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James Ellroy is a unique and powerful writer with a tough and explosive voice. His obsession with the dark side of L. A. is personal and vital, triggered by the murder of his mother when he was ten. This defining event spawned an early addiction to paperback crime novels, and Ellroy's own writing is saturated in an often violent underworld of bent cops, politicians, stars, sleeze and rumour. Ellroy exploits memory, history, fact and fiction with relentless energy and panache. What emerges is an intense, mythical version of tinseltown in the second half of the twentieth century.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780099279990
ISBN-10: 0099279991
Format: Paperback
(198mm x 130mm x 19mm)
Pages: 304
Imprint: Arrow Books Ltd
Publisher: Cornerstone
Publish Date: 17-Apr-1999
Country of Publication: United Kingdom


US Kirkus Review » A collection of disparate pieces all previously published in GQ, by a haunted master of the hard-boiled Los Angeles detective genre (L.A. Confidential, 1990; The Black Dahlia, 1987; etc.). Part one, titled "Unsolved," groups three pieces, one of them an account of the murder of Ellroy's mother in El Monte, Calif., in 1958, which was later expanded to become My Dark Places (1996). This unsolved crime "corrupted and emboldened" his imagination, leading to a fascination with murder and police work and ultimately a career as a crime writer. The other two pieces recount the police investigation into El Monte's second unsolved murder 15 years later and the suspicious death of Karyn Kupcinet, a drag-addicted actress, in 1963. The two pieces of fiction in part two, "Getchell," are a hilarious tour de force of alliteration ("Matted hair and maggot mounds on a mauve rug. Blood blips on white walls and windowpanes"), narrated by Danny Getchell, editor of Hush-Hush, a sleazy Hollywood scandal magazine. They are swiftly plotted tales of extortion, sex, murder, and mayhem peopled by celebrities, cops, drag dealers, and assorted LA lowlifes. Part three, "Contino," focuses on Dick Contino, an accordion player of short-lived '50s fame. First is a nonfiction piece in which Ellroy tracks him down and interviews him, followed by a short story whose twisted, fast-paced plot features Contino, Getchell, and a full cast of Hollywood characters involved in double-dealing and violence. Pan four, "L.A." is a mixed bag: a short and scathing piece on O.J. Simpson, written before his trial ended; a terse profile of the present-day L.A. County Sheriff's Homicide Bureau; a brief visit with Curtis Hanson, director of the film version of L.A. Confidential; and Ellroy's reminiscences about his junior high school days in the early 1960s. While the last few pieces seem rather weak ones to end on, fans of Ellroy's punchy, macho style and his nightmarish vision of Los Angeles's seamy underside will find much to savor here. (Kirkus Reviews)

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Author Biography - James Ellroy

James Ellroy was born in Los Angeles in 1948. His novels, The Black Dahlia, The Big Nowhere, L.A. Confidential, White Jazz, American Tabloid and My Dark Places have won numerous awards and were international bestsellers. He lives with his wife in Kansas.

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