The Big Nowhere

The Big Nowhere - James Ellroy Communist witchhunts, B-movie studio westerns, South Central jazz, Hollywood labor union strikes, Mickey Cohen and his feud with Jack Dragna, queer sex orgies at the Chateau Marmont, Howard Hughes and his penchant for underage girls and crashing airplanes, friction between the LAPD and the LA County Sheriffs, the Sleepy Lagoon murder and the Zoot Suit Riots, and a sick serial killer that disembowels his homosexual victims by biting into them with animal teeth.

This loaded novel is about all that and more, and skillfully stuffed into a dense and thrilling 400+ pages! This book is really something special and James Ellroy is a writer with impressive skill and a great attention to detail. He mixes hard-boiled noir, a complex police procedural, and historical fiction into a stunning story, painting a vivid picture of Los Angeles in 1950, and mixing fictional characters with real life events the way Dennis Lehane does in [b:The Given Day|2830067|The Given Day (Coughlin #1)|Dennis Lehane||2856172] and HBO does with many of their shows, like Boardwalk Empire, Rome, and Deadwood.

With such complex and detailed plot lines as well as the book's colorful prose, characterization could have totally been left to the wayside. But Ellroy spends just as much time developing the entire cast of complex colorful characters, especially the three leads. The novel follows three law enforcement officers (an LA County Deputy Sheriff, a DA investigator, and a former crooked LAPD officer turned Howard Hughes pimp and bagman) as they get thrown into a grand jury probe against Communist influence in Hollywood as well as an investigation of a series of grisly serial murders. Each man has something to lose, something to hide, and in time, something to fight for. They're complex, you root for them at times and then despise them the next. And Ellroy expertly brings their separate stories together in a web of gripping mystery and tragedy.

I love my new home of Los Angeles and I have a fascination with old Tinseltown history and conspiracy, so one would wonder why I took so long to start reading James Ellroy novels. But no worries, with just this book, I'm now on the Ellroy train, and here for the long haul.