Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The Genius of James Ellroy

Over the holidays and into the new year, I went on a James Ellroy tear, powering through almost his entire collection.  Many of the books were re-reads for me, but I was discovering new and brilliant things in each.  There are complex crime novels, and then there is Ellroy.  His plots are twisty and twisted and they snake back and forth until their inevitable and bloody conclusions.
Going through many of the books for the second time brought me a deeper appreciation of Ellroy and his unique talents.  From the first book of his LA Quartet (The Black Dahlia) through the second to last book of his Underworld USA trilogy, he is simply magnificent.  In that stretch (bearing in mind I still have to give Bloods a Rover a decent shot) he writes 1 for sure Pantheon novel (American Tabloid), two great novels that are borderline pantheon (The Cold Six Thousand, LA Confidential), two cusp of great novels (White Jazz and Dahlia) and a very good novel (The Big Nowhere).  Very few other crime writers can claim anywhere near that level of greatness.
Ellroy matches up against anyone, and I still have two novels of his to get through.  He is the one author who I delay reading to forestall getting to he end of his works.  All of his books are highly, highly recommended.
Also - Amazon's recently released series Bosch is really great! Surprisingly so, and the acting is brilliant (given that they use two awesome Wire actors AND he great Titus Welliver).  This show was well done because it remains tightly focused on a single case with two branches.  Hopefully future seasons will be equally as well constructed.

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