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L.A. Noir Hardcover – June, 1998


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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

In the introduction to L.A. Noir, a collection of three contemporary cop thrillers originally published in the early '80s, James Ellroy confesses his desire to match the suspense and terror of Thomas Harris's groundbreaking novel Red Dragon and to create a detective as compelling and as complex as Harris's Will Graham. His attempts to fulfill that desire introduce readers to Detective Sergeant Lloyd Hopkins, a brilliantly flawed hero of sorts whom Ellroy describes as his "antidote to the sensitive candy-assed philosophizing private eye."

Written before Hannibal Lecter made his first appearance in print, before serial killer fiction had become a subgenre, Blood on the Moon, the first novel of the L.A. Noir trilogy, pits the racist, reactionary, sexually obsessed Hopkins against a sexually motivated serial killer whose intelligence and capacity for brutality match the detective's own. In Because the Night, the second book in the trilogy, Hopkins once again confronts psychotic evil, this time while investigating the possible connection between a multiple homicide and the disappearance of a fellow cop. The trilogy concludes with Suicide Hill, a manhunt-thriller in which Hopkins tracks down a kidnapper and discovers among his colleagues a complex web of power, corruption, and lies.

Suspenseful, stark, and startling, the novels of the L.A. Noir trilogy exhibit the seminal hallmarks of Ellroy's taut, haunting prose. His dark and disturbing portrait of Hopkins, a thoroughly unlikable protagonist, drives the novels with unrelenting force, taking readers down paths of they might not really want to explore. Readers seeking a protagonist they can identify with, a hero they can like, probably won't find much to recommend in L.A. Noir, but Ellroy never meant Hopkins to be a likable hero. Instead, he has created what he calls "a complex monument to a basically shitty guy," and in doing so he laid the groundwork for the novels that have earned him a seat at the table of truly great crime novelists. In all, L.A. Noir offers Ellroy's admirers a chance to look back a few years and see the primitive intimations of the style and substance that would later characterize his L.A. Quartet series, but it is no primer for beginners, who might be more readily wooed by the more refined tension and complexity of his later novels. --L.A. Smith

Review

"The most distinctive crime writer of his generation" John Williams, Sunday Times "Ellroy is the author of some of the most powerful crime novels ever written" Frank Rich, New York Times "The most original crime writer of our time" Michael Carlson, Spectator "One of the best and most important writers in America today" VOX "Ellroy has produced some of the best crime fiction written this century, Hammett and Chandler included" Chris Sullivan, Loaded --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 644 pages
  • Publisher: Warner Books (June 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0892966866
  • ISBN-13: 978-0892966868
  • Product Dimensions: 2 x 6.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #959,243 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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

3.6 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Deborah Hogg on December 6, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Anyone who knows the slightest thing about James Ellroy should realise that this early trilogy was a process of evolution for the stunning writer of truly wonderful fiction like American Tabloid. OK it's not as densely plotted but therein lies the magnificence of this trilogy. It's still expertly crafted and immensely readable. I read Blood on the Moon in one whirlwind of a day. Enjoy the ride Ellroy takes you on and don't concern yourself with meaningless comparisons with his later work. Love Lloyd Hopkins as you surely should. It's still in a league of it's own as far as your average crime writing goes.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 22, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I read a lot of crime fiction, and nobody does what Ellroy does.Forget the fact that these are early Ellroy works. Forget the fact that they tale place in a different era than those visited in his more popular books (40's - 50's - 60's), that being the 1980's. Just groove on Ellroy's caffeinated prose and bask in the glory of its radiance!
I love that these books take place in the '80's. When you read other Ellroys you wonder what his take on the "modern world" would be. I found it just as relentless and glorious as the other time periods used in his later novels. Ellroy was writing these at the same time Brett Easton Ellis was writing Less Than Zero, the same time that the movie To Live and Die in L.A. appeared in theatres. This is a time and place in American history with tremendous dramatic literary potential. The fact that Ellroy's characters and story lines could exist in the 40's, 50's or 60's, with bourbon and jazz replacing cocaine and punk is a testement to Ellroy's undeniable brilliance.
And Lloyd Hopkins, the hero of these novels? He lacks the charm of a Spenser or Carella, posesses the demons and frailties of a Robicheaux or Scudder, but is still an Ellroy original. Love him or hate him while you read these books, but I guarantee you'll miss him when you're done.
Read L.A. Confidential or American Tabloid for the best Ellroy there is. Read L.A. Noir and just enjoy Ellroy.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By John E. Davidson on May 10, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I am a huge James Ellroy fan - having read almost all of his work - and while this trilogy is good, it is far from his best work. For example American Tabloid, LA Confidential and Black Dahlia are all much better.

If you are not familiar with James Ellroy it is worth noting that his prose style does not find universal favour. He writes in very short, punchy sentences - personally I find it an effective and entertaining style but it does irritate others.

It is interesting to note that in his introduction Ellroy claims that he wrote the second and third parts of the trilogy because after completing the first part he read Red Dragon by Thomas Harris which he acknowledges as a far superior book and felt he need to do better. On one level he is correct, Red Dragon is a superior book and Will Graham is a superior and more interesting 'hero'. However, he is harsh on himself - these are still very good books.

As is usual in Ellroy novels he concentrates on the psychological motivation of the main characters (sometimes, slightly simplistically, tying the whole personality back to a defining moment from childhood). Ellroy has the skill to carry this off and it works well (although he does flirt with caricature).

Overall, very good and certainly well worth reading although, in my opinion, not the place to start if you are new to Ellroy
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Stephen McLeod on August 31, 2000
Format: Hardcover
First: Ellroy is the greatest living American writer. Second: I'm sorry to report that this collection of early novels was a big disappointment. If you haven't read him, I wouldn't recommend starting here. As the man himself might put it, "it didn't jazz me." In fact, I put it down after reading the whole of *Blood on the Moon* (the first of these three), and trudging half-way through *Because the Night* (number two). The biggest problem is that it's not really "noir." The prose is weak, predictable, numbingly repetetive and overwrought. It reads much more like the kind of massmarket, serial-killer fiction that clutter the tables of New York City street salesmen (think *Hannibal*) than Ellroy's great masterpieces (every novel after and including *The Black Dahlia*). Much of the prose is downright annoying (how many ways can he use the word "picayune"?).
Although there are glimpses of the darkness and passion that Ellroy would perfect in his later novels, I can't recommend shelling out for the hardcover. If you must, you must. Hey, I know what it's like: I'm an Ellroy addict, and I know how it is to "jones" for his pitiless, high octane vision. This isn't it. Alas.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Mark Kawakami on June 22, 1998
Format: Hardcover
Expecting the brillinace of 'The Black Dahlia', 'L.A. Confidential' or 'American Tabloid'? Well tough, buddy, you're not gonna get it! But you should read it anyways. Why? Cause the promising newcomer that wrote 'Brown's Requiem' had to evolve into the Big Boogaloo that wrote 'Dahlia' somehow, and these three novels show you pretty much the path he took. The first one is pure macho hero-worship with Ellroy writing about a brilliant, 'sex-obsessed' cop tracking a monster. Second, same, but the monster there rocks. Then the third, and Ellroy's hero is less brilliant, and he shows his new discovery: 'Macho' = 'Fear' = 'B.S.'. Book one is by the guy that wrote 'Requiem', book three is by the guy that wrote 'Dahlia'. If you're a fan, its like the proud moment when a baby learns its first swear word.
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