thing is written that way. You can choose to be annoyed or amused. I chose the latter but I hope he breaks this trend or it will be very damaging to his reputation as a great writer.

5-0 out of 5 stars Demon Dog You'veDone it Again..
I'm an Ellroy fan of long standing and was thoroughly entertained by Destination Morgue. Never shy about four letter words, or scenes that might make a lesser writer cringe, James Ellroy is that rare one-of-a-kind talent that outshines all others in his chosen genre. This book may not be for everyone. But those who revel in hardcore writing that doesn't pull punches will love it.

3-0 out of 5 stars a mind boggle of literary languge

6. American Tabloid: A Novel
by James Ellroy
Paperback: 592 Pages (2001-04-24)
list price: US$16.00 -- used & new: US$7.25
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 037572737X
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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We are behind, and below, the scenes of JFK's presidential election, the Bay of Pigs, the assassination--in the underworld that connects Miami, Los Angeles, Chicago, D.C. . . .

Where the CIA, the Mob, J. Edgar Hoover, Howard Hughes, Jimmy Hoffa, Cuban political exiles, and various loose cannons conspire in a covert anarchy . . .

Where the right drugs, the right amount of cash, the right murder, buys a moment of a man's loyalty . . .

Where three renegade law-enforcement officers--a former L.A. cop and two FBI agents--are shaping events with the virulence of their greed and hatred, riding full-blast shotgun into history. . . .

James Ellroy's trademark nothing-spared rendering of reality, blistering language, and relentless narrative pace are here in electrifying abundance, put to work in a novel as shocking and daring as anything he's written:a secret history that zeroes in on a time still shrouded in secrets and blows it wide open. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (128)

5-0 out of 5 stars Gut wrenching reading
This novel about secret governmental departments and their unexpected activities is superbly written and rivets the reader to each page.Packed with action and nostalgia over history long past, it strikes chord after chord, as familiar events are given a violent twist by this story telling genius.

Other reviews detail the characters and style; I can only add that I was astounded by the brilliance in which this novel was researched, written, and organized.

In terms of crime drama, its tops, and a must read!

5-0 out of 5 stars Revealing.
A picture of the dark sides of the U.S., especially the circumstances around the Kennedy ascension . Everything is there, presented in a very convincing manner. But isn't Ellroy rewriting history under the "fiction" alibi??? Fascinating for a foreigner like me !

5-0 out of 5 stars The Beethoven of noir litterature - and this one would be his 9th symphony.
Ellroy self-described as the Beethoven of noir litterature.
Read this and you'll probably agree.
This is epic, legendary, noirest of noir, dostoievskian, politic, rude, faaaaaaaaast and baaaaaaaad, violentissimo, redefines the genre, and on and on.
As novels go, if I had a top 10, this would be in it, it dissects (the dark side) of the 60s, the foundation of the world we're living in today and, past the conspiracy issues which can be debated, is a goodway to start looking at our complex era with a different eye.

5-0 out of 5 stars READ MY REVIEW
There aren't words to describe this novel.Wait there are words from other reviewers and the characters in this work of fiction that seems so real.Blistering, John F. Kennedy, paranoid, Sam Giancana, brilliant, Robert Kennedy, masterpiece, Fidel Castro, unmatched, Joe Kennedy, distrubing, Howard Hughes, brutally sad, Johnny Rosselli, excellent, Jack Ruby, unabridged ugliness, Frank Sinatra, truth, Santo Trafficante, first rate, Jimmy Hoffa, truth, J. Edgar Hoover, amazing, Ava Gardner, vastly entertaining,Carlo Marcello, dark, awesome, dark....this novel is a mind blowing.I have never read anything like it.The staccato method of Ellroy is mesmerizing.I can not recommend this book enough!! READ IT.

5-0 out of 5 stars This ain't really a novel: it's just the facts, ma'am, plus some invented dialogue
American Tabloid is not only the best noir I've read since Hammett, Cain and Chandler, it's one of the most accurate representations of the JFK hit put together on this grand a scale.

So much of the book is pure fact, taken from statements from many of these real-life characters, and government files and interviews. But Ellroy knows that a lot of people would call him a "conspiracy nut" for laying out the ugly truth as honestly as a man as bright as he clearly could...so he called it a novel. This gives the leeway to get inside some of these guy's heads, which in fact makes the facts even more obvious and believable by the end.

I don't love everything in here--most but not all of the dialogue rings true--yet most of it is truly hard-boiled in the best and most authentic way. Ellroy presents these people as people, not historical myths, and for the most part they feel very true to life, from Hoover to the gangsters to the Kennedys (not that they weren't gangsters in their own way; father Joe made all his cash as a bootlegger/gangster in various nasty businesses, a fact rarely mentioned in family histories but a truth very germane to all that has happened to his family, including the hits on JFK, RFK, and JFK Jr, and the Chappaquiddick set-up of Teddy).

Much of this book gibes with the infamous Gemstone Files, a classic 70s recounting of the hit and subsequent events that very plausibly explains our real reasons for being in Vietnam, CIA drug running, why and how the Mob got so big so fast, Cuba and Castro and the mob's casinos, why Jackie married Onassis, Watergate and much more (find it online and prepare to be amazed). It's "funny" and yet brutally sad that so many instantly dismiss the well-researched facts here as fiction; most every major incident in this book is taken from official police/FBI files, including the Hoffa hits, etc. But let's face it: very few Americans want to admit how criminal and truly gangsterish our government, police and military can be, despite endless proof to the contrary for the past century.

Hoffa, Hughes, Hoover...so many evil H's here, with the big H of heroin linking them all. Not to mention ho's. Ellroy has the magic touch and brings them all to life, and with incredibly tight, sinewy prose. The man can write. Understatement, exclamation point.

I think it takes him 15 pages to use his first comma. Now that's lean at its leanest. Most of the commas here are only in the dialogue; when Ellroy is talking, it's all straight discursive blam blam blam. Subject verb object, grim laugh. Very few wasted words in these 600 pages, and almost non-stop entertainment.

For my money this is not only the very best book on the JFK hit, it's one of the most interesting American novels of the 20th century. Few writers have both the guts and the skills to pull off this kind of coup, and Ellroy brings it all home in spades.

Phenomenal in most every way.

American Tabloid should be required reading in every American Lit 101 class. ... Read more

7. The Big Nowhere
by James Ellroy
Paperback: 406 Pages (1998-05-01)
list price: US$14.95 -- used & new: US$3.83
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0446674370
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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From the widely acclaimed author of" L.A. Confidential" comes the absorbing story of three man caught in a massive web of ambition, perversion, and deceit. ""The Big Nowhere" "makes you feel as if you are really in the Hollywood of 1950".--"The Wall Street Journal". ... Read more

Customer Reviews (63)

5-0 out of 5 stars The Big Nowhere
I was very pleased with this purchase and I would buy from this seller again.

5-0 out of 5 stars Compelling crime novel
A complex, brutal tale of murder and politics set against the Red Scare of the early 50's in Los Angeles.Three compromised policemen track a vicious killer while trying to smoke out communists in the film industry at the behest of powerful career minded opportunists.James Ellroy is a master at creating characters who are waist deep in moral corruption, yet keep our sympathy because they cling so desperately to one admirable ideal even while becoming complicit in terrible acts.I was shocked at one characters utterly heartbreaking fate.

4-0 out of 5 stars My first Ellroy
This was my first Ellroy that I had read when I picked him up in 1995, I loved the book then and thought it might have been the greatest crime fiction I had ever read.

Rereading the novel, I am slightly less enamoured by the book, mainly due the seemingly rushed pace of the last 50 pages but it is still a brilliant piece of work and makes anything that the author has written since American Tabloid seem pretty weak.

You get a great feel for the main characters (Danny, Mal and Buzz) and the mental tortures that the three of them endure throughout the book.

Recommended if you have the time to immerse yourself totally in the book, it is not a novel that one can just pick up and put down and hope to pick up again a few days later as the plot is so complex and interwoven.

5-0 out of 5 stars Stark, Brutal, Tender And Powerful...
"Los Angeles, 1950.
Red crosscurrents and a string of brutal killings.
Three men caught up in a massive web of ambition, perversion and deceit.

The characters:
Danny Upshaw - a sheffiff's deputy stuck with a bunch of snuffs that nobody cares about.
Mal Considine - D.A.'s office brass, climbing on the Red scare bandwagon to advance his own career.
Buzz Meeks - bagman, ex goon and pimp for Howard Hughes, a man who fights communism for the money.

All three have purchased tickets to a nightmare worse than their darkest dreams.

"STARK, BRUTAL, TENDER AND POWERFUL...a remarkably vivid portrait of a remarkable time and place." - (Publisher's Source)
[from the back cover of audio cassette case]

4-0 out of 5 stars Complex & Grim - but worth persevering
Early on I never thought I'd be able to slog my way through this book. Why? One, there seemed to be too many characters to keep track of. The book follows the lives of three men in detail: a cop, a district attorney's investigator and a bagman for Howard Hughes. This triples the plot lines and numbers of supporting characters. Two, the hard-boiled prose, meant to evoke the vocabulary of those living on the shady side in 1950s LA, is blunt. It's a style that takes a lot of getting used to - more like reading a newspaper article than a work of fiction. Three, the communist witch hunts in Hollywood, one of the subplots, isn't the most interesting topic in the 2000s.

But wow! When the three main characters' paths converge, things really start to fizz. Throw in a serial killer, mutilations, cannibalism, incest, homosexuality, violence, lots of double-crossing and flawed men, it becomes one cracking read that's not for the faint hearted. I felt compelled to read the last 200 pages in one sitting. Full marks to James Ellroy on the intricate plotting of this grim tale. It begs another read just so you can appreciate the artfulness with which the story has been constructed. ... Read more

8. Brown's Requiem
by James Ellroy
Paperback: 256 Pages (1998-10-01)
list price: US$13.99 -- used & new: US$3.44
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0380731770
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Fritz Brown's L.A.--and his life--are masses of contradictions, like stirring chorales sung for the dead. A less-than-spotless former cop with a drinking problem--a private eye-cum-repo man with a taste for great music--he has been known to wallow in the grime beneath the Hollywood glitter. But Fritz Brown's life is about to change, thanks to the appearance of a racist psycho who flashes too much cash for a golf caddie and who walked away clean from a multiple murder rap. Reopening this cas could be Fritz's redemption; his welcome back to a moral world and his path to a pure and perfect love. But to get there, he must make it through a grim, lightless place where evil has no national borders; where lies beget lies and death begets death; where there's little tolerance for Bach or Beethoven and deadly arson is a lesser mortal sin; and where a p.i.'s unhealthy interest in the past can turn beautiful music into funeral dirge.Amazon.com Review
Before he began to remap the geography of the crime novel and venture out into the darkest noir night of them all with L.A. Confidential, The Black Dahlia, White Jazz, and American Tabloid, JamesEllroy started his career with this powerful but basically straightforwardbook about Los Angeles private eye Fritz Brown. At first glance, the storyof an investigation into a crooked golf tournament that opens up toinclude arson and murder could be just another work by any one of thedozens of good writers who have used Southern California as a metaphor forthe decline and fall of civilization. But behind the terse prose, astutereaders will soon begin to hear something else--the increasingly loudclamor of a cry of pain that will eventually become the barely manageablemadness of Ellroy's later books. --Dick Adler ... Read more

Customer Reviews (19)

5-0 out of 5 stars One of Elroy's Best
Hits like a freight train with his earlier "bang bang" style that still moves well before his more recent scratchy, staccato style that's much more difficult. Think of this as right on the edge stopping just short of a work like Bukowski's hard boiled "Pulp" ... absolutely one of the very best hard boiled detective stories.

4-0 out of 5 stars Excellent First Novel
I want to start off by saying that I will not recap the book, it isn't my style, I am not good at it, and I think that is can give too much away for someone who has not read the book yet.Also, I am sure others have and why do it again?
What I will tell you is my impression and the tone of the book.This book, like all of Ellroy's books the atmosphere practically jumps off the page.Without being wordy like some authors he manages to set the scene, the emotion and the feel in just a few sentences.This book is dark, it is fiery, but more than that is shockingly emotional.It isn't overt, and it takes a second read to really feel it, but there is a subtext to the characters that most will lose in the action and the Ellroyisms.There is good action, there is snappy dialogue and there are a few twists.

I will say this as the only negative.For some reason Ellroy telegraphs the ending, and that was bothersome.I didn't mind too much because to read Ellroy is to appreciate the road not the destination.Read this book, it is worth the time.

3-0 out of 5 stars good, but not great, Ellroy
Ellroy's first novel is a decent PI novel that is slightly better than the usual entry, revealing little of the genius to come.A good read, no more.

4-0 out of 5 stars Ellroy's first effort
After reading Brown's Requiem I found out that this is Ellroy's first published novel. The plot is a lot more simple than some of his subsequent works. There is not much mystery as from the beginning we are given a fairly good indication of who the bad guys are. The mystery here seems to be more with how Private Investigator Fritz Brown handles the situation he is presented with. Brown is a private investigator in name only as the beginning of the novel finds him working almost exclusively as a repo man for a car dealer who we later find out still thinks that brown has some dirt on him. Brown is a former Los Angeles Police officer who struggles with a drinking problem. He admittedly was a horrible police officer and was forced to resign after the severe beating of a pervert who he was told not to touch as the guy was a snitch and valuable to the police. The entrance of 'Fat Dog' Baker into the mix draws Brown into the seedy underworld of the Loss Angeles golf caddy community. Brown is hired by Fat Dog to investigate the older man with whom his sister is living. As Brown is running all over Southern California, Tijuana Mexico and San Francisco California, he encounters various low life characters, caddies, police officers, relatives of murder victims, would be assasins, beach camping hippies, and various characters with organized crime connections. Brown uncovers evidence of various crimes including arsons, murders, bookmaking operations, and welfare scams. The result is an interesting, and rather straight forward, hard boiled detective story set in early 80's southern california colored by the main characters love of classical music...Hence the title Browns Requiem.
This novel will not be remembered as James Ellroy's best work, but it is a strong first effort and deserves to be read by those who enjoy this genre of fiction.

4-0 out of 5 stars Gooid Book But Edition Needs Editing!!!!
I was captivated by Ellroy's "noir" tone, and I liked "Brown's Requiem." My only complaint about the book involves the publisher's carelessness in editing. I was frequently distracted by typographical and grammatical errors that should have been fixed before the book went to press. Good fiction enables a reader to forget that he is reading and the mistakes in text were a frequent reminder of what went into making the book. The high price tags on even the most humble of paperbacks should more than pay for greater editorial attention. ... Read more

9. The Black Dahlia
by James Ellroy
Mass Market Paperback: 384 Pages (2006-09-01)
list price: US$7.50 -- used & new: US$3.86
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0446618128
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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On January 15, 1947, the torture-ravished body of a beautiful young woman is found in a Los Angeles vacant lot. The victim makes headlines as the Black Dahlia-and so begins the greatest manhunt in California history.Caught up in the investigation are Bucky Bleichert and Lee Blanchard: Warrants Squad cops, friends, and rivals in love with the same woman. But both are obsessed with the Dahlia-driven by dark needs to know everything about her past, to capture her killer, to possess the woman even in death. Their quest will take them on a hellish journey through the underbelly of postwar Hollywood, to the core of the dead girl's twisted life, past the extremes of their own psyches-into a region of total madness. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (163)


5-0 out of 5 stars Black Dahlia
The book was in perfect condition, I was very happy with the seller, I would buy from them again.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great used book - Fast Delivery
This book was in the condition stated by the seller and came quickly by mail.

3-0 out of 5 stars Black Dahlia
To be sure this is a fictional account of the murder so a lot of the facts cannot be as accurate as they might be. It's interesting to read but if you want the "real" story look elsewhere.

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent Thriller
Based on the true story of a young women who was killed in LA in the 1940's, two LAPD detectives search for the women's killer.This is however, no ordinary case and Ellroy keeps the reader on the edge of his or her seat.This is a dark, twisted book, but an outstanding thriller. ... Read more

10. Because the Night
by James Ellroy
Paperback: 288 Pages (2005-10-18)
list price: US$14.00 -- used & new: US$4.67
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1400095298
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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A botched liquor store heist leaves three grisly dead.A hero cop is missing.Nobody could see a pattern in these two stray bits of information–no oneexcept Detective Sergeant Lloyd Hopkins, a brilliant and disturbed L.A. cop with an obsessive desire to protect the innocent. To him they lead to one horrifying conclusion--a killer is on the loose and preying on his city. From the master of L.A. noir comes this beautiful and brutal tale of a cop and a criminal squared off in a life and death struggle. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (10)

3-0 out of 5 stars Early Ellroy is Fine, but the master of crime fiction ages like a fine wine.
This early work of Ellroy's shows the tremendous talent that will blossom in later novels like The Big Nowhere, L.A. Confidential, Black Dahlia, and even his first novel Clandestine shows even more early brillance than what is served up here is Because The Night, a must for Ellroy buffs, but if you are new or just being introduced to James Ellroy start off with Clandestine!

3-0 out of 5 stars Contrived but a lot to appreciate, too
Ellroy is clearly an intellectual writer. His vocabulary, his grasp of psychological profiles and various references to culture all speak to that. His writing is blunt and honest--no touchy-feely here, and that adds impact to the novel. He crafts a solid story, that is, he remembers where he's going and where he's been (might seem obvious but lots of modern writers fail in this area). And in Hopkins he crafts an intriguing protagonist.

The biggest problem here is the contrived plot. It's as if Ellroy tried way too hard when he didn't need to--his authorial skills don't require an over-the-top storyline. At times it goes so far as to feel like it's a script for an Austin Powers movie. Just as bad as the contrivance is the motivations for the antagonist and the flock of idiots who follow him. But the clincher for me was how Hopkins finally sees it all at once, going from not even a suspicion to a complete understanding of all that has happened.

Another issue for me is the decision to use two points-of-view. Of course this is a very common approach by writers and with some, like Stephen King, the antagonist's POV is what draws you in. I would argue that for every novel it enhances, it detracts from several more. There is only one mystery here, and that is, how will the showdown come. We know Hopkins is a serial character and that Ellroy won't kill him off, so the suspense is completely absent. Try to imagine this book if we are only in Hopkins head and it improves instantly. I know it's fun to explore the psyche of serial killers but that should be weighed against keeping the reader titillated.

4-0 out of 5 stars Not the best of Ellroy
If you like crime novels and you haven't read any Ellroy yet (what were you waiting for?)you will probably enjoy this book. If you have already read the LA Quartet or the American tabloid series then you will find this book is not in the same league: the plot is less coherent, a bit naif sometimes. In any case Ellroy will always be far ahead its rivals. And the language is almost as tough as usual.

4-0 out of 5 stars OPUSFOUR
Second novel of the Lloyd Hopkins saga, BECAUSE OF THE NIGHT has been published in 1984. Like in BLOOD ON THE MOON, James Ellroy has adopted in this book two points of view, Lloyd's and John Havilland's, the killer.

Even if the twists of BECAUSE OF THE NIGHT are highly improbable, the novel still stays as intense as it was when I first read it seventeen years ago (gasp!). Ellroy was then one of the first writers to introduce serial killers in his books and was already a master in describing the psychology of his characters.

What strikes me the most now is the evident relation between the mad psychiatrist Havilland and the writer Ellroy. The symptoms of Havilland's madness are very similar to the creative process of the writer. Havilland tries to recreate traumatic scenes of his childhood by directing "live" the poor souls that have fallen in his trap. How not to recognize here the endless efforts of James Ellroy in order to exorcize his mother's murder books after books ?

So if you have the curiosity to go beyond the main argument of BECAUSE OF THE NIGHT, you will soon find out that this book is not only a unique opportunity given to the reader to analyze Lloyd Hopkins thanks John Havilland's psychological skill but is also a terrifying trip through James Ellroy's own obsessions.

A book to rediscover.

2-0 out of 5 stars Disappointing and unbelievable
Sometimes a story is only as good as its villan, and in "Because the Night" the villan is totally unbelievable: A renowned criminal psychiatrist, who is also a psychotic, a talented thief, a drug dealer anda cult leader/manipulator. His motive: the acquisition of data? Please.

Istill enjoyed Hopkins as a character, but the whole premis of the book wasstrained, and there was no opportunity for the main character to reallyshine. Overall, a weak sister to Ellroy's other Hopkins stories, which arein turn pale comparisons to his other works like "LAConfidential" and "Black Dahlia." ... Read more

11. Suicide Hill
by James Ellroy
Paperback: 280 Pages (2006-08-08)
list price: US$14.00 -- used & new: US$7.35
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1400095301
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Detective Sergeant Lloyd Hopkins is the most brilliant homicide detective in the Los Angeles Police Department and one of its most troubled. In his obsessive mission to protect the innocent, there is no line he won’t cross. Estranged from his wife and daughters and on the verge of being drummed out of the department for his transgressions, Hopkins is assigned to investigate a series of bloody bank robberies. As the violence escalates and the case becomes ever more vicious, Hopkins will be forced to cross the line once again to stop a maniac on a murder binge. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars Suicide Hill
Loved this early (1980s) Ellroy novel. A recommend especially if you are an Ellroy fan.

3-0 out of 5 stars suicide hill - best of three
I read this as the last of three in the paperback edition of the Lloyd Hopkins series, and found it the best - unusual, since at that stage, one can normally see through the plot and the characters. The Llloyd Hopkins character in the first two books, particularly the first, seems a little unreal, but in Suicide Hill he has graduated to semi vetera nstatus, and his hard man view on life is more plausible. Also, the plot has some unusual twists and turns, and actually keeps you riveted right to the end - unlike the earlier two, where you can see the end of the plot from several chapters earlier.
As usual, all of the sleazy underside of LA is well exposed, along with its hip language and slick turns of phrase - to the degree that Ellroy can well assume the mantle of a latter day Dashiel Hammett. The bad guy characters are a little more developed and more believable than in the earlier Hopkins novels, particularly the relationship between the Garcia brothers, which generates a degree of empathy for real life brothers.
Worth reading - but do read the first two in the trilogy, just to save the best till last ... Read more

12. The Cold Six Thousand
by James Ellroy
Paperback: 688 Pages (2002-06-11)
list price: US$16.00 -- used & new: US$0.45
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 037572740X
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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In this savagely audacious novel, James Ellroy plants a pipe bomb under the America in the 1960s, lights the fuse, and watches the shrapnel fly. On November 22, 1963 three men converge in Dallas. Their job: to clean up the JFK hit’s loose ends and inconvenient witnesses. They are Wayne Tedrow, Jr., a Las Vegas cop with family ties to the lunatic right; Ward J. Littell, a defrocked FBI man turned underworld mouthpiece; and Pete Bondurant, a dope-runner and hit-man who serves as the mob’s emissary to the anti-Castro underground.

It goes bad from there.For the next five years these night-riders run a whirlwind of plots and counter-plots: Howard Hughes’s takeover of Vegas, J. Edgar Hoover’s war against the civil rights movement, the heroin trade in Vietnam, and the murders of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Bobby Kennedy. Wilder than L. A. Confidential, more devastating than American Tabloid, The Cold Six Thousand establishes Ellroy as one of our most fearless novelists.Amazon.com Review
With its hypnotic, staccato rhythms, and words jostling, bumping, marching forward with edgy intensity (like lemmings heading toward a cliff of their own devising), The Cold Six Thousand feels as if it's being narrated by a hopped-up Dr. Seuss who's hungrier for violence than for green eggs and ham. In spinning the threads of post-JFK-assassination cultural chaos, James Ellroy's whirlwind riff on the 1960s takes nothing for granted, except that absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Hurtling from Las Vegas to Vietnam to Cuba to Memphis and back again (and all points in between), from Dealey Plaza to opium fields to smoke-filled back rooms where the mob holds sway, the novel traces the strands of complicity, greed, and fear that connect three men to a legion of supporting characters: Ward Littell, a former Feeb whose current allegiance to the mob and to Howard Hughes can't mask his admiration for the Kennedy brothers and Martin Luther King; Pete Bondurant, a hit man and fervent anti-Communist who splits his time between Vegas casinos and CIA-sponsored heroin labs in Saigon; and Wayne Tedrow Jr., a young Vegas cop who's sent to Dallas in late November 1963 to snuff a black pimp, and who is fighting a losing battle against his predilection for violence: "Junior was a hider. Junior was a watcher. Junior lit flames. Junior torched. Junior lived in his head."

And behind these three, J. Edgar Hoover is the master puppeteer, pulling strings with visionary zeal and resolute pragmatism, the still point around whom the novel roils and tumbles. At once evil and comic, Hoover predicts that LBJ "will deplete his prestige on the home front and recoup it in Vietnam. History will judge him as a tall man with big ears who needed wretched people to love him," and feels that Cuba "appeals to hotheads and the morally impaired. It's the cuisine and the sex. Plantains and women who have intercourse with donkeys."

The Seussian comparison isn't that far-fetched: Ellroy's novel, like the children's books (and like the very decade it limns), is flexible, spontaneous, and unabashedly off-kilter. Weighing in at a hefty 700 pages, The Cold Six Thousand is a trifle bloated by the excesses of its narrative form. But what glorious excess it is, as Ellroy continues to illuminate the twin impulses toward idealism and corruption that frame American popular and political culture. He deftly puts unforgettable faces and voices to the murkiest of conspiracy theories, and simultaneously mocks our eager assumption that such knowledge will make a difference. --Kelly Flynn ... Read more

Customer Reviews (111)

4-0 out of 5 stars The Cold Six Thousand
It is difficult to review this book in isolation as it is the middle volume of the "Underworld USA" trilogy.Ifyou haven't read the first volume, "American Tabloid," a lot of "Cold Six" isn't going to make a lot of sense.I'm looking forward to reading this one and the final volume, "Blood's A Rover."

3-0 out of 5 stars Reads like a Dick and Jane book
American Tabloid was one of the best books I have ever read, I was so looking forward to the next 2 in the trilogy, but I just had to stop reading after 100 pages. The so-called "noir" style to me reads more like one of those old kindergarten Dick and Jane books. See Dick. Dick has a gun. Dick shoots Jane. Jane's head explodes. Dick has a cigarette.

The only parts that were not painful to read were the transcripts, at least there was some narrative.

I don't know what the attraction is to this style but it takes long paragraphs to describe what can be done in a normal well constructed sentence - see American Tabloid for an example of how a book like can be written wonderfully I might add. It got so all I was really reading was the action and my brain was starting to cut parts out because it is just tedious to read.

I might have to try it again because the story is so good I really want to see how it progresses but for right now I have to give it break.

5-0 out of 5 stars Book on Tape Cassette
Quick delivery; have no comment on tape quality because I have yet to listen to the book.

3-0 out of 5 stars Pretty Good, Not Ellroy's Best
The Cold Six Thousand is James Ellroy's hardboiled account of the seamy side of the 1960s. In Ellroy's fictional account, the murders of JFK, Martin Luther King, and RFK were all the work of underworld figures and the FBI. This is a good book, but the implausible plot keeps me from rating it higher than three stars.

Readers who are familiar with Ellroy's work will not be surprised by the book's strengths. Ellroy has the ability to write a novel with a twisted plot that comes together in the end. Another strong aspect of The Cold Six Thousand is Ellroy's sense of pacing; the novel moves throughout all of its 670+ pages.

Unfortunately, The Cold Six Thousands has some weaknesses. The violence is unremitting and very nasty. Ellroy spares the reader no details and the gore overflows at times. I also thought that Ellroy's tendency tend to use historical figures as characters was unsatisfying; none of the people in Ellroy's books are alive to defend themselves against Ellroy's vicious attacks on their good names.

Ellroy's fans will not want to miss this one. But he has written much better books.

4-0 out of 5 stars Addictive once started.
I wasn't prepared for the style of writing here, short two and three word sentences, lots of short statements about what was going on, without a lot of extra description or extended dialogue.I almost put it down for good after the first few pages, but I was pleasantly surprised with how good and entertaining it turned out to be.

This was the first by this author, so I guess I should have started elsewhere, but I felt the work stood alone without a problem.

There is plenty of violence and rough language in this book, but it shows a side of the sixties that probably existed for many just as depicted.It is interesting to juxtapose race relations and mob activity in the sixties with how it is today.

I definitely recommend this to those that like historically set crime fiction, with lots of action, violence and depravity.I'll be looking for more by this author myself. ... Read more

13. L.A. Confidential
by James Ellroy
 Paperback: 512 Pages (1997-09-01)
list price: US$14.95 -- used & new: US$5.98
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: B002NSLN8A
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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James Ellroy's L.A. Confidential is film-noir crime fiction akin to Chinatown,Hollywood Babylon, Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, and Jim Thompson. It's about threetortured souls in the 1950s L.A.P.D.: Ed Exley, the clean-cut cop who lives shivering in the shadow of hisdad, a legendary cop in the same department; Jack Vincennes, a cop who advises a Police Squad- like TV show and busts movie stars for payoffs from sleazy Hush-Hush magazine; and Bud White,a detective haunted by the sight of his dad murdering his mom.Ellroy himself was traumatized as a boy by his party-animal mother's murder. (See his memoir My Dark Places for the whole sordid story.)So it is clear that Bud is partly autobiographical. But Exley, whose shiny reputation conceals a dark secret,and Vincennes, who goes showbiz with a vengeance, reflect parts of Ellroy, too. L.A. Confidential holds enough plots for two or three books: the cops chase stolen gangland herointhrough a landscape littered with not-always-innocent corpses while succumbing to sexy sirens who havebeen surgically resculpted to resemble movie stars; a vile developer--based (unfairly) on Walt Disney-- schemes to make big bucks off Moochie Mouse; and the cops compete with the crooks to see who can bemore corrupt and violent. Ellroy's hardboiled prose is so compressed that some of his rat-a-tat paragraphsare hard to follow. You have to read with attention as intense as his—and that is very intense indeed. Buthe richly rewards the effort. He may not be as deep and literary as Chandler, but he belongs on the sametop-level shelf.Amazon.com Review
James Ellroy's L.A. Confidential is film-noir crime fiction akin to Chinatown, Hollywood Babylon, Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, and Jim Thompson. It's about three tortured souls in the 1950s L.A.P.D.: Ed Exley, the clean-cut cop who lives shivering in the shadow of his dad, a legendary cop in the same department; Jack Vincennes, a cop who advises a Police Squad-like TV show and busts movie stars for payoffs from sleazy Hush-Hush magazine; and Bud White, a detective haunted by the sight of his dad murdering his mom.

Ellroy himself was traumatized as a boy by his party-animal mother's murder. (See his memoir My Dark Places for the whole sordid story.) So it is clear that Bud is partly autobiographical. But Exley, whose shiny reputation conceals a dark secret, and Vincennes, who goes showbiz with a vengeance, reflect parts of Ellroy, too.

L.A. Confidential holds enough plots for two or three books: the cops chase stolen gangland heroin through a landscape littered with not-always-innocent corpses while succumbing to sexy sirens who have been surgically resculpted to resemble movie stars; a vile developer--based (unfairly) on Walt Disney--schemes to make big bucks off Moochie Mouse; and the cops compete with the crooks to see who can be more corrupt and violent. Ellroy's hardboiled prose is so compressed that some of his rat-a-tat paragraphs are hard to follow. You have to read with attention as intense as his—and that is very intense indeed. But he richly rewards the effort. He may not be as deep and literary as Chandler, but he belongs on the same top-level shelf. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (110)

5-0 out of 5 stars Another Major Ellroy Work
This is another major novel by one of America's great -- though slightly unsung -- writers.

5-0 out of 5 stars There's nothing secret about this one, its just a great book.
This is a great book. Really, great. Why? It offers insight into basic human motivations suck as greed, lust, and the desire for fame. These base motivations drive the characters forward into a place where they become complex and interesting. The book also offers a good story and great plot. The only problem with Ellory might be, and this is only to say might be, the fact that too much of whats involved in the story all seems to run together, but fair too easily. Other than that, the book is one the best ones I have read. Get it and enjoy.

3-0 out of 5 stars Gritty, Haunting, And Way Over The Top
The movie version of "L.A. Confidential" was a show I never wanted to end. The novel was another matter.

James Ellroy's Los Angeles is a depraved sinkhole of villainy and vice, where a cop's idea of bracing a suspect is breaking his skull or mangling his hand. Women trade on male weakness for easy money. Everyone is ultimately corrupt. "You want to know what the big lie is? You and your precious absolute justice!" a rape victim tells her avenger before stabbing him in the back.

If you are into that sort of thing, I can't imagine a better Charon for your journey to the underworld than Ellroy. His prose style tends to the dense and hyperbolic, but he's never dull. His ear for characters is magnificent, and he relates matters quickly with a minimum of detail and a jazzy blend of racial invective, profanity, and slang that makes you feel you are one of the damned circa the 1950s, riding a buzz of bennies and Charlie Parker to who knows where.

There's even glimpses of humor. One actor who performs as a kind of ersatz Mickey Mouse shakes off a sordid story with a half-bored shrug: "Jack, I'm tres Hollywood. I dress up as a rodent to entertain children. Nothing in this town surprises me."

Problem is, Ellroy doesn't make me care for one darn minute. Maybe I'm spoiled from the movie, which boils down the story into a straightforward whodunit without sidetracking me into a gruesome set of serial killings or a death-porn angle like the book does, tying them all together unconvincingly at the end. Maybe I needed to read the two prequel novels in Ellroy's "L.A. Quartet" series to understand the backstory better. But oftentimes, I felt Ellroy's predilection for macho posturing and morbid detail getting in the way of a story that only springs to life in bursts here and there, however tightly it is presented in the overall.

Fans of the film will be happy to know many of the brilliant characters from that exist here, too, in deeper and sometimes more compelling form. Brutal policeman Bud White, played in the film by Russell Crowe, is even more unhinged in the book, though you understand if not sympathize with his fury. His antithesis and archenemy, Sgt. Ed Exley, Guy Pearce in the film, has a deeper backstory involving phony war hero status and an over-privileged background he rebels against. Like other reviewers here note, Exley is the central character if anyone is, and with the plot running in 40 different directions, you appreciate his centering effect on the narrative.

"L.A. Confidential" is described by other reviewers as hard to put down. I can't agree, because I did put it down often, and paid a price when returning to find a minor plot point suddenly in the foreground of the story. Ellroy shifts around like that because he's a meticulous plotter, even when his overall story is less than full-baked. I am not as meticulous a reader, and paid a price. But something about the way Ellroy wrote kept me from engaging the novel more closely. He's worth reading, just a mite cold in his view of life and prone to mess.

5-0 out of 5 stars Nihilistic, Brutal Descent into LA's Vice Abattior
"LA Confidential" is not a novel to be read so much as it is a novel to be re-read, possibly 3 or more times.At nearly 500 pages, yes, that's asking a lot of a reader, but Ellroy and "LA Confidential" are well worth the stretch.But be warned--Ellroy never hesitates to shock with the vilest and most depraved extremes of human depravity and evil. "LA Confidential" unflinchingly serves up an intoxicating broth of '50's style, hairy-armpit men's sweat-magazine action, highly complex plotting, sick SICK crime intrigue along with historical based "faction" inspired by the LA police dept's long and sordid history of corruption.

Fans of the 1997 movie should DEFINITELY make the effort to experience the source material here.Brian Helgeland (who won an Oscar for his screenplay) did an outstanding job adapting Ellroy's novel, and I agree captured the spirit and essence of the novel.BUT so MUCH had to be left out to make a 2 hour movie.I would say 60% of the novel got left "on the cutting room floor" to adapt for screen. This is reason enough I think for movie fans to take a run at the novel, not only to see everything the movie had to miss, but also, to appreciate what a complex yarn Ellroy spun here AND certainly the bang-up adaptation Helgeland squeezed out of it.

It is the understatement of the year to just say James Ellroy is cynical in extremis about humanity in general."LA Confidential" has got to be absolutely as hard-bitten as crime fiction can get, and it seems like good is only done incidentally. Once every corrupt and predatory angle is played, some benefit is reaped by innocents only after these feral human pit-bulls tear each other to shreds. Maybe one gunsel or bent cop will find a whisper of a conscience during a lull in the bloodshed and double-dealing and provide readers with some backhanded facsimile of a happy ending.

So what's the appeal, then?Partly it's just the lurid shock of vicariously experiencing Ellroy's eternal midnight of California damnation.But let's give him awestruck credit for his tough, relentless, flint-edged plotting and dialogue that keeps you up way later than you should every night, to read just "one more chapter".I should also add that the blood and guts carnage is also heavily salted with wicked, biting humor to counterbalance the crime squalor AND further amaze you with Ellroy's prowess.If you have the stomach for crime noir this hard edged, I have never read anyone who does it better than Ellroy does.

I concede I may not be the sharpest crayola in the box, but as indicated in my opener, "LA Confidential" is SO dense and multilayered, with an unforgivingly huge cast of characters, that it is very easy to get lost or confused.All the better to read it again--and again--and grow into full appreciation of the elaborate elegance of the plot and to better appreciate the artistry--yes--of Ellroy's writing.It certainly helped me to have seen the movie first so I could picture the actors' faces while reading of them in the novel. But I am confident the novel packs no less of a punch even if you haven't seen the movie.

Once "LA Confidential" hooks you, step up to The Black Dahlia for more fact-based and equally grisly LA crime horror, then see Ellroy really soar with American Tabloid: A Novel, then sequel The Cold Six Thousand: A Novel, where his parallel universe of gang crime and political corruption goes national, fictionalizing the Bay of Pigs, JFK assassination, Howard Hughes' lunatic Las Vegas days, the nefarious J. Edgar Hoover, Bobby Kennedy, MLK, James Earl Ray, Sirhan Sirhan, & much, much more.

Only time will tell whether Ellroy gets recognized as a literary worthy like Dashiell Hammett and Jim Thompson got to be.Whether he does or not may not be settled in our lifetimes, but that should certainly not inhibit our enjoyment of Ellroy's brass-knuckled work today.If you won't get squeamish when the going gets rough, "LA Confidential" is your ticket to some top shelf crime mystery.Best enjoyed while sipping cheap bourbon on the rocks (cigarettes optional, but definitely era-appropriate).

5-0 out of 5 stars Rewarding in the Extreme
This third in James Ellroy's LA Quartet series of LAPD novels is an ambitious, profound and highly entertaining exploration of post-war Los Angeles power and corruption. The shotgun-blast writing style is initially disconcerting (I was going whaaaa???? for the first several pages), but once you get into Ellroy's rhythm, you'll be fine. He's one of the most original stylists writing today, and here his approach ideally suits the material.

The three main characters, ambitious rich boy Ed Exley, showboat cop Jack Vincennes, and brutal, tender Bud White, are all richly drawn, deeply flawed, and fully human. The many supporting characters, some actual historical figures, some inspired by historical figures and some fictional, are fascinating and fill appropriate places in the complex narrative. You must read closely and read all the way through as there are many interweaving plots and themes: police corruption, tabloid journalism, a prostitution ring, pornography, drugs, organized crime, plastic surgery, and seriously twisted skeletons in the closet of an animator/amusement park developer inspired by Walt Disney. If your mind is only half-focused, or you stop part way through and pick up the book several days or weeks later, you'll be lost.

Others differ, but for me, this is the best of the quartet and works just fine as a stand-alone. There's high drama, plenty of humor, lots of fun guessing who the real-life models for some of the characters might be--I've enjoyed Googling the character names to learn more about the real-life figures--and brutal, hard-won redemption.

Curtis Hanson's film adaption is of necessity boiled down--the movie is plenty complex with most of thenovel's subplots removed--but brilliantly done. Still, read the book for the full story. You won't be sorry. ... Read more

14. The Dudley Smith Trio: "Big Nowhere", "L.A. Confidential", "White Jazz"
by James Ellroy
Paperback: 1325 Pages (1999-11-04)
list price: US$31.00 -- used & new: US$20.12
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0099406381
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This Dudley Smith omnibus edition consists of: "The Big Nowhere", "L.A. Confidential" and "White Jazz". ... Read more

15. Hollywood Nocturnes (Vintage)
by James Ellroy
Paperback: 240 Pages (2007-06-12)
list price: US$12.95 -- used & new: US$6.19
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Asin: 0307278794
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Dig it. A famous musician-cum-draft dodger is plotting the perfect celebrity snatch–his own. An ex-con raging on revenge in High Darktown becomes a cop's worst nightmare.While chasing kidnappers, two cops stumble on an okie town as bloody as the O.K. Corral. A strongarm for Howard Hughes and mobster Mickey Cohen finds himself playing both ends against the middle, all for a murderously magnificent moll. This is L.A., Ellroy style–corrupt cops, goons with guns, rattling roadsters–and all in the staccato rhythm of the streets. Hollywood Nocturnes shows us the seedy side of glamorous Hollywood, laid out like a corpse in the morgue. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (12)

2-0 out of 5 stars Ellroy run amuck
James Ellroy is a strange bird. A novelist whose best work is his autobiography (the amazing _My Dark Places_), he comes across as someone you'd never invite into your home -- his politics are on the gross side and the guy's fixated on prostitution, drugs, the disgustingness of pornography, child killers -- and he keeps writing the same novel over and over and over. But he writes it so well. It's got this poppity pop style that has your eyeballs merrily skipping and dancing. . . until you hit one of his references to extreme depravity that leave you wrinkling your nose in disgust and your eyeballs moving even faster as they scan ahead to find a spot where you can pick up the story again.

Ellroy has done this story so many times that there is now quite a range to the theme and variations, not all of which are top-notch: Brown's Requiem (pretty good) to LA Confidential (almost brilliant save his over-the-top libel of Disney) to A Cold Six Thousand (so unreadable that it comes across as passive aggressive hostility toward the reader, like he's giving you the finger for having the temerity to buy his books).

Unfortunately the stories in Hollywood Nocturne are close in spirit to A Cold Six Thousand. They are written in his typical lovely style and not the `See Dick snort coke' style of A Cold Six Thousand. But the plots of the stories are so egregiously ridiculous that it's hard not to laugh out loud. `The Dick Contino Blues' starts out strong but then it degenerates into a faked kidnaping plot. Since there's a lot of talk about serial killer on the loose in Hollywood, you'd have to be willfully naive to not be able to guess who's really going to do the kidnaping.

The self-parody hits its peak in `Gravy Train', a story about a guy (on probation of course) who is responsible for taking care of a white bull terrier that has inherited the fortune from a businessman who made millions (illegally of course) and given it all to his pooch Basko. There's an accidental dognaping by some burglars who also train fighting dogs (of course). Here's how Basko's rescue is described:

>Two burly shvartzes were fitting black leather gloves fitted with razor blades to his paws; Basko was wearing a muzzle embroidered with swastikas. I padded back and got ready to kill; Basko sniffed the air and leaped at his closest defiler. A hot second for the gutting; Basko lashed out with his paws and disemboweled him clean. The other punk screamed; I ran up and bashed his face in with the butt of my roscoe. . . I grabbed Basko and hauled ass.

What are we to make of this? Is this clever postmodern irony? Does he prefer to stick to the pre-Civil Rights era so that deranged ethnic stereotyping is somehow `authentic'? [ "burly shvartzes. . . embroidered with swastikas. . . " The aforementioned eyeballs go cross-eyed.] Is Ellroy making fun of us for ever having liked anything he's written? Or is he just strung out on something?

Your guess is as good as mine.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great Stories About Hollywood Times Gone By
Hollywood Nocturnes is a collection of seven mystery stories mostly set in the Hollywood scene of the 1940's & 1950's.Many of these stories are clearly inspired by the true crime case of Elizabeth Short aka The Black Dahlia.

These stories show Ellroy at his best as an author of Hollywood mystery stories and are a must for anyone wanting to escape into a neatly done mystery.

3-0 out of 5 stars The Hardest of the Hardboiled Writers
Hollywood Nocturnes is a set of standard-issue, James Ellroy short stories. It has all of the usual Ellroy hallmarks: long-ago Los Angeles-area settings, characters who are a mixture of good and bad (but mostly bad), and considerable suspense. Hollywood Nocturnes will not disappoint fans of hardboiled mysteries.

Not surprisingly, the stories vary a bit in quality:

The first two (covering about 150 pages) are a fictionalized account of the real accordionist Dick Contino's life in Hollywood during the 1950s. I didn't think these two were that great; Contino doesn't seem to be that interesting to me & I found the story completely unbelievable.

The third story, "High Darktown," is about the plan for a train robbery at the end of World War II. It was readable, but not Ellroy's best.

"Dial Axminster 6-400" is about two cops who are assigned to transport a prisoner - and find themselves in a web of lies. This probably was my favorite story in the book; it's vintage Ellroy: an intricate plot, heartless characters, and enough action to keep you glued to the page.

"Since I Don't Have You" is about a man hired at the same time by Howard Hughes and gangster Mickey Cohen to find the same woman. It's entertaining, but completely unbelievable.

"Gravy Train" is about a man assigned to "baby-sit" a dog in a Beverly Hills mansion. It's the only story set in the recent past and Ellroy's weakest effort of the book.

"Torch Number" is about a lowlife who wants to find a singer he had an affair with, while he helps intern Japanese-Americans in World War II. I thought that this one worked well.

Ellroy is not for everyone. He is very politically incorrect and his characters can be ruthless and stupid. Don't expect to find too many "feel-good" stories in this volume. At best, you will walk away with a feeling that the world isn't a complete disaster.

In short, I recommend Hollywood Nocturnes to hardboiled mystery fans; if that's you, you won't be let down.

3-0 out of 5 stars Elroy tries short stories
James Ellory sacred the beejeezes out of me the first time I heard him read in public. He speaks like he writes--in the machine-gun, rat-a-tat, minimalistic style that permeates his characters' voices. I think something invaded his body when he was born in Los Angeles in 1948. He captures that underworld as if he had truly lived it. Or maybe it is the June 1958 cold-case murder of his mother that fuels his energy. Whatever it is, it has catapulted Ellroy into one of the best crime noir writers of the late 20th and early 21st centuries.

There are rumors that he will finally have a new book later in 2007. It's been too long since the reading public has been titillated to a new work (Destination: Morgue! in 2004). Maybe in anticipation or as a reminder that Ellroy is still lurking out there, Vintage Books has released Hollywood Nocturnes, which was originally published in hardcover in 1994.

I don't think Ellroy does well with a short form. He needs a novel format to capture his characters and plots with his signature style. Although all six stories have night/darkness as a theme, that's not enough to carry the collection. I wonder how well this sold when it was originally published? Probably pretty well, since it's being re-printed.

There's something missing in these six stories that I can't quite put my finger on. They start to build but then about the time I was ready to settle in for a great read, the stories end. My personal favorite, and the best in the collection is "Dial Axminister 6-400."

Although the collection is disappointing from my point of view, it's still James Ellroy writing--and for writers, it's worth the struggle to watch a master practice his craft.

Armchair Interviews says: Interesting short stories written by a great mystery writer.

2-0 out of 5 stars ehh...
As a another reviewer stated Ellroy is best with the novel format. I've read a lot of his books and it's taken me at least 100 pages to get into the stories, except for American Tabloid and The Cold Six Thousand.

"Dick Contino's Blues" is the best story in this collection. "High Darktown" is also good. The rest aren't very impressive. Having said that, I cannot wait until Ellroy's next novel. ... Read more

16. SEIS DE LOS GRANDES (Spanish Edition)
Hardcover: 880 Pages (2010-05-15)
list price: US$29.95 -- used & new: US$29.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 846664427X
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Dallas, Tejas, 22 de noviembre de 1963. El mismo dia que Oswald aprieta el gatillo, llega a la ciudad un agente del FBI, Wayne Tedrow Junior, con 6.000 dolares en el bolsillo y la mision de cargarse a Wendell Durfee, un jugador negro acusado de violacion y asesinato. Tedrow ignora que el magnicidio es el pistoletazo de salida de una carrera por los rincones mas ocultos y relevantes de la politica estadounidense. En el ambiente politico y social se respiran los conflictos raciales, Martin Luther King reivindica los derechos de la comunidad negra, Malcom X ha aparecido en escena. Esta el Ku Klux Klan involucrado en la muerte del presidente? Cuales son las relaciones del KKK con el FBI? ¿Cuantos hilos de la historia estadounidense es capaz de mover el director del FBI, J. Edgar Hoover? Conspiraron la mafia y el FBI para matar a Robert Kennedy y Martin Luther King? Como se relacionan el FBI, la droga y el anticastrismo? ... Read more

17. White Jazz: A Novel
by James Ellroy
Paperback: 368 Pages (2001-04-24)
list price: US$14.95 -- used & new: US$4.50
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0375727361
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Los Angeles, 1958.Killings, beatings, bribes, shakedowns--it's standard procedure for Lieutenant Dave Klein, LAPD.He's a slumlord, a bagman, an enforcer--a power in his own small corner of hell.Then the Feds announce a full-out investigation into local police corruption, and everything goes haywire.

Klein's been hung out as bait, "a bad cop to draw the heat," and the heat's coming from all sides: from local politicians, from LAPD brass, from racketeers and drug kingpins--all of them hell-bent on keeping their own secrets hidden.For Klein, "forty-two and going on dead," it's dues time.

Klein tells his own story--his voice clipped, sharp, often as brutal as the events he's describing--taking us with him on a journey through a world shaped by monstrous ambition, avarice, and perversion.It's a world he created, but now he'll do anything to get out of it alive.

Fierce, riveting, and honed to a razor edge, White Jazz is crime fiction at its most shattering. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (69)

5-0 out of 5 stars Listent to the music, and see hell!!!!
This is another installment in Ellroy's LA series. This one may not have yet been made a movie, but I think it might be my favorite one of the bunch. Why? Well, I would have to say that it rests in the fact that the main character maybe on of Ellroy's darkest. The story picks up from the other books in the series, but from the perspective of Dave Klein. Klein has a number of demons haunting him, but as he deals with other events. The events get beyond him and he gets tied into a number of things that he simply cannot talk himself out of, so he has to become something new. In the process of all the action and manipulation we are treated to a good insight into the depravity of the human soul. Get it and enjoy.

5-0 out of 5 stars Another great Ellroy title
James Ellroy's characters live unpleasant lives.But they certainly are exciting.If you're a fan of American Tabloid, this is the Ellroy novel for you, as it is written in that classic Ellroy staccato style.The story isn't nearly as involved as LA Confidential, but is still pretty byzantine.Great, great stuff.

5-0 out of 5 stars simply brilliant
After finally reading through La conifidential, i had to read the next one to see what happens to the characters next. I wasnt disapointed. Ellroy, is simply put brilliant. He creates wonderful new character Pete b, Chick, and Dave klien, who is a smart bud white. I also , liked how justice finally shined on Dudley Smith, who maybe crime fiction's best villian. I mean, this guy sells drugs to only negroes, has other negroes beat like slaves jsut to kill them off, he ordered the killing of six people just to take over a porno enterprise, and he killed a district attorney who was probably going to squeel on him. If he isnt evil, i just dont know what it is.

5-0 out of 5 stars "Go with the music--spin, fall with it"
WHITE JAZZ stared at me from the shelf for two years before I cracked it open.I read a few pages and put it down, annoyed.It was confusing.I couldn't adapt to its beat.But I picked it up again and plunged in deeper.The rhythm of the staccato prose kicked in.The urgency of the plot swept me up.This stench of corruption overwhelmed me.It was intricate, complex, assured -- brilliantly freeform but always tightly structured.Late night reading led to swirling nighttime visions -- jazz that kept playing long after the pages had been slammed shut.Dangerous.Addictive.Feverish stuff.

5-0 out of 5 stars Not to be taken too seriously
Apparently this book is on the hit list of policemen across the nation.That alone caused me to read it.Policemen like to read dimestore novels while enduring the boredom of the beat.This book depicts police officers as corrupt, willing to slice the truth in half for their own purposes, and involved in lot's of mischief themselves.The outcry by police officers for depicting police as "perverts" and "hypocrites" shows what a fragile ego members of that vocation have.And to think Ellroy capitalized off it.I truly think is was a sense of "revenge" that Ellroy wrote this book.Apparently Ellroy had a tough life and was frequently treated shabbily by police officers when he was arrested frequently for shoplifting.Apart from the merits of Ellroy's own shortcomings, I have to laugh at the reaction police officers across the country have had to this book. ... Read more

18. Blood on the Moon
by James Ellroy
Paperback: 262 Pages (2005-05-10)
list price: US$13.95 -- used & new: US$7.34
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 140009528X
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Product Description
Detective Sergeant Lloyd Hopkins can’t stand music, or any loud sounds. He’s got a beautiful wife, but he can’t get enough of other women. And instead of bedtime stories, he regales his daughters with bloody crime stories. He’s a thinking man’s cop with a dark past and an obsessive drive to hunt down monsters who prey on the innocent.

Now, there’s something haunting him. He sees a connection in a series of increasingly gruesome murders of women committed over a period of twenty years.To solve the case, Hopkins will dump all the rules and risk his career to make the final link and get the killer. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (9)

3-0 out of 5 stars Haven't Read It Yet
Was drawn to the novel by its title.I suspect Ellroy, who is a contemporary, was awed by the title, as I was, from a very good Robert Mitchum western.Ellroy has a gift for elegantly contrived gore and disgust scenes.I salute him.I have the same facility but little opportunity to use it.

4-0 out of 5 stars Vintage Ellroy
A great beginning to the Llyod Hopkins trilogy. I am a big fan of Ellroy's work and this book begins with a bang and sustains its pace throughout. What I love most about the writing is he deals with similar themes a la James Patterson, Walter Mosley, or Jonathan Kellerman, but in a more eloquent, interesting, and realistic fashion. A beach read with real heart and beautiful prose.

1-0 out of 5 stars Awful!
Truly one of the worst books that I've ever had the misfortune to read.
Ellroy obviously knows nothing about firearms, automobiles, and, quite possibly, anything else to do with writing.

5-0 out of 5 stars different kind of ellroy
Easier to follow than some of his later stuff, but a plot that won't quit.

2-0 out of 5 stars Not impressed
After reading L.A. Confidential, my first Ellroy after attempting to read My Dark Places and the Black Dahlia
I felt a bit let down. At the halfway point am considering making this my last Ellroy. ... Read more

19. The Best American Noir of the Century
Hardcover: 752 Pages (2010-10-05)
list price: US$30.00 -- used & new: US$15.19
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0547330774
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

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In his introduction to the The Best American Noir of the Century, James Ellroy writes, “noir is the most scrutinized offshoot of the hard-boiled school of fiction. It’s the long drop off the short pier and the wrong man and the wrong woman in perfect misalliance. It’s the nightmare of flawed souls with big dreams and the precise how and why of the all-time sure thing that goes bad.” Offering the best examples of literary sure things gone bad, this collection ensures that nowhere else can readers find a darker, more thorough distillation of American noir fiction.  
James Ellroy and Otto Penzler, series editor of the annual The Best American Mystery Stories, mined one hundred years of writing—1910–2010—to find this treasure trove of thirty-nine stories. From noir’s twenties-era infancy come gems like James M. Cain’s “Pastorale,” and its post-war heyday boasts giants like Mickey Spillane and Evan Hunter. Packing an undeniable punch, diverse contemporary incarnations include Elmore Leonard, Patricia Highsmith, Joyce Carol Oates, Dennis Lehane, and William Gay, with many page-turners appearing in the last decade.
... Read more

Customer Reviews (15)

4-0 out of 5 stars A Generous Helping of Darkness
Noir, both written and on the screen, when done well is strangely addictive.It may be a certain voyeuristic attraction to something we can hardly imagine another human doing that makes it so.Whatever it is for the last 100 years or so it has been a staple in literature and editors, James Elroy and Otto Penzler, attempt to distill it down to a one-stop best-of collection.That would be a formidable task as well as one where there would be necessary omissions if not for some elimination.The editors have attempted to focus on what, I believe, they feel is true to the strictest sense of their definition of the genre with emphasis on stories, sometimes by "A-list" authors, that they feel may have been somewhat lesser known.The reader will not find, for instance, any of the quite commonly read "detective noir" type stories inspired (or actually written) by Chandler and Hammett as, I imagine, they consider that a category unto itself that is not in particular need of more exposure.They have dug deeper and it shows as we are given a diverse collection spanning the decades from the 20's until present.Not all decades are given equal treatment as that was not a requisite, but quality and diversity with very black darkness is evident.

If you enjoy reading noir fiction this collection gives the reader great value in volume and quality.There's more out there than is collected here that is as good, but that is not a stumbling point as here we have a very enjoyable collection that generously compiles so much in one volume and at a small cost to the reader, highly recommended.

5-0 out of 5 stars Fascinating, Frightening, and Possible Realism!
This anthology has taken me over a week to complete. With 39 writers and stories all who share the same qualities of noir storytelling. This anthology is not for the squeamish or easily frightened. It is for those of us who enjoy taking a short visit on the dark side of humanity but will always return to the light.

39 stories in this anthology are unique and could be even expanded to novel format. They have inspired films and television programming. The authors are listed below with the year of the story's publication, the title, and my own personal comments without it sounding like a summary. I do believe that if you are an avid reader that you will find this anthology to both fascinating and frightening all at once.


Tod Robbins: 1923SpursAn interesting tale that inspired the film, Freaks, about a midget and his lady love and unhappily ever after.

James M. Cain: 1928PastoraleInteresting but I need to read it a few times to get the gist of it.
Steve Fisher: 1938 You'll Always Remember Me-It's dark, entertaining, and there's a twist that you didn't see coming. Classic Noir.

Mackinlay Kantor: 1940 Gun CrazyOkay but not great.
Day Keene:1945 Nothing to Worry About: The not-so perfect murder and a twist that you didn't see until the end.

Dorothy B. Hughes: 1946: The Homecoming:It's okay.

Howard Browne: 1952: Man in the Dark: Interesting and has some twists that you couldn't imagine.
Mickey Spillane: 1953: The Lady Says Die!: It's okay but not that interesting.
David Goodis: 1953:Professional Man: Fascinating Tale about Freddy Lamb, the ordinary guy, and Pearl.
Charles Beaumont: 1955:The Hunger:It's okay but ends before it reaches a climax.

Gil Brewer: 1956:The Gesture: A trapped couple in an unhappy marriage.
Evan Hunter:1956:The Last Spin: It's not that great but very short.

Jim Thompson: 1960:Forever After: A new spin on the afterlife.
Cornell Woolrich: 1968:For The Rest of Her Life: It's okay for the most part.

David Morrell: 1972: The Dripping:A Short horrifying tale! One of the best in this book.
Patricia Highsmith: 1979:Slowly, Slowly In the Wind: The Queen of American Noir's personal favorite short story. It's doesn't have a happy ending of course.

Stephen Greenleaf: 1984: Iris: Sad tale about black market babies but one of the best stories in this book.

Brendan DuBois: 1987:A Ticket Out: A cautionary tale about trying to get out of small town Americana with tragic results.

James Ellroy: 1988:Since I Don't Have You: A contributor and author who specializes about the dark nature of tinseltown in all of his works. He has a short story worthy of reading for all Ellroy fans out there.

James Lee Burke: 1991: Texas City 1947: Another tale about child abuse in a small town and an unforgettable nun named Sister Roberta.

Harlan Ellison: 1993:Mefisto in Onyx: A great noir short story classic The relationship between the killer and the psychic is not what it seems to the reader. A noir classic! Worth reading!

Ed Gorman: 1995: Out There in the Darkness: Inspired the book and film, "The Poker Club." A noir classic!

James Crumley 1996:Hot Springs: It's a hit or miss story for me. I didn't care for it.
Jeffrey Deaver: 1996:The Weekender: A twisted weekend resident in a country town causes more problems than he's worth. Classic noir!

Joyce Carol Oates: 1997: Faithless: a surprisingly dark tale about a minister and his estranged wife. Classic Noir!
Tom Franklin: 1998:Poachers: Okay story but not great!
Lawrence Block: 1998:Like a Bone in the Throat: a classic noir story about a victim's brother and his sister's brutal killer/rapist from the trial to a death.

James W. Hall: 1999: Crack: A voyeuristic story reaches almost classic noir status.
Dennis LeHane: 1999: Running Out of Dog: A story about post-traumatic stress syndrome from a Vietnam vet. Interesting but not a personal favorite of mine.

William Gay: 2000: The Paperhanger: I didn't get it overall.
F.X. Toole: 2001:Midnight Emissions: a boxing tale from the author of "Million Dollar Baby." Okay but not great.

Elmore Leonard: 2002:When The Women Come Out to Dance: A good short story about an unhappy marriage in Florida.

Scott Wolven: 2002:An interesting tale about a man who takes another identity.
Christopher Coake: 2003: All Through the House: One of the best noir stories that I have read in this anthology. Perhaps, one of the best stories written anywhere. Clear, concise, classic noir. It could make a brilliant novel.

Thomas H. Cook: 2005:What She Offered: An odd tale about Veronica and an author in NYC.
Andrew Klavan: 2005: Her Lord and Master: a kinky relationship between two NYC professionals ends tragically.

Chris Adrian: 2006:Stab: a strange story about children's deadly path of destruction.
Bradford Morrow: 2006: The Hoarder: I didn't care for it.
Lorenzo Carcaterra: 2007:Missing the Morning Bus: Another short story that's okay but not great.

5-0 out of 5 stars Highly Recommended
If you're already a fan of the genre, you'll be pleased with this magnificent edition. If you don't know what noir is, then this is a splendid introduction.

In fact, if you're a novice, the editors James Ellroy and Otto Penzler each provide a brief introduction offering their interpretations of the term. Penzler contends noir is a "...prodigiously overused term to describe a certain type of film or literary work" which is actually "...virtually impossible to define, but everyone thinks they know it when they see it." Ellroy, naturally, offers his own distinct views on the subject. Incidentally, a fine example of his dark prose is included in the volume.

Examples range from a 1923 tale by Tod Robbins to a 2007 story by Lorenzo Carcaterra. A majority of the stories were published in vintage pulps, though a surprising number also made the pages of prominent literary magazines. Each story is preceded by a brief biographical sketch on the writer, the date when the story originally appeared and where.

All the big names are here, including a few you might not have considered noir writers.

Each reader will find his own favorites. Some of mine included James W. Hall's brilliant "Crack;" James Lee Burke's "Texas City, 1947;" Patricia Highsmith's "Slowly, Slowly in the Wind;" Evan Hunter's "The Last Spin;" James M. Cain's "Pastorale;" Joyce Carol Oates' "Faithless," and Elmore Leonard's "When the Women Come Out to Dance."

But there's lots more to enjoy and recommend. It's a superb collection.

5-0 out of 5 stars This is Why it's Called "Noir"
If you're a fan of hard-boiled crime fiction, take a tour through a century of murder and grit and vengeance and irony in this blockbuster anthology that spells the history of American noir as told by the masters of the genre.These artists paint from a limited pallet - from light gray to Stygian black - a primer in tough guys and dangerous dames stepping through the decades in the stuff that filled pulp magazines and nickel novels and cinema led to some of the greatest television in America from Hitchcock to "Route 66" to "The Twilight Zone."All of the favorites are here: Mickey Spillane, Charles Beaumont, Jim Thompson, James Lee Burke, James Crumley, Lawrence Block, James M. Cain, Dennis Lehane, Leonard Elmore and of course co-editor James Elroy, ripping through over seven-hundred pages in staccato bursts of gunfire, field-stripped literary gems honed down to the gristle and bone of crime-essence lean enough to fit between the pages of"Manhunt" or "Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine."

You can thumb through and stop randomly in "The Best American Noir of the Century" and be assured of page-turning suspense, tension, mayhem, and intrigue. Or just start from the diabolical beginning with Tom Robbins' "Spurs", a deliciously disturbing tale of revenge that was the inspiration for the uber-creepy 30s horror film "Freaks."

It's impossible to pick the best of this lineup of stars, but the ones that will be most gnawing at my subconscious include:

Day Keene's "Nothing to Worry About," a fulfilling little tale of meticulously planned murder gone bad.

Or Howard Browne's creepy and grisly "Man in the Dark," a twisted tale of infidelity set in LA's seamy hills and Hollywood slime.

Mickey Spillane knocks it out of the park with "The Lady Says Die," an (almost) light hearted twist on the locked room murder or, in this case, suicide.

Elevator man Freddie Lamb is much more than he appears in David Goodis' "Professional Man."

Or William Gay's haunting tale of a parent's worse nightmare in "The Paperhanger," and Christopher Coake's superb "Momento"-like backwards-told plot of "All Through the House."

And one that had me going back to Amazon to check out his novels was Tom Franklin's "Poachers," a tale that was both terrifying and poignant, a dark, moody, and disturbing portrait of the steamy south that will have you sweating in an air conditioned room.

Sure, every analogy will leave some of your favorites out.In the last decade or so, I'd have given Joe Lansdale a starting position; maybe give Charlie Huston, Duane Swierczyinski, or Victor Gischler a shot as well. But I quibble.This is a remarkable collection that makes a convincing argument that noir really was geared for the short story rather than a novel.Kudo's to James Ellroy and Otto Penzler - a classic history of a unique American literary art form.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Century's Worth of Criminals and Femme Fatales
Noir is not, as many mistakenly think, merely crime fiction or detective stories.Rather, noir stories are, in the words of Otto Penzler, "existential, pessimistic tales about people...who are seriously flawed and morally questionable."In other words, the bad guys are the main characters; there are no heroes.Penzler proves that this genre can be both fascinating and great fun in //The Best American Noir of the Century//, which he co-edited with noir master James Ellroy.

Most of these writers have also worked for Hollywood, and many of the tales have been adapted into films.This is the case with the earliest selection, "Spurs" by Tod Robbins, which became the classic movie //Freaks//.The stories read, in fact, like episodes from //Law and Order// or //The Wire//--wonderful, bite-size bits of crime, lust, and murder.A woman coerces her boyfriend to kill her husband.A hit man is given the difficult job of offing his girlfriend.A girl is enamored of a serial killer.

The fantastic list of authors includes many of the greats: Mickey Spillane, Harlan Ellison, Elmore Leonard, and Dennis Lehane, among others.

Reviewed by Katie Cappello ... Read more

20. Scene of the Crime: Photographs from the LAPD Archive
by Tim Wride, James Ellroy, William J. Bratton
Hardcover: 240 Pages (2004-10-01)
list price: US$35.00 -- used & new: US$70.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0810950022
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Product Description
Los Angeles in the decades after the Depression was a smoldering powder keg of vice, corruption, violence, and some of the most sensational crimes in American history. The Black Dahlia slaying, the Onion Field murder, film star Thelma Todd's mysterious death, the killing of Kansas City gangsters "The Two Tonys" by Jimmy "The Weasel" Fratiano: these are but a few of the cases that once riveted the nation's attention and were captured in striking crime-scene and forensic photographs for the Los Angeles Police Department.

Long forgotten in a warehouse, these recently discovered photographs from the LAPD archive form a powerful visual history of the underbelly of Los Angeles from the 1930s to the 1960s. Although disquieting and often brutal, the images have an atmospheric, eerie beauty that belies their documentary purpose. They are accompanied here by captions from police logs and original newspaper accounts, along with an introduction by James Ellroy, the leading practitioner of the Los Angeles noir genre, and an essay by curator Tim B. Wride discussing the archive's importance to social history and the history of photography.AUTHOR BIO: William J. Bratton is the 55th chief of the Los Angeles Police Department and has also served as police commissioner for both the Boston and the New York City police departments. James Ellroy's books include the international best-sellers The Black Dahlia, The Big Nowhere, L.A. Confidential, White Jazz, and American Tabloid. Tim B. Wride is associate curator of photography at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (8)

5-0 out of 5 stars Raw, Real and Honest
There isn't much information on these stories. Most these pictures are from long lost files, yet it is a must have for any fan of forensic photography and crime.The pictures are large and detailed.The book is a great "coffee table" style book and is very well bound.

4-0 out of 5 stars Great photos from the LAPD archives
I saw a story about the authors on a local PBS show in Los Angeles, they are preserving the LAPD photo archives and have picked some of their favorites for this book. It's a bit gruesome in parts (of course, they are crime scene photos!) but it is an interesting glance into L.A.'s past, and I'm glad these folks are doing what they can to preserve our heritage. The photo presentation is great - this is a nice, large format book that gives you good sized images. Recommended for fans of photo and/or the macabre.

4-0 out of 5 stars Good, But Lacking In Comparison
Scene of the Crime is the latest in a recent influx of collections of crime scene photography, and it has added appeal in that some of the images are of famous cases, such as the Black Dahlia murder and the Manson Family slaughterhouse. The book is laid out in the same manner as most of these books, with black and white images presented in the first half of the book, and information for each photograph at the back. Unfortunately, many of the photographs piqued my curiosity, only to find a sad, unsatisfying, "case information unavailable" comment awaiting me in the back of the book. Still, many of the images are so well-composed and interesting that they could be seen in art museums rather than cold case files, so this is a minor quibble.

However, there are also quite a few lesser and uninteresting images as well, which left me feeling a bit cheated given my suspicion that the LAPD coffers are overflowing with many more graphic, historic, and fascinating images. Comparing this book to the classic LA crime gallery Death Scenes: A Homicide Detective's Scrapbook serves to further point out this collection's shortcomings. There is nothing in here as punch-in-the-gut brutal as the image of the decapitated baby on the cutting board or as surreal as the peaceful head sitting in the middle of a road after a traffic accident, both from Death Scenes. Taken on its own merits, I might have given the book a five skull rating, but in comparison with its more amazing brethren I'd have to rate it a four.

4-0 out of 5 stars Excellent collection
I am sure everyone is aware that Scene of the Crime is not the first collection of police archive photos to be released. The past few years have seen the release of many collections of such photos; the most well known being New York Noir, Evidence and Death Scenes.New York Noir and Death Scenes have a common thread in their use of well-known writers in their introductions. Luc Sante the noted New York historian collected the photographs for Evidence and penned the introduction for New York Noir.Katherine Dunne, the author of Geek Love is responsible for the intro to Death Scenes. Scene of the Crime follows that tradition; drafting the modern master of Los Angeles noir, James Ellroy, to pen the introduction to this collection of archival Los Angeles crime photos.Much as Luc Sante was the ideal choice for New York Noir, Ellroy is perfect for this collection of photographs from the city that has been his muse.

Some may be inclined to compare collected archival crime scene and police photos to the work of Weegee, but to do so would be a mistake.In his time Weegee photographed to satisfy tabloid papers and their readers.Don't get me wrong, I love the photographs he took, but the police photographer is not in it for the same thing. The crime scene photographer is there for documentation.It's his job, no different than taking portrait shots of unruly and unkempt children in a corner alcove at the local mall.However, there is art to be found in crime scene photos, it is not just point and shoot.The angles, the shadows, the composition of the photos, why some have the faces of the victims shown and why some do not, these are all aspects of the art behind the documentation of the crime scene.

After the introductions and essays the photograph collection is shown with no documentation other than the notes of the photographer written on the image.This technique forces the viewer to look at the photos and imagine the stories behind them.How and why did all the subjects living and dead end up facing the lens of the Los Angeles Police Photographer? The two suited men shot over dinner.The man shotdead in an open doorway.An empty room with an open door.Bloodstains on the floor. Cheesecake photos pushpinned to a panel wall.Cigarrette cartons and bottles strewn across a wood floor.Heads resting in puddles of blood.Knife and razor cuts. Bodies laying in doorways, on steps, in cars, on streets, face down, on their backs, partially dressed, fully suited, naked and cut into pieces. Bodies lying in tubs, lying in shallow graves, shot, beaten. Dead and beaten women who would be beautiful if it were not for the blood that has run from their mouths, noses, and ears. Sharp dressed men, with their suits covered in their own blood.Ah, the good old days...

After the collection an index tells as much of the story behind each picture as possible.It is interesting to look at the index and see how close your imagination was to the reality.How close were you to deciphering the scenes?Did you nail the stories behind the SLA note, the suicides, the lovelorn, the rejected, the beaten, the famous, the unknown, the riots, the drunks, the mobsters, the stars, the starlets, the starry eyed, or the Manson family?

At first I did not appreciate the layout of the book, photos with no captions.Without the background you are forced to study the scene more intently than you would if all the details were given to you.What happened?What time did the crime take place?Why did the crime take place?Who would commit such a crime?Who's body are you looking at?In effect, you become a detective, arriving at the scene of a crime, knowing absolutely nothing other than what you are staring at.In the end, this is a perfect layout for a collection of crime scene photographs.A book that becomes more revealing and more interesting every time it is opened.

4-0 out of 5 stars Good but not great
Scene of the Crime was a bit disapointing due to the fact that the readr must go back and forth from the photos, to the captions, which are compiled at the end.Quite a few of the cases have no information available at all, as the other reviewers have mentioned, and although the LAPD has done a great job maintaining paper on most of these cases, some details are bound to slip through the cracks.

A few of the cases depicted in "Scene of the Crime" are also depicted in Huddleston's "Death Scenes", though nowhere near as graphic. Many of the locations found in the book are still standing, as a matter of fact, I often pass by the building shown on pgs 52-53 (traffic collision at 1st and Boyle) though now its an apartment building but still featuring the unique parapet up top.

Overall a pretty good read. ... Read more

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