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Blood's A Rover Hardcover – Deckle Edge, September 22, 2009

Book 3 of 3 in the Underworld USA Series

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Amazon Best of the Month, September 2009: James Ellroy's L.A. Quartet novels chronicled a cynic's take on Los Angeles cops and robbers, carving a dark and creepy nook for the author in the world of crime fiction. With Blood's a Rover, Ellroy completes his Underworld USA trilogy, an epic reinvention of American history, politics, and corruption. This book comes out firing: Ellroy's hipster prose--inimitable for its high style and spectacular energy--snaps and surges through more than 600 pages like black electricity, shocking the gentle reader from page one. Opening with a heist scene rendered as coldly violent as anything from Sam Peckinpah's most sociopathic fantasies, the story hurls itself across an improbable crazy quilt plot, including Howard Hughes's Vegas power-play, political abuses and machinations in Hoover's FBI, and the mob's ubiquitous shadow, darkening everything from JFK's assassination to Nixon's 1968 Presidential campaign. Another audacious effort from a one-of-a-kind talent, Blood's a Rover is thrilling and exhausting, a gloriously guilty pleasure. --Jon Foro

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Ellroy concludes the scorching trilogy begun with 1995's American Tabloid with a crushing bravura performance. As ever, his sentences are gems of concision, and his characters—many of whom readers will remember from The Cold Six Thousand and from American history classes—are a motley crew of grotesques often marked by an off-kilter sense of honor: stone bad-asses, in other words, though the women are stronger than the men who push the plot. The violence begins with an unsolved 1964 L.A. armored car heist that will come to have major repercussions later in the novel, as its effects ripple outward from a daring robbery into national and international affairs. There's Howard Hughes's takeover of Las Vegas, helped along by Wayne Tedrow Jr., who's working for the mob. The mob, meanwhile, is scouting casino locations in Central America and the Caribbean, and working to ensure Nixon defeats Humphrey in the 1968 election. Helping out is French-Corsican mercenary Mesplede, who first appeared in Tabloid as the shooter on the grassy knoll and who now takes under his wing Donald Crutchfield, an L.A. peeping Tom/wheelman (based, curiously, on a real-life private eye). Mesplede and Crutchfield eventually set up shop in the Dominican Republic, where the mob begins casino construction and Mesplede and Crutchfield run heroin from Haiti to raise money for their rogue nocturnal assaults on Cuba. In the middle and playing all sides against one another is FBI agent Dwight Holly, who has a direct line to a rapidly deteriorating J. Edgar Hoover (the old girl) and a tormented relationship with left-wing radical Karen Sitakis, and, later, Joan Klein, whose machinations bring the massive plot together and lead to more than one death. Though the book isn't without its faults (Crutchfield discovers a significant plot element because something told him to get out and look; Wayne's late-book transformation is too rushed), it's impossible not to read it with a sense of awe. The violence is as frequent as it is extreme, the treachery is tremendous, and the blending of cold ambition and colder political maneuvering is brazen, all of it filtered through diamond-cut prose. It's a stunning and crazy book that could only have been written by the premier lunatic of American letters. (Sept.)
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This Book Is Bound with "Deckle Edge" Paper
You may have noticed that some of our books are identified as "deckle edge" in the title. Deckle edge books are bound with pages that are made to resemble handmade paper by applying a frayed texture to the edges. Deckle edge is an ornamental feature designed to set certain titles apart from books with machine-cut pages. See a larger image.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 656 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; 1 edition (September 22, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679403930
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679403937
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.8 x 1.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (127 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #293,722 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

James Ellroy was born in Los Angeles in 1948. He is the author of the acclaimed L.A. Qurtet - The Black Dahlia, The Big Nowhere, LA Confidential and White Jazz, as well as the Underworld USA trilogy: American Tabloid, The Cold Six Thousand and Blood's a Rover. He is the author of one work of non-fiction, The Hilliker Curse: My Pursuit of Women. Ellroy lives in Los Angeles.

Customer Reviews

I also think the book was about 200 pages longer than it needed to be; it just went on and on and on.
Dennis M. Brown
Frankly, I spent so much time in the book that I don't want to go too deep into a review because I feel like I've spent enough of my life on this one.
30ips
James Ellroy is a masterful writer, I've read most of his novels that are filled with both fact and fiction.
M. Reid

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

67 of 75 people found the following review helpful By The Ginger Man VINE VOICE on September 24, 2009
Format: Hardcover
The Underworld USA trilogy began in 1995 with publication of American Tabloid and covered events in the early sixties. Five years passed before readers could dig into The Cold Six Thousand. Blood's a Rover (title taken from a poem by Houseman) begins shortly after the King and Kennedy assasinations in 1968 and takes us through the Chicago riots and Nixon's elections. Like previous entries, the book delivers an alternate, underground history of the partnership between Hoover's FBI and various criminal elements. Ellroy entices us through the looking glass to demonstrate the impact of that unsavory alliance on modern political history. Characters from previous books abound (Dwight Holley, Wayne Tedrow) as well as public figures both significant (Nixon, Howard Hughes) and obscure (Sal Mineo)

Ellroy's Hoover is not much concerned with organized crime. Instead he is obsessed with student protesters, civil rights demonstrators, non-existant domestic Reds, and any politician he believes to be aligned with these groups. In this dark world, former cop Wayne Tedrow meets with mob heads after a drop off of cash to candidate Nixon and notices on the wall, a photo showing one of the gangsters playing golf with Pope Pius.

The author's style is stacatto, high-adrenaline narrative alternating with newspaper headlines and supposed excerpts from personal journals. A chapter begins: "Dwight read files. A radio spritzed the news. Nixon and Humphrey grubbed for votes and see-sawed poll-wise. Jimmy Ray and Sirhan Sirhan fermented in custody." Using this approach, Ellroy packs a great deal of action and emotional impact into a few paragraphs. Over hundreds of pages, the result can be exhausting.
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46 of 53 people found the following review helpful By Stuart Neville on September 26, 2009
Format: Hardcover
First off, I'll admit some bias here. I'm a big Ellroy fan, and American Tabloid is neck-and-neck with Tom Wolfe's Bonfire of the Vanities for my favourite novel of all time. There appear to be a couple of Ellroy haters among the reviewers so far, and fair enough, he's a love-or-hate writer. If you don't like Ellroy, you won't like Blood's a Rover. If, like me, you do like Ellroy, then this book will fulfil yet confound your every expectation.

I won't bother with outlining the plot other than to say it's as tangled and propulsive as you'd expect from Ellroy. What some may want to know is how it compares to American Tabloid and The Cold Six Thousand. It's probably closer in tone to the former, lacking the latter's highly stylised presentation. It's a smoother read, in other words, but still requires some investment on the reader's part. That investment is rewarded many times over, however, and things barrel along at a wonderful page-turning rate.

There are two main distinctions between this and Ellroy's earlier work. The first is his portrayal of women. While there are some recognisable tics, such as the younger male characters' borderline oedipal fixations on older women, and a tendency for those same women to be physically or pschologically scarred, Ellroy this time gives his female characters more room to breathe and develop. They are more than objects of obsession there to torture the male characters.

The other difference is the heart of the piece; one could argue Ellroy's work perhaps lacked emotional depth, but not so with Blood's a Rover. Oddly for an author of his vintage, this is perhaps the most mature book of his career.

It's also his most personal novel since The Black Dahlia.
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37 of 44 people found the following review helpful By T. Karr VINE VOICE on September 28, 2009
Format: Hardcover
In this final installment of the "Underworld U.S.A." trilogy Wayne Tedrow, Dwight Holly and the boys are back carrying out their portion of an American history that might have been. They have their hands in the cover ups of the Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King assassinations, Howard Hughes' purchase of Vegas casinos, and the mob's Caribbean connections. And that's just for starters.

The plot loosely centers around an armored car heist in Los Angeles involving emeralds and millions of dollars. Holly, L.A. police officer Scotty Bennett, and a young wheelman named Donald "Peeper" Crutchfield are all trying to figure out the robbery (when they are not carrying out CIA directives, mob directives, or trying to figure out the mysterious women in their lives).

I really liked "American Tabloid." I loved "The Cold Six Thousand." I cannot say the same for "Blood's A Rover." This novel just doesn't quite have the energy level of the first two. It is an amazing piece of work, but there is just so much going on and there is just too much repetition. (How many times does the reader have to be told that a character is getting amped up to read through their heist files one more time? My guess is that I saw that scene played out at least a dozen times.)

The characters even seem somewhat repetitious. Despite varying backgrounds and ethnicities, they all have the same amazingly vast vocabularies for people who are essentially self-centered, schemers who are prone to extreme violence.

Really, I wanted to like "Blood's A Rover," but it is just okay. I can only recommend this novel to those who have read AND enjoyed "American Tabloid" and "The Cold Six Thousand."
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