I like Ellroy a lot, but I have to take him in small doses. You know how long it took me to finish this book? Nearly a month. We might blame the fact that this was my “carrying around” book. Lunchtime, coffee, standing in line at the grocery store.. But also, there were times that I would read two pages and something so crazy would happen that I would have to put it down.
So. 1958 Los Angeles. It seems that all of the cops are on the take and the Feds are trying to take them down. Our “hero” Dave Klein, a Lieutenant, has been a mob enforcer for years. He gets caught in the middle of some burglaries and murders and side jobs with Howard Hughes that start to intertwine until he is totally screwed.
This book is ugly. With the violence and the racism and the sex (read as: prostitution, rape and incest) that I don’t even want to talk about. And let’s not get started on my issues with wondering just how close to any reality these police stories may be.
The reason I read this stuff is the trying to figure out, among all of these bad guys, who The Bad Guy actually is.
Another reason that this took me awhile is style that Ellroy employs. Klein has this clipped sort of train of thought when he is working things out. By the end of the novel, one gets used to it, but it is slow going to follow at first. He has a theory, shoots down a theory, remembers something someone said, runs through the options. In a few dozen words. I’d have to read some passages three times to put the thoughts together in English.
I will need at least twelve months before I pick up another Ellroy.
But that was fun.