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Old 07-27-2012, 02:53 AM   #1
raychensmith
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If you haven't read James Ellroy, you're missing out

You know, the guy who wrote LA Confidential except LA Confidential wasn't his best book. Once in an interview, Ellroy boasted he was the greatest mystery writer in the history of literature. Now, I'm not sure if I would go that far, but for my money, he might just be the greatest LIVING mystery writer. His is a impressively warped imagination, and his early detective Lloyd Hopkins books put to shame Michael Connelly's Harry Bosch stories. James Ellroy, though, really comes into his own with his mid-career stories, particularly The Black Dahlia (reimagining, what else, the infamous Black Dahlia slaying) and American Tabloid (about the JFK assassination). His later works, like The Cold Six Thousand, aren't as successful unfortunately; the guy seems to become too enamored with his prose, which becomes almost unreadable. But his early and mid-career work--absolutely stellar. So I would recommend (yes, I'm c&ping from Wikipedia, but I've read all of these):

All his early books:
Brown's Requiem (1981), Clandestine (1982), Killer on the Road (1986), Blood on the Moon (1984), Because the Night (1984), Suicide Hill (1985)

The Black Dahlia (1987) -- HIS MASTERPIECE. Read this first.

American Tabloid (1995) -- Read this second.
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Old 07-27-2012, 12:57 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by raychensmith View Post
[...] Now, I'm not sure if I would go that far, but for my money, he might just be the greatest LIVING mystery writer. His is a impressively warped imagination, and his early detective Lloyd Hopkins books put to shame Michael Connelly's Harry Bosch stories. James Ellroy, though, really comes into his own with his mid-career stories, particularly The Black Dahlia (reimagining, what else, the infamous Black Dahlia slaying) and American Tabloid (about the JFK assassination). His later works, like The Cold Six Thousand, aren't as successful unfortunately; the guy seems to become too enamored with his prose, which becomes almost unreadable. But his early and mid-career work--absolutely stellar. So I would recommend (yes, I'm c&ping from Wikipedia, but I've read all of these):

All his early books:
Brown's Requiem (1981), Clandestine (1982), Killer on the Road (1986), Blood on the Moon (1984), Because the Night (1984), Suicide Hill (1985)

The Black Dahlia (1987) -- HIS MASTERPIECE. Read this first.

American Tabloid (1995) -- Read this second.
Thanks for bringing this up.

I would strongly recommend the whole LA quartet (The Black Dahlia, The Big Nowhere, L.A. Confidential, White Jazz). The stories are interconnected.
Spoiler:
White Jazz is immensely satisfying for the simple reason that mister super-bad finally is dealt with.


I would suggest to read American Tabloid after the the whole LA quartet. Of the early stuff I only read some of the Lloyd Hopkins novels. - Imho not that original, e.g. Silence of the Lambs made a better serial killer story.
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Old 07-27-2012, 02:17 PM   #3
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An author I haven't previously heard of. I'll certainly put him on my "to read" list.
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Old 07-27-2012, 06:35 PM   #4
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I've read a handful of his stuff. He's one of the most overrated authors around, IMHO. More like a modern Mickey Spillane than anything else.
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Old 07-28-2012, 03:50 PM   #5
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I've read a handful of his stuff. He's one of the most overrated authors around, IMHO. More like a modern Mickey Spillane than anything else.
Comparing Spillane to Ellroy is like comparing Tom Cruise to Jack Reacher.
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Old 07-29-2012, 12:09 AM   #6
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I thought his Black Dahlia book was AMAZING. Excellent book.

Also, he wrote a book/memoir/slash real life detective story based upon his re-opening of a very special cold case: The unsolved murder of his mother. It's called My Dark Places, and it was a peculiar book, one that became an exploration of the author's own demons while he searched for the answer to who murdered his mother and why. An incredibly haunting and perverse story.
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Old 07-29-2012, 03:49 PM   #7
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I met him at a book signing in Atlanta. Nice guy, but seemed a little uncomfortable.

At the time, his current book was White Jazz, which I bought for my brother-in-law.
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Old 07-31-2012, 02:11 PM   #8
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I enjoyed his LA quartet. Fairly noir, VERY non-politically correct, and ultimately perverse. He brought an era of severe corruption and social unrest to life.
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