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Blood's A Rover Hardcover – Deckle Edge, September 22, 2009
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This month's Book With Buzz: "Little Fires Everywhere" by Celeste Ng
From the bestselling author of Everything I Never Told You, a riveting novel that traces the intertwined fates of the picture - perfect Richardson family and the enigmatic mother and daughter who upend their lives. See more
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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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Top customer reviews
DIG IT: any bootlegger's son can become the President - assassination will automatically activate sanctification. Organized crime does not exist - but that never stopped it from running the country. And elections are not easy to fix - but in any case easier to fix than the World Series.
DOCUMENT INSERT: the most powerful man fighting Communism is a cross-dressing director with a wiretap fetish - morality standards and irony galore. Dominican Republic is the new location-location-location for blackjack-tables and chorus-line girls - if el Jefe can voodoo-hex the slaves from revolting. And Tricky Dick's price is 5 million - uncontrolled scatology at no extra charge.
CAREFUL NOW: infiltrate means collaborate; collaborate means condone; condone means finance; finance means plan; plan means precipitate - at which point did the investigation turn into instigation?
This is the third installment of the American-Underbelly trilogy (the masterpiece American Tabloid being the first and the excellent The Cold Six Thousand being the second). One does not necessarily have to read them in succession - but it surely helps. This is not an easy read, the story will serpent back and eat any one of its multiple tails, more than once. A second reading is recommended. And it will up the pixel-count of the images projected. In CinemaScope and Technicolor.
As the trilogy goes, this is the weakest of the three books, mostly because Ellroy hesitated in taking up major players with his brush painting the picture. Hoover and Nixon make cameo appearances - and sprinkles cannot be as filling as a square meal. I also missed the cool tabloid excerpts. The story is dark enough, some direct humor (even of the hush-hush kind) could be used.
Other than that, expect the familiar hard-boiled noir story. Where men are complicated and cruel yet witty and dames are desirable and decisive yet in constant distress. And no one is innocent.
There be time enough to sleep. For now, let James tell you (almost) everything.