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Blood's a Rover

by James Ellroy

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Underworld USA (3)

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9992320,419 (3.8)35
Summer, 1968. Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy are dead. The assassination conspiracies have begun to unravel. A dirty-tricks squad is getting ready to deploy at the Democratic Convention in Chicago. Black militants are warring in southside L.A. The Feds are concocting draconian countermeasures. And fate has placed three men at the vortex of history. A stand-alone sequel to The Cold Six Thousand.… (more)
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» See also 35 mentions

English (15)  French (2)  Dutch (2)  German (1)  Catalan (1)  Italian (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (23)
Showing 1-5 of 15 (next | show all)
Fairly disappointing Ellroy. Still an exhilirating ride, but the pay-off was very unsatisfying. This is the conclusion to his American Tabloid trilogy. The first part was based around the assassination of JFK, and the second around those of Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King. Ellroy, justifiably, decided not to cover the Watergate scandal in the third volume, but that left no comparable historic events to anchor this book, making it feel a far less significant work. This sadly drags down the two preceding tomes by association and leads to the question of whether he should have bothered making the series into a trilogy.

All of the major mysteries - set up in the early part of the book, and driving much of the plot throughout - fizzle out into perfunctory and largely unbelievable (even by Ellroy standards) conclusions. It really felt like he hadn't plotted the book fully enough and ended up writing himself into a corner. If he had been using them just to drive along the plot he really shouldn't have built them up so much.

It's a shame, because the Ellroy roller-coaster or misanthropy does still deliver. And he has curbed some of his more annoying tics, while maintaining his kinetic, punchy prose. His conflicted and compromised anti-heroes are still compelling (although his propensity to kill his characters off - while admirably shocking - does mean that you feel seen his archetypes several times before), and the hallucinatory passages, particularly in Haiti, are immersive. He still delivers a convincing vision of a familiar world refracted through a prism of violence, fear and hate. Perhaps best of all, he introduces a young and ingenuous (as far as an Ellroy character can be) character that seems to have a lot of the young and wayward Ellroy, and hence feels particularly believable. I would like to read more about him.

Unfortunately, by the end of what should have been the crowning work of an impressive and challenging trilogy, I felt that Ellroy had over-indulged himself, and perhaps believed his own hype a little too much.
( )
  thisisstephenbetts | Nov 25, 2023 |
Found this secondhand and hadn't read the previous two books, so I was a bit lost at first, but this still definitely works as a standalone novel. Can't really say much more without having read the rest of the trilogy, but to my mind this was very different to the Ellroy I've read before, with a lot more in the way of international intrigue, conspiracy, sorcery and general political skullduggery, whilst still oozing noir attitude and immersing you in the dank underbellies of the cities it's set in - primarily LA, but there are some more exotic locales as well.

Might shock or open a few wounds for some readers, given its basis in modern history and its utter refusal to pull any punches as far as I could see, but for those who can stomach all that it's an interesting read on multiple levels. ( )
  Styok | Aug 25, 2022 |
Not for the fainthearted. Brutal but pretty damn great. ( )
  JasonChambers | Dec 16, 2021 |
This is the third part of the Underworld USA trilogy. At first it was again a summary of all the protagonists, before it was about Nixon's campaign on the one hand, but also about how Hoover clings to his position with all the tricks. It is about drugs, gang wars, money laundering and shows once again how corrupt the police and various secret services are. In doing so, their peers fight to the blood and go over dead bodies.
Once again it was extremely interesting. ( )
  Ameise1 | Apr 19, 2020 |
3 stars: for story with only splatters of plot
-1: for going on and on and on with only splatters of plot
1: for a cool LA Noir, lingo of the age the street

( )
  GirlMeetsTractor | Mar 22, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 15 (next | show all)
This is lurid material treated luridly, but with beauty and heft.
 
If this sounds confusing, it's also classic noir, which isn't about plot so much as drawing the reader into an entire world—from Communist Cuba to the seedy underbelly of Vegas.
 
The prose has calmed down, too; it’s gone off the caffeine. It needed to—Blood’s a Rover is a more thoughtful, searching book than its predecessors.
 
Ellroy's bleak, brooding worldview, his dense, demanding style and his unflinching descriptions of extreme violence will almost certainly alienate large numbers of readers. But anyone who succumbs to the sheer tidal force of these novels will experience something darker, stranger and more compelling than almost anything else contemporary fiction has to offer.
 
In "Blood's a Rover," sleaze and skullduggery and dread drip off every page, and Ellroy has built both a myth and a monument. It'll blow your mind. From the gutter to the stars.
 

» Add other authors (4 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
James Ellroyprimary authorall editionscalculated
Costigliola, GiuseppeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vlek, RonaldTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wasson, CraigNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Clay lies still, but blood's a rover;
Breath's a ware that will not keep.
Up, lad: when the journey's over
There'll be time enough for sleep.
A. E. Housman
Dedication
To
J.M.
Comrade: For Everything You Gave Me
First words
HEROIN: He'd rigged a lab in his hotel suite. Beakers, vats and Bunsen burners filled up wall shelves. A three-burner hot plate juked small-batch conversions. He was cooking painkiller-grade product. He hadn't cooked dope since Saigon.
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Summer, 1968. Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy are dead. The assassination conspiracies have begun to unravel. A dirty-tricks squad is getting ready to deploy at the Democratic Convention in Chicago. Black militants are warring in southside L.A. The Feds are concocting draconian countermeasures. And fate has placed three men at the vortex of history. A stand-alone sequel to The Cold Six Thousand.

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