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James Ellroy

Author of The Black Dahlia

96+ Works 28,269 Members 430 Reviews 128 Favorited

About the Author

James Ellroy was born in Los Angeles in 1948. His L. A. Quartet novels - "The Black Dahlia", "The Big Nowhere", "L. A. Confidential", & "White Jazz" - were international best-sellers. His novel "American Tabloid" was Time magazine's Novel of the Year for 1995; his memoir, "My Dark Places", was a show more "Time" Best Book of the Year & a "New Yorker Times" Notable Book for 1996. He lives in Kansas City. (Publisher Provided) James Ellroy was born in Los Angeles, California on March 4, 1948. His parents were divorced and he moved in with his father after his mother was murdered in 1958. The story of his mother's unsolved murder would become the basis for his 1996 nonfiction work entitled My Dark Places. He attended Fairfax High School, where he sent Nazi pamphlets to girls he liked and criticized JFK, while advocating the reinstatement of slavery. He was eventually expelled for preaching Nazism in his English class. He joined the army after his expulsion from school, but after realizing that he did not belong there, he faked a stutter and convinced the army psychologist that he was not mentally fit for combat. After three months, he received a dishonorable discharge and returned home. His father died soon thereafter. He was thrown in juvenile hall for stealing a steak from the local market. When he got out, his father's friend became his guardian, but by the age of eighteen, he was back on the streets. He was sleeping outside, stealing, drinking and experimenting with drugs. It wasn't long before he was thrown in jail for breaking into a vacant apartment. When he got out of jail, he started a job at an adult book store, his addictions growing progressively larger. He was misusing the drug Benzedrex, a sinus inhalent which nearly drove him to Schizophrenia and his drinking was ruining his health. He contracted pneumonia twice as well as a condition called post-alchohol brain syndrome. Fearing for his sanity, he joined AA, became sober and found a job as a golf caddy. At the age of 30, he wrote his first novel entitled Brown's Requiem, which was published in 1981. His other works include Clandestine, Blood on the Moon, Because the Night, Suicide Hill, Killer on the Road, and The Cold Six Thousand. His works The Black Dahlia and L. A. Confidential were adapted into feature films. Ellroy's title, Perfidia, made the New York Times bestseller list in 2014. 030i show less
Image credit: Photo by Robert Birnbaum (courtesy of the photographer)


Works by James Ellroy

The Black Dahlia (1987) 5,496 copies
L. A. Confidential (1990) 3,418 copies
American Tabloid (1995) 2,856 copies
The Big Nowhere (1988) 1,985 copies
The Cold Six Thousand (2001) 1,860 copies
White Jazz (1992) 1,753 copies
My Dark Places (1996) 1,610 copies
Blood's a Rover (2009) 1,015 copies
Clandestine (1982) 778 copies
Brown's Requiem (1981) 706 copies
Perfidia (2014) 684 copies
Killer on the Road (1986) 608 copies
Hollywood Nocturnes (1994) 572 copies
Blood on the Moon (1984) 572 copies
L.A. Noir (1984) 451 copies
Because the Night (1984) 381 copies
The Best American Noir of the Century (2010) — Editor; Contributor — 370 copies
Suicide Hill (1986) 365 copies
This Storm (2019) 270 copies
The Best American Mystery Stories 2002 (2002) — Editor & Introduction — 159 copies
Widespread Panic (2021) 139 copies
The Best American Crime Writing 2005 (2005) — Editor — 112 copies
Gedumpt (1998) 70 copies
LAPD '53 (2015) 67 copies
The Enchanters (2023) 59 copies
Ricatto (2012) 41 copies
Tijuana, mon amour [SS] (1999) 38 copies
Jungletown Jihad [SS] (2003) 20 copies
Loco por Donna (2006) 14 copies
Grave Doubt [SS] (2002) 12 copies
Millennium thriller (2011) 5 copies
Panique générale (2022) 3 copies
Murder and Mayhem (1993) 3 copies
Erittäin salainen (2010) 2 copies
Gravy Train 2 copies
High Darktown 2 copies
Cronaca nera (2019) 2 copies
Fehér jazz (2013) 1 copy
Moja mracna mesta (2018) 1 copy
Six Years 1 copy
Storm, The 1 copy
Ola de crímenes (2001) 1 copy
Tabloid 1 copy
Jener Sturm: 2 (2020) 1 copy
O grande desconhecido (1993) 1 copy
Torch Number 1 copy

Associated Works

L.A. Confidential [1997 film] (1997) — Original novel — 389 copies
Hard-Boiled: An Anthology of American Crime Stories (1995) — Contributor — 184 copies
Granta 46: Crime (1994) — Contributor — 152 copies
The Dain Curse, The Glass Key, and Selected Stories (2007) — Introduction — 113 copies
The Badge (1958) — Introduction — 78 copies
L.A. Confidential: The Screenplay (1997) — Introduction — 72 copies
Pulp Fictions: Hardboiled Stories (1996) — Contributor — 70 copies
Scene of the Crime: Photographs from the LAPD Archive (1700) — Introduction — 61 copies
Street Kings [2008 film] (2008) — Writer — 48 copies


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Common Knowledge



Full disclosure, I was intermittently distracted while listening to this book. Nevertheless I tried and tried to get back into it and could not. DNF. The writing was good as far as the language and vocabulary (it is Ellroy!). I thought maybe a bit too much 1940's lingo. Some of the passages read like lists.
My other issue is that I like to have someone to root for and like in a novel. I found pretty much all these characters depraved and unlikeable. All with their own agendas and alot of interagency and interpersonal machinations and betrayals. The wartime racism was hard to handle at times.
I just could not get through the whole thing though I came close. Can't really recommend.
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jldarden | 5 other reviews | Jun 10, 2024 |
"I never knew her in life. She exists for me through others, in evidence of the ways her death drove them. Working backwards, seeking only facts."

So begins 'The Black Dahlia' , a novel loosely based upon a real case, the murder of Elizabeth Short that the press nicknamed the Black Dahlia. She was born in Boston in 1924 and was murdered in Los Angeles in 1947. Her case became famous because her body was horribly mutilated and is still unsolved. Ellroy uses the case as a basis to write a complex story of Los Angeles in the 1940s.

Dwight “Bucky” Bleichert, our narrator, is a former boxer and LAPD officer. Bucky is the son of a German immigrant who doesn’t hide his racist tendencies and during WWII agreed to give his Japanese neighbours up to keep his job with the LAPD. Lee Blanchard is another ex-boxer and LAPD officer famous for solving a hold-up case and then shacking up with the criminal’s girlfriend, Kay, after the trial.

As semi-famous former boxers, they are asked by their bosses to fight against each other to promote a bill that will increase the wages of all of LAPD's staff. They agree to it and the fight is highly publicized earning them the nicknamed 'Fire' and 'Ice'. After the bout they become patrol partners and they form a bond based upon mutual respect as well as a shared love of Kay. They find themselves attached to the taskforce dedicated to solving the Betty Short murder.

As Ellroy follows the thread of a murder investigation he also shows corruption and power politics prevalent in the LAPD, he takes pleasure in describing brothels, underground lesbian meeting points and seedy hotels. He describes the almost routine violence against suspects and police procedures, they will do almost anything to get a conviction. He also takes the reader to rich neighbourhoods where cruelty and ugliness is present behind polished manners, greed. sex and betrayal in a burgeoning city where aspiring actresses often live an existence of hopelessness prey for powerful men.

This novel is about friendship and obsession and how they can sometimes blind us to what is right in front of us. In some respects I found it a difficult book to read; the 'good guys' are corrupt, violent, drug-fuelled misogynists whilst the 'bad guys' hide their own vices behind a veneer of respectability. I realised very early on into this book that the real-life crime is still unsolved and was curious to discover if Ellroy would make his characters solve it, and was curious as to know what would happen to Bucky once it came to it's conclusion one way or the other. But whilst this is undoubtedly a powerful piece of writing that started really well I came away from it feeling somewhat short-changed. In the end I simply got fed up with all the gore and sleaze, whilst the final chapters was a rather bizarre kitsch noir. What was Bucky on?
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PilgrimJess | 131 other reviews | May 25, 2024 |
James Ellroy wrote this book in order for him to tell his own story about Elizabeth Short or The Black Dahlia. Elizabeth is found in a vacant lot in January 1947. She was mutilated, tortured, murdered, cut in half and dumped in the course of two horrendous days. Using real-life people, and some fictional characters, Ellroy has shown us what probably happened to Elizabeth Short, who was The Black Dahlia. The story is about two young policemen who become involved in the investigation of the Black Dahlia's murder, and it depicts how this event shaped and changed their lives. Both men become totally absorbed and the book shows how their lives were forever changed and sent spinning off the rails from this one horrific murder. When I read Ellroy's final words on the book, I found that he too, in his own way, was obsessed by the Dahlia, even though he was born just after she died. He explains that it was almost a parallel story of what actually happened to his own mother in the 1950's. The book is graphic and explicit, but at the same time it shows the strength and goodness that is in some people as opposed to the absolute derangement of others. It depicts the psychotic mind as well as or better than any other book I've read about this. This book is as noir as any book can get. It's full of obsessions, lies, psychoses, sex, torture and murder. For anyone with a queasy stomach, the book might be way too much to take. For me it was like climbing into a tub of bathtub gin, and not coming up for air until I finished the book. it actually wrung me out, but I kept turning pages. No one does crime like James Ellroy, and nobody does it with so explicitly, and with so much aplomb. In a James Ellroy world, just about anything is possible, and the tension does not leave until the very end of the book. So expect the unexpected, be prepared for some pretty horrific scenarios, get angry and frustrated with the main characters, and fall into the world of post-war LA.… (more)
Romonko | 131 other reviews | May 3, 2024 |
Brown's Requiem by James Ellroy

-Print: Available – (Bib info from Amazon website) COPYRIGHT: Avon Books 1/1/1981, Vintage Books 2021; ISBN-13: 978-0-593-31221-6; PUBLISHER: Avon Books; Vintage Books; LENGTH: 256 pgs.
-Digital: (Bib info from Amazon website) COPYRIGHT: Vintage (February 16, 2021) ([Kindle]; PUBLISHER: Vintage; FILE 1743 KB
*Audio: (Info from Libby) COPYRIGHT: 4-June-2012; PUBLISHER: Books on Tape; DURATION: approx. 9 hours; Unabridged (LAPL MP3)
-Feature Film or tv: 1998 Feature Film starring Michael Rooker, Selma Blair, Kevin Corrigan.

SERIES: Mysterious Press-Highbridge Audio Classics

CHARACTERS: (Not comprehensive)
-Fritz Brown -Protagonist; Former LA Police; Private Investigtor
-Cal Myers – Car salesman
-Freddy (Fat Dog) Baker - Client
-Jane Baker – Freddy’s sister
-Sol Kupferman – Jane’s housemate

-Selection: Don (husband) and I attended a panel at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books (4/22/2023, USC) consisting of Michael Connelly and James Ellroy. We were there to listen to Michael Connelly, not realizing his role was as interviewer. We were surprised at what we judged to be a turn of events, with the focus on Mr. Ellroy and his receipt the previous evening at this event of the "Robert Kirsch Award" for lifetime achievement; "an award presented to writers whose focal point centers in on the American West" (Variety website).
As we listened, we eventually learned that this fellow had written the “Black Dahlia” and other novels with equally recognizable titles. Our desire to discover another good author was piqued, all-be-it, warry.
This fellow is quite a character, unashamed of vulgar gestures to demonstrate, rather than say, that someone is full of themselves, and full of raunchy, sometimes poetically strung, profanity. He seems to be someone who enjoys getting a rise out of folks.
We were surprised to discover that, much of the audience was actually there for this author so we decided we should try at least one novel. I’m a stickler for starting at the beginning. It’s probably unfortunate, being that an author’s first novel isn’t always their best. In fact, Don had read an article that recommended a particular order, starting with the "Black Danube", and stating that the 7 preceding novels werenot much more than the author developing his skill. It was tempting to start with one we were familiar with that was bound to be good, but the stickler in me won out and we started with this, his first one.
-About: A former cop whose become a Private Investigator with a side business of repossessing cars for a car dealer, gets hired, by an odd character, to investigate the gentleman that his sister is living with.
-Liked: Well-developed characters; likeable protagonist; interesting plot; learned a bit about caddying—like, that it’s also called “looping” (From Liveabout dotcom: “in golf, "looper" is another term for a caddie, "loop" is another term for a round of golf and "looping" is another term for caddying.”)
-Disliked: Did people still say “Daddy-O” in the 80’s? That and some other corny vernacular that sounded more 60’s—and maybe that was supposed to be the time-frame. I don’t think a time-frame was ever mentioned. It didn’t really bother me, I just questioned it.
-Overall: My husband and I liked it enough to be interested in reading more from this author. I’m not positive we’ll stick to the chronological order. I’m thinking if his writing develops in an objectionable direction, we’ll skip to the ones we’re familiar with as movies. But so far, we find the author readable.

Lee Earle “James” Ellroy:
(Excerpt from Wikipedia): “Lee Earle "James" Ellroy (born March 4, 1948) is an American crime fiction writer and essayist. Ellroy has become known for a telegrammatic prose style in his most recent work, wherein he frequently omits connecting words and uses only short, staccato sentences,[2] and in particular for the novels The Black Dahlia (1987), The Big Nowhere (1988), L.A. Confidential (1990), White Jazz (1992), American Tabloid (1995), The Cold Six Thousand (2001), and Blood's a Rover (2009).”

R. C. Bray
(Excerpt from Wikipedia) “R. C. Bray (born July 28, 1977 in Chicago) is an American producer and voice actor known for over 250 audiobooks, an Audie Award, Earphones Awards, and Voice Arts Awards winner, Off-Broadway and Edinburgh Fringe Festival performer, and TV and radio commercial narrator.[5][6]”
-I’ve heard this narrator before with Andy Weir’s “The Martian”, he’s very good.

GENRE: Thriller; Fiction; Noir; Detective; Crime

SUBJECTS: Repossessing vehicles; Caddies; Golf Clubs; Crime; Classical music; Arson; Antisemitism; Bigotry; Private Investigation; Corruption; Pornography

LOCATIONS: Los Angeles, California; Tijuana, Mexico

DEDICATION: “To Randy Rice”

EXCERPT: From: “Chapter 1”
“Business was good. It was the same thing every summer. The smog and heat rolled in, blanketing the basin; people succumbed to torpor and malaise; old resolves died; old commitments went unheeded. And I profited: my desk was covere4d with repo orders, ranging in make and model from Datsun Sedan to Eldorado Ragtop, and in territory from Watts to Pacoima. Sitting at my desk, listening to the Beethoven Violin Concerto and drinking my third cup of coffee, I calculated my fees, less expenses. I sighed and blessed Cal Myers and his paranoia and greed. Our association dates back to my days with Hollywood Vice, when we were both in trouble and I did him a big favor. Now, years later, his guilty nobless oblige supports me in something like middle-class splendor, tax-free.
Our arrangement is simple, and a splendid hedge against inflation: Cal's down payments are the lowest in L.A., and his monthly payments the highest. My fee for a repossession is the sum of the owner's monthly whip-out. For this Cal gets the dubious satisfaction of having a licensed private investigator do his rip-offs, and implicit silence on my part regarding all his past activities. He shouldn't worry. I would never rat on him for anything, under any circumstances. Still, he does. We never talk about these things; our relationship is largely elliptical. When I was on the sauce, he felt he had the upper hand, but now that I'm sober he accords me more intelligence and cunningness than I possess.
I surveyed the figures on my scratch pad: eleven cars, a total of $1,881.00 in monthlies, less 20 percent or $376.20 for my driver. $1,504.80 for me. Things looked good. I took the record off the turntable, dusted it carefully, and replaced it in its sleeve. I looked at the Joseph Karl Stieler print on my living room wall: Beethoven, the greatest musician of all time, scowling, pen in hand, composing the Missa Solemnis, his face alight with inward heroism.
I called Irwin, my driver, and told him to meet me at my place in an hour and to bring coffee--there was work on the line. He was grumpy until I mentioned money. I hung up and looked out my window. It was getting light. Hollywood, below me, was filling up with hazy sunshine. I felt a slight tremor: part caffein, part Beethoven, part a last passage of night air. I felt my life was going to change.”

4 stars

4/29/23 to 5/4/23
… (more)
TraSea | 14 other reviews | Apr 29, 2024 |


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Otto Penzler Series Editor, Editor, Narrator
Thomas H. Cook Contributor, Series Editor
Brendan DuBois Contributor
Scott Wolven Contributor
Joyce Carol Oates Contributor
F. X. Toole Contributor
Art Cooper Introduction
James M. Cain Contributor
James Lee Burke Contributor
Charles Beaumont Contributor
Dennis Lehane Contributor
Dorothy B. Hughes Contributor
Jeffrey Deaver Contributor
Christopher Coake Contributor
Elmore Leonard Contributor
Gil Brewer Contributor
Steve Fisher Contributor
Mickey Spillane Contributor
Howard Browne Contributor
Tod Robbins Contributor
Evan Hunter Contributor
Harlan Ellison Contributor
William Gay Contributor
Lawrence Block Contributor
Tom Franklin Contributor
Ed Gorman Contributor
Bradford Morrow Contributor
Cornell Woolrich Contributor
Lorenzo Carcaterra Contributor
James Crumley Contributor
James W. Hall Contributor
MacKinlay Kantor Contributor
David Goodis Contributor
David Morrell Contributor
Day Keene Contributor
Stephen Greenleaf Contributor
Andrew Klavan Contributor
Chris Adrian Contributor
Jim Thompson Contributor
Patricia Highsmith Contributor
Joe Gores Contributor
Stuart M. Kaminsky Contributor
Robert B. Parker Contributor
Daniel Waterman Contributor
Clark Howard Contributor
Michael Malone Contributor
Michael Connelly Contributor
Fred Melton Contributor
Sean Doolittle Contributor
Joe R. Lansdale Contributor
Annette Meyers Contributor
James Grady Contributor
John Biguenet Contributor
Michael Downs Contributor
Robert Draper Contributor
Stephen J. Dubner Contributor
Eric Conger Narrator
Don Leslie Narrator
Oliver Wyman Narrator
Carlo Oliva Translator
Ronald Vlek Translator
Craig Wasson Narrator
Stephen Peringer Cover artist
Lourenço Mutarelli Cover artist
Luciano Lorenzin Translator
Marco Pensante Translator
Carlos Gardini Translator
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Thomas Preis Translator
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Martin Dieckmann Übersetzer
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