Roman C, Reviewer
Another 'hot date with history' Following almost straight on from 'Perfidia', this opens on New Year's Eve 1941 and closes in May 1942. It's another manic slice of LA low-life in Ellroy's trademark staccato tones, getting even more hallucinogenic and stream-of-consciousness. Kay Lake's diary offers some more traditional narrative to break up the jittery, jazzy, hard-to-hold-onto storylines. Fans of Ellroy will know what to expect in this continued descent into the maelstrom of wartime LA: violence, betrayal, corruption are everywhere, all the characters are tortured or tortuous. Joan Conville who had been haunting the margins of 'Perfidia' finally makes it on stage and women generally play a more prominent role in Ellroy's world of toxic masculinity. I'd say it's pretty much essential to have read at least 'Perfidia' before this, ideally some of the earlier books, too, though they're later in chronology. If Ellroy's been a struggle for you in the past I'd be very surprised if this one changes your mind. Extravagantly violent, uncompromising in its refusal to make things easy or accessible, this is an adrenalin-rush of complicated, stylised, noir storytelling. (I'll just add that the ARC is in bad shape with half lines and repeated paragraphs throughout - you do have to wade through this one).