James Ellroy

cover for The L.A. Quartet cover for This Storm cover for The Underworld U.S.A. Trilogy, Volume I cover for The Underworld U.S.A. Trilogy, Volume II

The Second L.A. Quartet

fiction

This Storm
New Year’s Eve 1941, war has been declared and the Japanese internment is in full swing. Los Angeles is gripped by war fever and racial hatred. Sergeant Dudley Smith of the Los Angeles Police Department is now U.S. Army Captain Smith and a budding war profiteer. He’s shacked up with Claire De Haven in Baja, Mexico, and spends his time sniffing out Fifth Column elements and hunting down a missing Japanese naval attaché.

Fiction

Perfidia
The hellish murder of a Japanese family summons three men and one woman. William H. Parker is a captain on the Los Angeles Police Department. He’s superbly gifted, corrosively ambitious, liquored-up, and consumed by dubious ideology. He is bitterly at odds with Sergeant Dudley Smith—Irish émigré, ex-IRA killer, fledgling war profiteer. Hideo Ashida is a police chemist and the only Japanese on the L.A. cop payroll. Kay Lake is a twenty-one-year-old dilettante looking for adventure.

Everyman's Library

Fiction

The L.A. Quartet
Everyman’s Library Contemporary Classics Series The Black Dahlia depicts the secret infrastructure of L.A.’s most sensational murder case. A young cop morphs into obsessed lover and lust-crazed avenger. The Dahlia claims him. She is the deus ex machina of a boomtown in extremis. The cop’s rogue investigation is a one-way ticket to hell. The Big Nowhere blends the crime novel and the political novel. It is winter, 1950–and the L.A. County Grand Jury is out to slam movieland Reds.

Fiction

The Underworld U.S.A. Trilogy, Volume I
American Tabloid gives us Jack Kennedy’s ride, seen from an insider’s perspective. We’re there for the rigged 1960 election. We’re there for the Bay of Pigs fiasco. We’re the eyes and ears and souls of three rogue cops who’ve signed on for the ride and come to see Jack as their betrayer. We’re Jack’s pimps and hatchet men, and we’re there for that baroque slaying in Dallas. The Cold Six Thousand takes us from Dallas to Vietnam to Memphis to the kitchen of the Ambassador Hotel in L.

Fiction

The Underworld U.S.A. Trilogy, Volume II
Blood’s A Rover takes us into the seventies. MLK and RFK are dead. The Democratic National Convention in Chicago has spawned chaos. There’s a punk-kid private eye in L.A. He’s clashing with a mob goon and an enforcer for J. Edgar Hoover. There’s an armored-car heist and a cache of missing emeralds. There’s bad voodoo in the Dominican Republic and Haiti. Amidst it all is a revolutionary, Joan Rosen Klein. The kid P.

Underworld U.S.A. Trilogy

Fiction

Blood's a Rover
Martin Luther King assassinated. Robert Kennedy assassinated. Los Angeles, 1968. Conspiracy theories are taking hold. On the horizon looms the Democratic Convention in Chicago, and constant gun fire peppers south L.A. Violence, greed, and grime are replacing free love, and everybody from Howard Hughes, Richard Nixon and J. Edgar Hoover to right-wing assassins and left-wing revolutionaries is getting dirty. At the center of it all is a triumvirate: the president’s strong-arm goon, an ex-cop and heroin runner, and a private eye whose quarry is so dangerous she could set off the whole powder keg.

Fiction

The Cold Six Thousand
On November 22, 1963 three men converge in Dallas. Their job: to clean up the JFK hit’s loose ends and inconvenient witnesses. They are Wayne Tedrow Jr., a Las Vegas cop with family ties to the lunatic right; Ward J. Littell, a defrocked FBI man turned underworld mouthpiece; and Pete Bondurant, a doperunner and hitman who serves as the Mob’s emissary to the anti-Castro underground. It goes bad from there. For the next five years these night-riders run a whirlwind of plots and counter-plots: Howard Hughes’s takeover of Vegas, J.

Fiction

American Tabloid
Where the CIA, the Mob, J. Edgar Hoover, Howard Hughes, Jimmy Hoffa, Cuban political exiles, and various loose cannons conspire in a covert anarchy… Where the right drugs, the right amount of cash, the right murder, buys a moment of a man’s loyalty… Where three renegade law-enforcement officers—a former L.A. cop and two FBI agents—are shaping events with the virulence of their greed and hatred, riding full-blast shotgun into history…

L.A. Quartet

Fiction

White Jazz
Klein’s hung out as bait, “a bad cop to draw the heat,” and the heat’s coming from all sides: from local politicians, from LAPD brass, from racketeers and drug kingpins—all of them hell-bent on keeping their own secrets hidden. For Klein, “forty-two and going on dead,” it’s dues time. Klein tells his own story—his voice clipped, sharp, often as brutal as the events he’s describing—taking us with him on a journey through a world shaped by monstrous ambition, avarice, and perversion.

Fiction

The Big Nowhere
The characters: Danny Upshaw—a sheriff’s deputy stuck with a bunch of murders that nobody cares about. Mal Considine—DA’s Office brass, climbing on the Red Scare bandwagon to advance his own career. Buzz Meeks—bagman, ex-goon and pimp for Howard Hughes, a man who fights Communism for the money. All three have purchased tickets to a nightmare worse than their darkest dreams. “Stark, brutal, tender and powerful…a remarkably vivid portrait of a remarkable time and place.

Fiction

L.A. Confidential
A horrific mass murder invades the lives of victims and victimizers on both sides of the law—three cops treading quicksand in the middle. Detective Ed Exley wants glory. Haunted by his father’s success as a policeman, he will pay any price, break any law, to eclipse him. Detective Bud White watched his own father murder his mother. He is now bent on random vengeance, a time bomb with a badge.

Fiction

The Black Dahlia
In this fictionalized treatment of a real case, Bucky Bleichert and Lee Blanchard, both L.A. cops obsessed with the Black Dahlia, journey through the seamy underside of Hollywood to the core of the dead girl’s twisted life. “Passionate, violent, frustrating…imaginative and bizarre.” —Los Angeles Times “Building like a symphony, this is a wonderful, complicated, but accessible tale of ambition, insanity, passion and deceit.” —Publishers Weekly This fictionalized version of Hollywood’s most notorious murder case takes readers on a hellish journey through the movie capital and into a region of total madness.

Memoir

Nonfiction

The Hilliker Curse
The Hilliker Curse is a predator’s confession, a treatise on guilt and on the power of malediction, and above all, a cri de cœur. James Ellroy unsparingly describes his shattered childhood, his delinquent teens, his writing life, his love affairs and marriages, his nervous breakdown, and the beginning of a relationship with a woman who may just be the long-sought Her. A layered narrative of time and place, emotion and insight, sexuality and spiritual quest, The Hilliker Curse is a brilliant, soul-baring revelation of self.

Nonfiction

My Dark Places
In 1958 Jean Ellroy was murdered, her body dumped on a roadway in a seedy L.A. suburb. Her killer was never found, and the police dismissed her as a casualty of a cheap Saturday night. James Ellroy was ten when his mother died, and he spent the next thirty-six years running from her ghost and attempting to exorcize it through crime fiction. In 1994, Ellroy quit running. He went back to L.

Short Stories

Fiction

Hollywood Nocturnes
An ex-con raging on revenge in High Darktown becomes a cop’s worst nightmare. While chasing kidnappers, two cops stumble on an Okie town as bloody as the O.K. Corral. A strongarm for Howard Hughes and mobster Mickey Cohen finds himself playing both ends against the middle, all for a murderously magnificent moll. This is L.A., Ellroy-style—corrupt cops, goons with guns, rattling roadsters—and all in the staccato rhythm of the streets. Hollywood Nocturnes, a novella and five short stories, shows us the seedy side of glamorous Hollywood, laid out like a corpse in the morgue.

Journalism & Short Fiction

Nonfiction

LAPD '53
James Ellroy, the undisputed master of crime writing, has teamed up with the Los Angeles Police Museum to present a stunning text on 1953 L.A. While combing the museum’s photo archives, Ellroy discovered that the year featured a wide array of stark and unusual imagery—and he has written 25,000 words that illuminate the crimes and law enforcement of the era. Ellroy offers context, and layers on wild and rich atmosphere—this is the cauldron that was police work in the city of the tarnished angels more than six decades ago.

Fiction

Destination: Morgue!
A new book of scenes from America’s capital of kink: Los Angeles. Fourteen pieces, some fiction, some nonfiction, all true enough to be admissible as state’s evidence, and half of it in print for the first time. And every one of them bearing the James Ellroy brand of mayhem, machismo, and hollow-nose prose. Here are Mexican featherweights and unsolved-murder vics, crooked cops and a very clean D.A. Here is a profile of Hollywood’s latest celebrity perp-walker, Robert Blake, and three new novellas featuring a demented detective with an obsession with a Hollywood actress.

Fiction

Crime Wave
And no writer has mapped that field with greater savagery and savvy than James Ellroy. With this fever-hot collection of reportage and short fiction, he returns to his native habitat and portrays it as a smog-shrouded netherworld where “every third person is a peeper, prowler, pederast, or pimp.” From the scandal sheets of the 1950s to this morning’s police blotter, Ellroy reopens true crimes and restores human dimensions to their victims.

Early Novels

Fiction

Suicide Hill
In his obsessive mission to protect the innocent, there is no line he won’t cross. Estranged from his wife and daughters and on the verge of being fired for his transgressions, Hopkins is assigned to investigate a series of bloody bank robberies. As the violence escalates and the case becomes ever more vicious, Hopkins will be forced to cross the line once again to stop a maniac on a murder binge.

Fiction

Blood on the Moon
He’s a thinking-man’s cop with a dark past and an obsessive drive to hunt down monsters who prey on the innocent. Now there’s something haunting him. He sees a connection in a series of increasingly gruesome murders committed over a period of twenty years. To solve the case, Hopkins will ditch all the rules and risk his career to make the final link and get the killer.

Fiction

Because the Night
A hero cop is missing. A botched liquor-store heist leaves three grisly dead. Nobody could see a pattern in these two pieces of information–no one except Detective Sergeant Lloyd Hopkins, a brilliant and disturbed L.A. cop with an obsessive desire to protect the innocent. To him they lead to one horrifying conclusion—a killer is on the loose and preying on his city. From the master of L.A. noir comes this beautiful and brutal tale of a cop and a criminal squared off in a life-and-death struggle.

Fiction

Killer on the Road
One of the earliest serial-killer novels, and still one of the best, Killer on the Road is a character study, not the story of a manhunt. Martin Michael Plunkett has a genius intellect, a pitiless soul of brushed steel, and a heart of blackest evil. His criminal tendencies nurtured in a Los Angeles gripped by Manson Gang hysteria, he drifts to San Francisco, where he indulges savage impulses that show him his true vocation as a murderer.

Fiction

Clandestine
Fred Underhill is a young cop on the rise in Los Angeles in the early 1950s—a town blinded to its own grime by Hollywood glitter; a society nourished by newspaper lies that wants its heroes All-American and squeaky clean. A chance to lead on a possible serial killing is all it takes to fuel Underhill’s reckless ambition: it propels him into a dangerous alliance with certain mad and unstable elements of the law enforcement hierarchy.

Fiction

Brown's Requiem
A less-than-spotless former cop with a drinking problem, a private-eye-cum-repo man with a taste for great music, he has been known to wallow in the grime beneath the Hollywood glitter. But Brown’s life is about to change, thanks to a racist psycho who flashes too much cash for a golf caddie and who walked away clean from a multiple murder rap. Reopening this case could be Fritz’s redemption—his welcome back to a moral world and his path to a pure and perfect love.