Posts Tagged ‘James Ellroy’

James Ellroy, Perfidia, Crimezine

James Ellroy: palaverous, pleonastic, perpetrator of Perfidia

Good evening peepers, prowlers, pederasts, panty-sniffers, punks and pimps. It is time to bark like a Demon Dog. James Ellroy, self-styled White Knight of the far right is back, with a perfidious new purveyance of faithlessness, treachery and betrayal. Perfidia is the fourteenth full-length Ellroy offering. A seven hundred page donkey choker of a novel set in the 23 days surrounding the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii in 1941.

A prequel to The L.A. Quartet, that includes The Black Dahlia and LA. Confidential and the Underworld U.S.A. Trilogy of American Tabloid, The Cold Six Thousand and Blood’s a Rover. Ellroy threatens from the very outset that this will be the first in a new quartet, featuring a cast of crimetastic characters from his earlier bestsellers.

All the gang are here: Bucky “Tojo teeth” Bleichert, Lee Blanchard, Dudley Smith, Kay Lake. Mickey Cohen—on and on. According to the Dramatis Personae at the end of the book, there are at least 87 characters, and it seems like we meet a new one on every page. That’s right Crimeziners—Perfidia pops, purrs and pontificates as the benzedrine buzz of perverse pomposity and brass-knuckle beatings hit heavy from page one. Things get ugly fast. But you knew that would happen. This is Los Angeles, City of Angels, the hardboiled home of James Ellroy, and he rules baby.

Racist epithets bounce like bullets. Note the rampaging right wing revelry. Kough as the Kitchy Kreator Koos Konstantly about a Karnival of KKK Kooks. Thrill as he creates a swirling nexus of bad ju-ju. Observe as he ravages the reader with ribald repetition: J@P. J@P. J@P. J@P; CH¡NK. CH¡NK.CH¡NK. JEW, JEW, JEW, Short sentences shift, as his nomenclature of nastiness runs out of control. Jews we learn are Commies who started the Russian Revolution. They are cynically responsible for World War II. No doubt many suspected this. Seig-heils abound. Nazi uniforms abound. Preposterous far right posturing goose-steps across every page.

Item: Hideous Hari Kiri. Seppuku slashings. J@p murder most horrid.

Japanese criminologist Hideo Ashida plays a central role in Perfidia. As do very many homogenous white LAPD cops—every one of them savage booze-addled haters and bitter racist homophobes. “Queer” humor features heavily. African Americans do not. They are called C**NS, Jigab**s, Nigg@s. They live in “Darktown or the “Jigab** Jungle.”

Item: Benzedine. Opium. Benzedine. Opium. Benzedine. Opium Benzedine. Opium.

But this is just a bit of fun, right? Raping rectums with right wing rhetoric. It is not to be taken seriously, is it? Ellroy is after all the Dr. Seuss of gross abuse. When he heaps on the homo hate and the perverted panty peeping putrescence—It is just dear sweet uncle Jim isn’t it? The night stalker of crime noir. You would invite him over for a slumber party sleepover with your troop of teenaged girl scouts in a New York second wouldn’t you? Of course you would. Squeeeeeeeeee.

But what’s this? A perverted peep inside the diary of Kay Lake? A narrative noodling? A feminist faux pas? A cynical sop to the bull-dagger community?

No need to worry Crimeziners the leitmotif is lusty and lascivious. We get lots of lovely “lesbos” and Kute Kate schleps schlong plenty long[time] with every man she meets—and tells us everything. [Pant!]

Item: Terpin Hydrate. Benzedine. Terpin Hydrate. Benzedine.

But the sexy shenanigans don’t end there my round-heeled friends.

Slanderous salaciousness swims forth as Ellrovian characters rut with real-life screen divas: Joan Crawford features. Bette Davis features—on and on. This is not a work of love. It is a work of megalomaniacal obsession, bordering on insanity.

Item: Booze-addled room-spin. Pints of Whiskey and Mezcal. Terpin Hydrate. Benzedine. Opium. Chained-cigarettes on booze and bennies.

Staccato sentence structures twist taboos with verboten verbiage—ravaging the reader with ribald repetition. Boo-coo big-words and kanji characters come rápidamente. Hep-cat crime slang and cop-jargon are trowelled across every page. Bow down the malignant milieu of the monstrous mensch. Submit to the power of his poetical dialecticism. He is verbose, putrescent and marvelously malfeasant.

Blood gout, brass knuckle work, beaten bloody with a beaver-tail sap and lead-lined gloves—when willllllllll it ennnnd? More pages to go—lots of them—many of them in italics. Bombastic. Grandiloquent. Loquacious. Circumlocutional. A veritable bow-wow’s breakfast of tautological rambling. A palaverous and pleonastic police procedural to end all others. Do you dig it nowwwwww? Of course you do. You worship. You kow-tow. You indulge his every whim. Ellroy is the master. He rules over your every waking breath and commands your nightmares. He is the man—the god—the bestial second coming—and he conquers all.

Only another three novels to go Crimeziners, unless the white-coated men with butterfly nets capture the old goat first. But even then, you just know Ellroy will be there in the Los Angeles home for the criminally priapic, scratching out his DeSadeian prequels until the Faustian muse snatches him from us. James Ellroy the deranged and garrulous king of crime fiction long may he reign.


The Alberto Domínguez song Perfidia popularized by Xavier Cougat (1940) and Desi Arnaz plays throughout the novel. Dig the “flashback to Paris” scene in Casablanca—Perfidia plays again—and more recently in the Wong Kar-wai flick Days of Being Wild. Crimezine prefers the Julie London version.

James Ellroy

James Ellroy

“If you like piña coladas and getting caught in the rain; if you’re not into yoga and you have half a brain, James Ellroy is available if there are any single women.”

Good evening peepers, prowlers, pederasts, panty-sniffers, punks and pimps. James Ellroy, the devil dog of crime fiction is back. Crimezines favorite angry old man surfaced at the Garvin Theatre Santa Barbera recently, to harangue and horrify, patronize and pontificate, and deal out a double helping of noirish-noodlings on his favorite subject: namely himself, and his ding-dong super-schlong.

There was a side order of ‘Black Dahlia nastiness too, of course, no Ellroy encounter would be complete without it. But as Santa Barbera scribbler Emerson Malone found out to his cost, the great man is somewhat sick of talking about past glories.

Ellroy is however buzzed about his noirish new LA quartet. The first installment of the series Perfidia is due next year. The great man also revealed that he has emerged from his self-imposed literary exile, in order that he might once again start “dating”. Ladies, you have been warned.

I watched an interview online in which you said you saw L.A. Confidential and thought it was overrated. Did you really see it 32 times and consistently and not enjoy the movie?

There’s a great many things wrong with it. It’s not profound. And why should it be? It’s a Hollywood movie. It’s 15 percent of my novel. There are 14 plotlines in the novel, and although not dramatically connected in the novel, served as the basis for a coherent narrative.

You really saw it 32 times?


While The Black Dahlia was in pre-production, you seemed cynical about the adaptation. Was there anything you enjoying about that movie?

Let’s put it this way: I would never criticize for an attribution any motion picture based on one of my books because I took the money. Nobody forced me to take the money. Black Dahlia, the poorly received movie, sold more books for me in seven weeks than the magnanimously acclaimed L.A. Confidential did in fifteen years. It’s about the books in the end.

Why do you think that is?

I don’t expect logic from the world. I truly don’t.

In 2009, you said in an interview that “All movie adaptations of [your] books are dead.” Have you enjoyed anything of yours that was translated into film?

I enjoyed the money. I love a good movie. If I never saw another movie, I wouldn’t care.

Did you enjoy Rampart?


Did the film stay true to how you envisioned it?

It’s not my vision at all it was rewritten from underneath me by the director. That motion picture has nothing to do with the original script that I wrote. Nothing.

How is writing a screenplay different from writing a novel?

That’s an easy question and you already know the answer to it. It’s very, very easy: with a book, every word furthers character, furthers plot. Motion pictures are collaborative works that very seldom cohere under the strain of collaboration. Novels are organic works indigenous to a man or woman.

Do you think it’s really common in Hollywood to distort the original work?

They have to take a work of narrative fiction and reduce it to a form that will fit into two-hour time frames in motion pictures.

Are you okay with them doing that when you make the money?

They can do whatever the f–k they want as long as they pay me.

What is it about L.A. and that era that is so important to you?

I was born in L.A. during ‘48. My parents hatched me in a cool locale. I got lucky.

What can you tell me about the second L.A. quartet novels?

The L.A. quartet (“The Black Dahlia,” “The Big Nowhere,” “L.A. Confidential,” “White Jazz”) covers Los Angeles between 1946 and 1958. The Underworld U.S.A. trilogy, (“American Tabloid,” “The Cold 6000,” “Blood’s A Rover”) covers America at large from ‘58 to ‘72. The second L.A. quartet, I’ve just begun. The first volume, takes characters from the original trilogy and places in Los Angeles during World War II as significantly younger people. I’m writing the first novel now. It transpires solely within the month of December 1941, the month the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor.

Is there a release date for Perfidia?

Toward the end of next year [2013].

I read online that it was toward the end of this year.

Never believe anything you read on the Internet.

You claimed aside from “The Onion Field” by Joseph Wambaugh, you never read contemporary books by other authors in fear that they may influence your work. Is this true?

I never said they would influence my work. That’s a misquote. I don’t read. Period. I don’t read. It has nothing to do with [influence from other writers]. I don’t enjoy reading anymore. I’m a master. You have to be great for me to dig you. I don’t enjoy distraction.

I am best served in my life’s goals if I lay in the dark, brood, sleep, listen to classical music, spend time with my few friends, and chase women. That’s what I do. I chase women. I spend time with my few friends. I brood. I sleep. I earn money, and I work.

So you enjoy writing much more than reading.

Yeah. That’s why I’m here.

Why do you think people enjoy your books?

They are obsessively realized. They are deeply passionate and rigorously intelligent.

In an interview with TIME magazine, you said people aren’t born good writers and they have to read consistently to assimilate the rudiments of style and technique in writing. Is there a reason you don’t follow your own advice?

I took what I could while I was young. I read for many, many years. I turned 30. I started writing. I was good. I quit reading. It was an instinctive change.

Do you have anything that inspires your writing style? Would you claim it’s wholly original?

I have at home an alcove adjoining my living room fireplace. It’s the Knopf Korner, my publisher. It’s the greatest publisher in the world. Corner with a K. Their mascot, their symbol is the boar’s eye dog, so I have a boar’s eye dog there from an old Knopf advertisement.

I have my own six hard covers, published by Knopf. I have below that the Knopf books that I have published, all of which I read while I was quite young. Raymond Chandler, the five novels of Dashiell Hammond, the great novels by J. M. Kane, three anthologies compendiums of Ross McDonald’s work.

I have key early work of Joseph Wambaugh, who Glynn and I were just talking about the Los Angeles policeman-turned-novelist and Compulsion by Meyer Levin, Libra by Don Delillo, the complete poems of Anne Sexton, Jack Webb’s book, “The Badge” his ode to Los Angeles police department.

They’re covered with plastic sheaths. They are the key books. I have the boar’s eye, again the Knopf symbol, bookends and I pay homage to my reading influences every time I pass through my living room, but I am not interested in reading new books.

You just stick to those books?

I look at them occasionally. I’m happy to have them there.

Have you learned anything about how to write since you started writing?

I learned by doing every day. I’m obsessed with language. I love the American idiom. I love racial effective. I love Yiddish. I love black hipster street patois. I love a great racist joke, a great dirty joke. I love the American language. I love perfect English. I love differentiating voices in my policemen characters, my criminal characters, my politician characters. I love engaging the grand design of my career, which is to rewrite American history to my own specifications. It’s a form of literary megalomania. I am nothing but power-crazed and I have finally found a vent, World War II, big enough to house my megalomania. This is what will keep me busy for the next seven or eight years.

Why do people think it’s so weird that you don’t rely on technology and you still write long-hand?

I don’t own a TV set. I don’t own a cell phone. I’ve never used a computer.

Why do people think that’s so weird?

Because people are full of shit and people are conformists and people want a life of convenience and ease and I don’t. People like distractions. I like solitude.

Why do people think writing long-hand is so archaic?

I don’t know. I’m not in their heads.

[On The Black Dahlia case]: One of the things I never talk about in my fiction is what’s real and what’s not. In the end, it’s a novel and I made it up. I don’t know who killed Elizabeth Short. I will not discuss any theories about who killed her. I will not discuss the specific, horrifying things that happened to her in the days preceding her death. There’s a great deal I don’t know about the Black Dahlia case. Professor Redding knows a lot more about it than I do.

Do you think it’s the way Elizabeth Short’s body was left behind is what distinguishes Black Dahlia case from other murder cases?

It was a crime of unique and unspeakable savagery. It occurred at a time in pre-public accountability, pre-media saturated America that mandated all by itself its notoriety. In other words, not a lot was happening than this horrible crime.

Do you think the murderers of your mother and Elizabeth Short were misogynists?

Of course. You don’t kill women unless you were found of misogynistic rage.

When was the latest development or lead in the Black Dahlia case?

False leads come in all the time. There is currently a very gifted homicide detective with LAPD who is charged with overseeing the Black Dahlia case, because leads still come in. There’s not the slightest hope in Hell in ever solving the case.

Would you say your mother’s death began your interest in studying crime?


What’s the last memory you have of your mother?

You know what? I’m not going to answer that. That’s a second source question. You need to look at the book, “My Dark Places.”

Did you ever feel you were trying to reconnect with your mother posthumously?

The book describes my arc of reconciliation with her and it was the experience of a lifetime. I’ll reconnect with her when I shuffle off this mortal coil and we reunite on a cloud. Until then, and I’m not looking forward to it, because it means my death, I’ll be content with the way things are.

Would you say it’s “The Badge” by Jack Webb that started your interest in crime fiction?

My mother’s death occurred in June ‘58. I eagerly began obsessing over kid mystery books. The Badge by Jack Webb was one of the first adult crime books I ever read. It was really the beginning of my fixation with The Black Dahlia case, thus I am here at Santa Barbara City College today and my fixation with the Los Angeles Police Department.

Why did your father buy you the book?

I loved crime and I watched Dragnet every night on TV every Thursday night and Jack Webb was the star and director. He played Sergeant Joe Friday.

Why did your father buy it for you? Because I was an uncommonly precocious 11-year-old boy and he thought I’d dig it.

You’ve accepted that you’ll never find the murderer of either your mother’s case or Elizabeth Short and you’ve said closure is nonsense. How do you reach acceptance with that?

The passage of time. The constantly shifting tides of memory that those of us who are left behind go through and the fact that I just have very strong will to be happy. I want to be happy and I want to be fulfilled. I don’t want to succumb to my traumatic influences.

Are you happy?


With brooding?

I love to brood. I am God’s child. I am gifted. I am blessed with talent and drive and height and good looks and ambition and I’m digging life.

You compared yourself to Beethoven in an interview because you’re both megalomaniacs. How are you a megalomaniac?

I want power. Oh, yeah. I like having personal power. I like being able to go off by myself and create something from scratch and have it reach fruition in a form of coherence that only I could have come up with. I like seeing my books on people’s shelves. I like living the lives of characters I’ve created. I like rewriting history to my own specifications.

You write your characters with your own attributes?

There’s a little bit of me in most of my major characters. You look at aspects as far as the new book goes. Dudley Smith’s charm. Kay Lake’s passion. William H. Parker’s moral rectitude. It all comes from me.

In your teenage years through your twenties, you were engaged in minor crimes and spent some time in jail. Did this have any affect on the way you viewed crime in L.A.?

I broke into houses and sniffed women’s undergarments. I drank and used drugs. I stole. I slept in deserted houses. I’ve always despised crime. I’ve despised lawlessness, even while I committed crime. I was atypically conservative for someone of my generation of a profligate lifestyle of someone in the American 1960s and ‘70s. I was ashamed of what I was doing even as I did it and I quit drinking and using drugs as I quit doing it.

How much do you know about the Zodiac killer?

I know some. I’ve seen David Fincher’s wonderful movie a dozen times. I read the two books. The movie’s a luminous work of art. Glynn loves the movie as well. I find it breathless and very deep, imperfect, and wonderful. Glynn, Anne [Redding] and I at lunch were talking about unknowability and the metaphysics of it. It’s at the heart of the Black Dahlia murder case.

Both the Zodiac killer and the Black Dahlia murderer sent anonymous letters to the newspaper with evidence proving that the letter-sender was the murderer. Do you think that the Zodiac killer drew inspiration from the Black Dahlia case?

[whispering.] I don’t know. You can’t chart in anyone’s life direct influence like that. It’s impossible to prove. As a novelist, I can go ahead and make the leap to fiction and say the character was influenced in this matter.

What do you think their motives were in mocking the press?

They were seeking to say to their huge and defective egos.

Do you think they succeeded?

No, people like that, horrifying, cowardly predators are just that. They’re horrifying. They’re cowardly. They’re weak and they operate from an abyss of psychotic emptiness. They kill wantonly. They destroy the happy, the contented, and those who can walk honorably in the human community for the specific reason they cannot.

Do you think if a murderer did the same act today, the message would be published as it was then?

I’m sure unscrupulous newspaper people might do it, yeah, for whatever their motives.

How important was crime in society then?

It’s definitive of the society. America’s a place with great secular freedom. We’re an outlaw nation built on superhuman drive, grit, spittle, sex, land grabs, tribal feuds, religious acrimony and all great nations are. Wherever you have a society like that at base competitive, you will have crime.

Is it true humans are the only species that kill themselves?

I don’t know. Have I ever heard of a Bengal tiger having a sexual identity crisis and killing himself? No.

[Glynn]: No thumbs.

How much does the motive behind a murder matter?

Everything is inextricable. The history. The psyche of the detective. The psychology of the victim. The motive of the killer. Everything is proportionate. It depends upon the artistry of the person telling the story.

How about in real life?

I don’t know. I make it up. In the case of Perfidia, we know the Japs bombed Pearl Harbor on 12/7 of ‘41. We’ve got a Japanese criminalist over here. We’ve got Capital William H. Parker over here. The demonic Irish cop Dudley Smith over here. I know what I’m doing. I know what’s real and what’s fictional. After a while, as I’ve put it all together, it blurs. In the end, I end up telling people like you I don’t know.

Among all the murders you’ve studied, is there some unifying factor among them?

No. Remorselessness.

Is there a fundamental difference between a person who has the capacity to kill someone and a person who doesn’t?

You don’t know if someone has the capacity to kill someone. That’s an intangible factor. If they kill someone, they have the capacity. I don’t know if you or I do, or if Glynn does.

Have you ever considered killing anyone?


Would you ever kill someone?

To protect a loved one, to avenge a loved one, certainly.

What would have to be the circumstances to lead you to it?

What I just told you.

Do you think spending time trying to analyze the minds of someone like Ted Bundy or Jeffrey Dahmer is a waste of  time?

I’m not a psychologist. Serial killers don’t interest me. There are people who do this for a living. I’m glad they do because knowledge is power. It’s not for me.

How long have you been studying Black Dahlia?

I haven’t looked at it in many years. I’ve looked at it more since earlier this year when I became friends with Anne than I have in a long, long time. I’ll think of some new shit to say during my talk tonight and then that’ll be it for awhile until next time I do an interview on The Black Dahlia or do a speech on it.

So this is a one-time thing?


When was the last time you publicly spoke about it?


Do you ever get bored with talking about it?


Are you bored with it?


Are you doing this begrudgingly?

No. Anne and I are good friends. It’s a good outing for Glynn and I. I may meet some women at the reading.

Have you lived in L.A. your whole life?

No. I spent 25 years away from L.A. How many more minutes of this?

Did you vote in the recent election?


Are you in favor of capital punishment?


At what point do you think someone doesn’t deserve to live anymore?

When their transgressions become so horribly remorseless, premeditated, usurious and vile. That they have violated the civil contract past all shot at human redemption. It’s time to stand up as a society, and say, ‘You go.’

In a Rolling Stone interview, you said that in the 1960s and 1970s, “I was never a peacemaker. I was a fuck-you right-winger.” Subsequently you claimed your right-wing tendencies are just something you say, “to fuck with people.”

I exaggerate my right wing tendencies to fuck with people. I know when to vulgarize them and play them up to get peoples’ goat. I’m a conservative.

Do you frequently mess with interviewers?


Do you openly lie during interviews?




Is there anything else you would like to add?


Interview: Emerson Malone. The Channels City College Santa Barbera

Onion-Field- Crimezine

Jimmy Lee Smith left, and Gregory Powell

March 9 1963 LAPD officers Ian Campbell and Karl Hettinger pulled over a suspicious car containing armed robbers Greogory Ulas Powell and Jimmy Lee Smith. Following an armed stand off, officer Hettinger was forced to relinquish his weapon, which resulted in both officers being kidnapped and driven to a lonely onion field outside Bakersfield, where officer Campbell was murdered.

Crimeziners who have read Joseph Wambaugh’s classic account of this crime will remember how slowly the gears of justice ground in a case that resulted in a public realization that the Dragnet generation of omnipotent policing had ended, ushering in a bold new era of lawless brutality.

This week a new sign that reads “Ian Campbell Square” has been installed at Gower Street and Carlos Avenue, the junction where the two cops were kidnapped. At the dedication Crimezine favorite, author James Ellroy, read the Scottish Pipers Incantation quoted in Wambaugh’s book. “The wild insistent pipes and the marching feet defiantly answer that there is no more death,” Ellroy said. “Ian, rest in peace.”

The words must have echoed around the California Medical facility in Vacaville, because as soon as they had they been uttered, Gregory Powell was dead from prostate cancer. Powell 79 who escaped the death penalty after killing Campbell was denied parole 11 times, most recently in 2010. Powell associate Smith was paroled but continued to have run-ins with the law. He died in 2007 while imprisoned for a parole violation.

Officer Campbell’s daughter, Valerie Campbell-Moniz, from El Dorado County witnessed the unveiling. Only 3 years old when she lost her father, she has spent her life following the fates of the killers.

LAPD’s bagpipe ensemble, played at the dedication. Campbell, who died at 31, had played the pipes since childhood. Bagpipes were played at his funeral, a tradition the LAPD has continued for every fallen officer.

The tale of Campbell and Hettinger is taught to every LAPD recruit. New strategies and procedures were implemented, as a result of this case including how officers approach vehicles, position themselves, communicate and keep control of their guns. It’s not uncommon for a veteran officer to drive a rookie to the intersection where Campbell and Hettinger were kidnapped.



Devil dog Speaks

There is no question that James Ellroy is as eloquent as he is controversial and in this timely collection of interviews edited by Crimezine chum and all round Ellroy expert Steve Powell the self-styled devil dog of Crime Fiction gushes forth.

Those familiar with Ellroy’s style of ranting hyperbole will have heard much of this before. For those of you unfamiliar with Big Jim’s outspoken histronics, prepare to be shocked and entertained in equal measure.

The joy of James Ellroy is that he is as outrageous and outspoken as he is stylistically talented as a writer. Here the fabulous Mr Ellroy crosses swords with fellow crime writers Craig McDonald David Pearce and many others, including several previously unpublished interviews.

Crimezine first met Ellroy on the Cold Six Thousand book tour in London England, a period when the great man admits in his book the Hilliker Curse that he was weirded out on prescription meds. No kidding. He came across like Heinrich Himmler meets Dee Dee Ramone. He spoke short sentences. He spoke in verse. He bestowed shock and awe quotations. He delivered dogma with double-fisted controversy and prurient paradox. With Ellroy it is always this way.

Ellroy revels in reliving his past as a panty sniffing dope fiend and low rent housebreaker, offsetting this with seemingly contradictory views as a card-carrying god squader and right-wing demogogue. He despises squalor, rock and roll and nihilism. He eschews the modern world, choosing to avoid television, movies, cell phones, computers and books.

Yes, you heard it right Crimeziners. Ellroy is a writer who has no books other than his own—if we are to believe the hype and there in lies the rub because Ellroy is as smart and tuned in as it is possible to be—he says he avoids the modern world—but at a push he will provide acerbic commentary that betrays more knowledge than he likes to let on. Perhaps if he denies knowledge of everything other than himself then the conversation will be confined to him? That fits. That is Ellroy—No question.

Monsterous, perverse, egomaniacal, but always eminently quotable, the irony is that Ellroy has obsessed for years over dysfunctional megalomaniacs like J. Edgar Hoover and Howard Hughes, but he fails to see the very real parallels between their behavior and his own. Conversations with James Ellroy, is essential, if unsettling reading, Crimezine recommends it wholeheartedly.

James Ellroy

James Ellroy’s LA: City of Demons

They have given him his own TV show! By sheer force of personality James Ellroy  the man makes fascinating viewing. Dig his fifties throw-back dress sense, his robotic alliterative monotone, punctuated like his writing with grisly and unseemly epithets.  But most of all dig his relentless retro-crime enthusiasm. In the first episode we get the death of his mother, the Black Dahlia and the murder of 17 year old Lilly Burke.

This show is an opportunity for  the king of Retro Noir to insinuate his personality on a whole new generation of crime fans. To those of us who know the devil dog of old there is not much new information on show here, because the great man is at his greatest when he is talking on his pet subjects. Episode two is about Lana Turner and Johnny Stompanato and Scandal rags like Confidential and Whisper. You can just bet he has a Mickey Cohen episode in the wings too and why not, this is what Ellroy does best: obsessing over  past sins of a bygone generation cocooning us in the knowledge that he like us already knows the punchline.

And what a punchline it is: twisted tales from a twisted city. The show can be seen Wednesdays at seven and ten on Investigation discovery. Interestingly in the pre-show publicity Ellroy revealed that he has no computer, and no cell phone. He does not watch television. He never reads novels or newspapers, nor does he go to movies. He has no books, he says, other than his own and in case you want to talk music, he thinks Beethoven was the last musician worth a listen. Big Jim. Check him out, he’s quite something.

Good evening peepers, prowlers, pederasts, panty-sniffers, punks and pimps, It’s a big one!  Six hundred and forty pages of roiling conspiracy and double cross, as three lonely, and haunted  men are driven to their emotional and spiritual exhaustion, in their quest for a femme fatale known as Red Joan.

This tale unfolds amid a broiling milieu of riots, right-wing conspiracy and the political aftermath of the Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King assassinations. This book is the third and final episode of Ellroy’s Underworld USA trilogy. The first book, American Tabloid covering the period 1958-63 was voted Time magazine novel of the year 1995. The second, The Cold Six Thousand was a poetic, ambitious and intensely plotted tale of  bad men in the the sixties. Blood’s a Rover follows on from that book with more fluid and conventional prose.

But this is not a book for the faint of heart or the casual reader; if you take your eye off even one of the narrative plates that  Ellroy spins with such effortless ability, you will be lost without redemption. For the initiated, the usual piñata targets are here:  Howard ‘Dracula’ Hughes, Edgar ‘Nancy Boy’ Hoover, the head of the FBI and a particularly nasty ‘Tricky’ Dicky Nixon. In the immortal words of Ellroy, this book will have you: reamed, steamed and dry-cleaned; tied, dried and swept-aside, before you are finally: screwed, blued, tattooed and bah-fongooed.

Ellroy Is the Demon Dog of crime fiction , the Foul Owl with the death growl, the White Knight of the far right. He writes books for all the family he tells us, if that family happens to be the Manson Family. Which ever way you look at it, Ellroy writes compelling and idiosyncratic prose. He is number one in a genre  that he created. His work goes beyond fiction, or pure history and mines a rich and disturbing seam of seediness within the world of American life that is so dangerous and subversive it might just be true. Read and enjoy baby.

The title comes from an A.E. Houseman verse “Clay lies still/But blood’s a rover”. Ask not for whom the bell tolls Jim…

Two books in the space of a year? Seems James Ellroy is writing again. It has been too long. But what’s this: The Hilliker Curse, my Pursuit of Women? Oh dear, more stuff about his dead mom, more stuff about his life as a prowler, peeper and panty-sniffing dope fiend. Frankly we have been here before in his excellent My dark places. But the guilt and dysfunction is weighing heavy on the great man’s conscience— he has to unburden, he has to tell us every last grimy detail of unabridled creepiness, hoping that we will still love him, or perhaps love him even more. A gamble that must have his publishers gasping with fear. More likely they traded this doomed confessionals publication in the hope they would get another bestselling quartet of LA based retro noir, a genre in which Ellroy is unsurpassed.

Fans of this great man’s writing will be unsurprised that he has had issues with women, they will be unsurprised that he has skated on the precipient edge of what Hunt S. Thompson so accurately termed ‘Bad Craziness’. One must hope that Ellroy, unlike  Thompson, has not reached that point in his career where dysfunction and cash-in repetition have become substitutes for true artistic expression. Big Jim it would seem is past caring, such attention seeking confessionals are stock behaviour for Ellroy, in keeping with his renegade persona. We must remember however that even renegade persona’s have feelings. Many have been mystified that Ellroy has never learned his lesson, let us hope he never does, it’s what keeps him interesting.