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From "one of the great American writers of our time" (Los Angeles Times Book Review)--a brilliant historical crime novel, a pulse-pounding, as-it-happens narrative that unfolds in Los Angeles and Mexico in the wake in Pearl Harbor.

New Year's Eve 1941, war has been declared and the Japanese internment is in full swing. Los Angeles is gripped by war fever and racial hatred. Sergeant Dudley Smith of the Los Angeles Police Department is now Army Captain Smith and a budding war profiteer. He's shacked up with Claire De Haven in Baja, Mexico, and spends his time sniffing out fifth column elements and hunting down a missing Japanese Naval Attaché. Hideo Ashida is cashing LAPD paychecks and working in the crime lab, but he knows he can't avoid internment forever. Newly arrived Navy Lieutenant Joan Conville winds up in jail accused of vehicular homicide, but Captain William H. Parker squashes the charges and puts her on Ashida's team. Elmer Jackson, who is assigned to the alien squad and to bodyguard Ashida, begins to develop an obsession with Kay Lake, the unconsummated object of Captain Parker's desire. Now, Conville and Ashida become obsessed with finding the identity of a body discovered in a mudslide. It's a murder victim linked to an unsolved gold heist from '31, and they want the gold. And things really heat up when two detectives are found murdered in a notorious dope fiend hang-out.

591 pages, Hardcover

First published June 4, 2019

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About the author

James Ellroy

127 books3,709 followers
James Ellroy was born in Los Angeles in 1948. His L.A. Quartet novels—The Black Dahlia, The Big Nowhere, L.A. Confidential, and White Jazz—were international best sellers. His novel American Tabloid was Time magazine’s Best Book (fiction) of 1995; his memoir, My Dark Places, was a Time Best Book of the Year and a New York Times Notable Book for 1996. His novel The Cold Six Thousand was a New York Times Notable Book and a Los Angeles Times Best Book for 2001. Ellroy lives in Los Angeles.

Ellroy is known for a "telegraphic" writing style, which omits words other writers would consider necessary, and often features sentence fragments. His books are noted for their dark humor and depiction of American authoritarianism. Other hallmarks of his work include dense plotting and a relentlessly pessimistic worldview. Ellroy has been called the "Demon Dog of American crime fiction."

See also http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0255278/

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 302 reviews
Profile Image for David C Ward.
1,533 reviews24 followers
May 1, 2020
Elroy has fallen in love with his style at the expense of narrative and coherence, to say nothing of economy. That style combines overly mannered fastidiousness and arcane usages with manic bebop hipster wooo-wooo. This one connects an old gold robbery with war frenzy even as Nazis and Stalinists combine to prepare for the post war world using said gold. The plot is impenetrable and incomprehensible (with incredible levels of violence) albeit recounted in micro detail because no one knows what’s going on - including the author! As a character says during the drawn out ending, “This deal has never made sense, and it never will. There’s too much to it, and it goes back too far.” Yup!

Also: Orson Welles wasn’t fat in 1941, the year of Citizen Kane.
Profile Image for Ronald Koltnow.
532 reviews14 followers
November 28, 2020
To be published by Alfred A. Knopf on 4 June 2019
When PERFIDIA, the first volume of James Ellroy's second L.A. Quartet, came out, I said: "Volume Two promises to be more profane; I can't wait." I was right. A friend did not like PERFIDIA; he said it read like someone doing a parody of Ellroy. He may have missed the point. Ellroy is no longer a crime writer; he has become a fabulist. His most recent books are wild fandangoes on American society in the post-war world. This book deals with the early days of WWII in L. A. A fugitive rapist, Fifth Columnists, and a rain-exhumed body in Griffith Park get the action rolling. Three separate investigations dovetail into one. Two groups of detectives, one led by the morally flexible Dudley Smith, the other by the tortured Catholic Wm Parker, beat, screw, and kill their way across the greater Southern California landscape. Ellroy's theme is stated late in the book; "We are all treading water in quicksand." Some, Ellroy tells us, carry their quicksand inside themselves. These are conflicted characters with divided loyalties. Parts are laugh-out-loud funny, parts are overblown, yet you get drawn into the lives of characters and cannot wait to see what slip of the tongue (quite literally in one case) will cause enlightenment or mayhem. In order to fully appreciate the book, you should reread PERFIDIA and the first Quartet again. Characters and events weave in and out of all the books. Fortunately, a list of Dramatis Personae is included at the back of the book. Real life characters pop in and out and deal with the fictional ones. Like all of Ellroy's books, there is a thread of redemption that runs through the wild fantasy of violence. It is profane, insensitive, partially obscene, and delirious. Vintage Ellroy? No. A wild new direction? Si.
Profile Image for Jake.
1,707 reviews52 followers
June 20, 2019
I met James Ellroy when purchasing this book at a book signing. I was nervous, having heard plenty of stories about his uncouth behavior in public. But he was actually quite nice and gracious with his time. It seems to me that once he rides out his initial wave of anxiety and gets comfortable in a situation, he’s fine. Both of us being Lutheran, we joked about the great Martin Luther; he of course appreciating Luther’s vulgarity towards the Pope.

Ellroy makes it clear that he lives in the past. He lives a monastic existence of no TV or much external stimuli, save books. For him, human history ended in 1972 and World War II is forever going on. Don’t ask his opinions on Donald Trump and modern politics.

All that to say, it is tempting to look at This Storm, which traffics at length in fifth column and saboteur plots, as a screed on current events. But that’s not Ellroy and it never will be. For good and for ill. Ellroy is less concerned about what’s going on in the present than how the past impacted America.

To this extent, he does a decent job. His characters frequently mingle with aspiring fascists and Nazi sympathizers. Ellroy’s books are basically about the horrors you see once you lift the curtain from the American facade and nowhere in our cultural history has that stage been more beautifully dressed than WWII. There are no heroes here; everyone’s an enemy and everyone’s out to screw each other, both in a sexual and non-sexual way. It’s typical Ellroy.

But that’s also the driving problem with the book. I’ve read this story so many times, especially in the Underworld USA trilogy. Ellroy seems to be trying to fuse that with his LA Quartet with these books. But they read like an author who has run out of creative ways to tell this story. Bringing back all the old favorites makes the book feel uninspired, unlike say Perfidia, which introduced us to the great Hideo Ashida and gave the anti-Japanese sentiment of immediate post-Pearl Harbor LA feel real and earned. It’s impossible to latch onto any of the characters or care much about their circumstances, especially the implacable Dudley Smith, Ellroy’s personal Randall Flagg. This book is more of a mess than most of his and the deeper it goes, the less interested I was.

Also, I was disappointed at how poorly Ellroy covered wartime LA. Maybe this felt under done because so much of the book was focused in Mexico as well but LA is usually a staple in his books and with few exceptions, this felt like the characters were scampering around in a studio backlot designed to simulate LA.

The brilliant dialogue is still there and if it were my first Ellroy, I’d see it as a novelty. But now…eh. I was just glad to finish it.
Profile Image for William.
676 reviews336 followers
Want to read
May 31, 2019
I met with both the extraordinary Joseph Knox and the legendary James Ellroy last Tuesday 28 May 2019 up in Manchester at what I now call the "Mount Olympus" Waterstones bookshop.

Full size image here

Profile Image for Ubik 2.0.
938 reviews232 followers
July 17, 2020
“Quando compongo devo immergermi nell’umore che la musica tenta di esprimere. Qui abbiamo il caos…” (Otto Kemperer)

Soltanto poche pagine e ci troviamo catapultati e immersi nell’allucinato e tentacolare universo infernale di James Ellroy. Lasciate ogni speranza, voi che entrate, che la prosa, gli eventi, lo stile, più avanti si ammorbidiscano e che non sia possibile, per lo scrittore e per il lettore, mantenere questi ritmi forsennati per tutte le oltre 800 pagine del libro.

Forse ancor più delle precedenti prove, l’accelerazione e la conseguente confusione ed accumulo dei paesaggi urbani losangelini (strade, locali notturni, motel, centrali del LAPD) e dei loro abitanti (nomi, ruoli, dipendenze, perversioni, orribili atrocità emergenti dal passato), si fanno sempre più insostenibili e sopportabili ai personaggi solo grazie al ricorso ad ogni sorta di additivi chimici e allucinogeni per sopravvivere in un mondo sostenuto da benzedrine, terpina, alcool, mescalina, sesso in tutte le infinite varietà, denaro, oro e potere.

Nei romanzi più compatti di Ellroy tutto ciò ruota e si regge intorno a un nucleo forte rappresentato da un’indagine poliziesca (nella quadrilogia che ha costruito la fama dell’autore: “The L.A.Quartet” a partire da “The Black Dahlia”) oppure, a partire dal ’95 con una geniale svolta della sua carriera, ad eventi reali rappresentativi della recente storia sotterranea e tenebrosa degli USA (la trilogia “Underworld USA” con gli attentati ai Kennedy e a Martin Luther King).

A partire da “Perfidia”di cui “Questa tempesta” è un sequel, l’orologio della storia fa un passo indietro e lo sfondo diventa Pearl Harbor e soprattutto le sue conseguenze sulla realtà californiana: da un lato la paranoia circa l’incombente sbarco giapponese (l’episodio della contraerea in azione contro un presunto bombardamento su L.A. è realmente accaduto il 25/02/42), dall’altro la repressione e rappresaglia verso migliaia di famiglie della pacifica e integrata comunità giapponese in USA e la paradossale diffusione di un sentimento filo-nazista in alcuni gruppi estremisti con ramificazioni estese anche in apparati della Polizia.

Gli avvenimenti di “Questa tempesta” si svolgono negli anni 1941-42 ma la Guerra combattuta rimane sostanzialmente sullo sfondo del racconto e l’assenza di un epicentro storico catalizzatore concentra l’attenzione su una serie di crimini fra loro collegati a partire dal decennio precedente. I detective e i soggetti implicati nelle vicende delittuose, tutti invariabilmente corrotti, folli e allucinati, si alternano sulla scena in un febbrile girotondo reiterando come in un mantra i moventi, i sospetti, le violenze, le alleanze e i rancori antichi o recenti, con un effetto vertigine che travolge ogni volta le conoscenze acquisite.

Se ne esce estenuati ma anche con la vaga percezione che nel 2020, fra centinaia di thriller fotocopia pubblicati ogni settimana, questo possa essere l’unico modo originale e verosimile di narrare il poliziesco dove, violando i canoni classici del genere, i conti non tornano mai, i dubbi surclassano le certezze, il caos domina, i duri detectives dal cuore gentile non esistono, il finale non pacifica nessuno, ed il verso di W.H.Auden che ispira il titolo prosegue “..Questa tempesta, questo disastro devastante!”
Profile Image for Karin Carlson.
371 reviews11 followers
June 15, 2019
This should have been/could have been brilliant but sadly I think Ellroys L. A. Confidential days are far behind him. Somewhere in this mess of words (oh so many words) there may be a really good story but this authors ego took over and all I could read/see/hear was “look at me look at me.....see what an erudite, cool and hip writer I am?” And when I say too many words there is no other way to describe this book. They are used, overused, misused and they weigh on you. They cover up and hide any glimpse of a coherent plot. The first few pages of the book included the word gestalt over and over. And over again. As if the author just liked the way the word looked on paper so he decided to use it. I read Perfidia, the start of what will be (sadly) another Ellroy quartet so I can’t say I wasn’t warned but hope springs eternal. I haven’t had to force myself to finish a book in years and at 581 pages it took a lot of force. I wish I could find something positive to say about this book but no matter how hard I try nothing springs to mind. I guess my gestalt is too unorganized. Smiley face emoji.
Profile Image for OutlawPoet.
1,298 reviews69 followers
April 22, 2019
While I liked the patter and the sharp dialogue, there are so very many characters strewn throughout that it was hard to care about any of them. The author rapidly changes from scene to scene and character to character, challenging the reader to get to know any of them.

I was okay with the seediness. Just know that there are no heroes in this book. Every last character is involved in something unsavory: rounding up Japanese for internment camps, prostitution, drugs, dirty money, etc. There are scandalous little asides to the sexual behaviors of movies stars of the time and even more scandalous bits about law enforcement and politicians.

Everyone is dirty.

This further challenged me when it came to caring about any of them. It didn't help that every last one of them was imbued with the casual racism that was prevalent during them time.

While I think the author did a masterful job of presenting a dark and dirty LA in one of the darkest and dirtiest times in the world's history, it doesn't make for pleasurable reading.

It is, however, a masterful representation of a time and place best left in the past.
Profile Image for John Devlin.
Author 22 books79 followers
June 29, 2019
I’ve loved much of what Ellroy wrote in his early days, and was dismayed at his over the top 60’s big picture paranoia.

The second forties book is a mixed bag, but what tips it into parody is that he’s stopped writing about real people some time ago.

The characters and their intendants are just a swath of horrible tics and fetishes. Shock and grotesqueries abound making everyone a Frankenstein creation wears very thin over such a long book.

The plot is a hopeless mess that runs so tangled the reader just concedes and waits to be told the denouement.
Profile Image for Evi.
78 reviews36 followers
January 20, 2020
H Θύελλα του James Ellroy ακολουθεί το Perfidia σαν ιστορία.
Είναι ένα πολυσέλιδο μυθιστόρημα από τον μετρ της αστυνομικής λογοτεχνίας.

Διαδραματίζεται στο Λος Άντζελες έπειτα από την επίθεση στο Περλ Χάρμπορ από τους Ιάπωνες. Η πόλη βρίσκεται ��ε ένα σοκ και ο κάθε Ιάπωνας κάτοικος της πόλης αρχικά αντιμετωπίζεται με καχυποψία κ καταλήγει στη φυλακή έπειτα από συλλήψεις που εξαπολύονται.
Η ιστορία ξεκινά με ένα πτώμα που ξεθάβει η καταιγίδα στο Πάρκο Γκρίφιθ. Δυστυχώς δεν είναι θύμα της κακοκαιρίας, με αποτέλεσμα να ξεκινήσει ένας κυκεώνας από χαώδη γεγονότα όπως φονικές πυρκαγιές, ληστείες χρυσού, ναζί, κομμουνιστές και απατεώνες που εκμεταλλεύονται το φυλετικό μίσος.

Σε αυτή τη δίνη των συντακτικών καταστάσεων βρίσκονται μπλεγμένοι ο Έλμερ Τζάκσον, ο Φιντέλ Ασίντα, ο Ντάντλεϊ Σμιθ και η Τζόαν Κόνβιλ. Διεφθαρμένος αστυφύλακας του τμήματος ηθών, αξιωματικός του εγκληματολογικού, υπάλληλος της υπηρεσίας πληροφοριών του στρατού και υποπλοίαρχος του ναυτικού αντίστοιχα.

Ένα βιβλίο τολμηρό, άγριο και γεμάτο από σαλεμένους ήρωες. Ο συγγραφέας παρουσιάζει την εικόνα του Λος Άντζελες κατά την περίοδο του Β' Παγκοσμίου Πολέμου με καθηλωτική αφήγηση και γεμάτη εφιάλτες.

Οι λάτρεις της συγκεκριμένης περιόδου θα το αγαπήσουν.
Profile Image for Daniel Sevitt.
1,199 reviews104 followers
July 21, 2019
Astonishing. I’ve been reading Ellroy for almost 25 years. I’ve read every book he’s published. After years to drifting into self-parody this finds him absolutely at the top of his game. In Ellroy’s world people don’t ‘talk’, they ‘dish’. Detectives don’t ‘watch’ suspects, they ‘peep’ them.

This took me two weeks to consume because it’s 4 times denser than anything else you might read. Sentences can be two or three words long and every paragraph contains multitudes. It’s epic. It’s Tolstovian, except when Ellroy tells it, it’s War and War.

We might only get one more book by Ellroy in this lifetime. I’ll be right here waiting for it.
Profile Image for Jason Allison.
Author 3 books20 followers
June 25, 2019
There is no voice that I’ve read as distinct and iconic as Ellroy’s. His LA of days past may or may not have existed. I don’t care. I love being there and find it hard to leave. This was nearly 600 pages and I wished it was twice that. The best novel I’ve read this year, hands down.
Profile Image for Marley.
516 reviews19 followers
June 6, 2020
Devil Dog is back! Ellroy is one of the great American writers. It finally hits me that he's writing about the same stuff as Gore Vidal, only different specific subject matter and certainly style. Nobody knows corruption like Ellroy. I'm a trained historian and his work informs me more on American history than just about any history book. He's found the heart of American darkness. It may be exaggerated and fabulist, but hell..look at how things operate today. Reading This Storm was like a very trip into Red Harvest.

Oh ,Dudley, you are breaking my heart! I knew from previous reviews that you would go full batshit fascist, but this is beyond the beyond. Does anyone else believe he was sexually abused as a child? In the other books I had pictured him older than he actually is. And all that sex. Elroy lays out all Dud's dysfunctions. He need some sessions with Dr Lesnick--or me.

Kay Lake has become almost loveable and understandable. And whoever thought of Elmer Jackson suffered from sweetheart tendencies? Or Bill Parker could be (I suppose ) sexy? .Or Elmer for that matter. I listen to old radio Dragnets and Whiskey Bill sometimes shills for the show. Thad Brown is sometimes Joe Friday's boss. Jim Davis ewww. Have you ever looked at these people in real life online.

The plot, of course, is Ellroyan and complicated. I got lost sometimes, but this was a little easier than Perfidia, and for once had a satisfactory ending. But what in the world will Dudle do next?

Perfidia and This Storm explain America completely. I can see Stephen Miller marching around in SS drag with a gold sword, a picture of Dudley Smith on his bunker wall. Trump would be Call Me jack or Jim Davis, only they are more interesting. It was such a relation reading My Storm. It put out current political culture in perspective. Right-Left. Fifth Column. Disloyalty. Duplicity. Drugs. Insanity.
Profile Image for Stephen J.  Golds.
Author 23 books81 followers
November 23, 2019
Ellroy, the drunk at the bar who tells exactly the same story every night for hours on end, but you keep buying drinks for him because he sure can tell that one story entertainingly...


It seems as though Ellroy writes exactly the same 3 or 4 main characters in nearly all of his novels and just changes their names and job title.

One of the best and most mysterious adversaries in modern fiction, Dudley Smith has been turned into a pussy-whipped fool who has an imaginary friend that is a wolf. The Black Dahlia is his daughter and he gets manipulated easily by nearly all of the characters. Ellroy has nearly ruined this character... A wolf as an imaginary friend, lol.

Yes, the story, as usual from Ellroy, is good and keeps you guessing until the end, however it is held together by too many coincidences that are really quite jarring. I wish that real life was as simple as just talking to an associate in your life to get all the answers that you need.

Now I have so many questions about the 1940’s...

Were all the cops in the 1940s drinking whisky coffee and downing enough bennies to kill an elephant?
Were all of Hollywood banging animals and tranvestite hookers?
Did everyone clean their ears with paper clips while in conversation with other people?
Did everyone constantly wink at each other like they had twitches?

Furthermore, as someone who has lived in Japan for the last 12 years, it is apparent that Ellroy was too cheap to get an actual Japanese translator for his Japanese language sections and just used google translate...

It seems as though Ellroy has dramatically switched from the amazing dirty realism that made me engrossed in a lot of his previous novels into a ridiculous comic book imagery. The complete unrealistic scenarios really take you out of the novel. A lot of the violence is just laughable as is the way all the characters talk and think exactly the same in this book and the same as characters in ALL of his other books.

With all of that said, I will probably still read his next novels because even though Ellroy hasn’t grown as a writer, he is still much better at writing noir mysteries and thrillers than the majority of most of his peers.
Profile Image for Chomsky.
192 reviews28 followers
July 12, 2020
“Questa tempesta” è l”ennesima pennellata dell’allucinato e dantesco affresco che James Ellroy ha programmato per svelare l’anima oscura dell’America.

Il suo ambizioso e complesso progetto si articola in tre grandi cicli che coprono gli anni che vanno dall’ingresso americano nella Seconda Guerra Mondiale al 1972.

La “tetralogia di Los Angeles” è la prima completata e comprende “Dalia Nera”, “Il grande nulla”, “L.A. Confidential” e “White Jazz” e analizza gli anni Cinquanta.

Il secondo ciclo è quello chiamato “trilogia americana” ed è composto da “American Tabloid”, “Sei pezzi da mille” e “Il sangue è randagio”. Questa trilogia indaga sul periodo che va dall’omicidio di John Kennedy sino agli anni Settanta.

A questo punto Ellroy decide di portare indietro le lancette della storia e con “Perfidia” comincia la seconda tetralogia di Los Angeles che percorre gli anni Quaranta, “decennio basso e disonesto”, di cui “Questa tempesta” è il secondo atto.

James Ellroy si ama o sia odia, tertium non datur. La sua scrittura frenetica, elettrica, paranoica e il suo fluviale modo di narrare, “Questa tempesta” conta ben 864 pagine, mettono a dura prova il lettore non abituato alla visione cupa e quasi disperata dell’umanità costretta a fare a pugni ogni giorno per avere una speranza di miglioramento che si dimostrerà sempre un’irridente illusione.

Il suo modo di scrivere così impetuoso e ritmato ha un andamento quasi jazzistico:

“Un cameriere notò il loro stato da zombie e portò subito due caffè. Elmer ci sbriciolò dentro delle pasticche di benzedrina. L’effetto fu raaaaapido. Passarono da zombizzati a elettrizzati. Parlarono tantissimo. Attrassero occhiate. Elmer scrutò rapidamente il gruppo. Buzz Meeks, Due Pistole Davis. Kay e Big Joan, di nuovo. La chiacchierata prese nuove direzioni. Concetti inebrianti, parole grosse”.

Quando però si entra in sintonia con la sua personalissima visone del mondo, con le donne fatali e con la polizia corrotta e/o incapace e violenta, il linguaggio nervoso e convulso e le trame intrecciate che alla fine si riuniscono per creare un finale gonfio di amarezza e di sconfitte regalano un piacere ineguagliabile,

Come Dante che raffigura nell’Inferno i contemporanei senza alcun timore reverenziale, Ellroy descrive un mondo corrotto dove non esistono i buoni e tutti i personaggi scontano i loro peccati, veniali o mortali.

Il mondo che Ellroy descrive è quello della polizia di Los Angeles, in cui trova la sua comfort zone a partire dalla vicenda che segnò profondamente la sua infanzia, l’uccisione della madre, che ha rivissuto nel romanzo “Dalia Nera” e nei saggi “I miei luoghi oscuri” e “L’assassino di mia madre.”

Ellroy però non idealizza i suoi eroi ma li descrive come angeli caduti dal paradiso, corrotti, laidi, intrallazzatori e degni di ogni nefandezza.

“Questa tempesta” comincia alla fine del 1941, qualche settimana dopo “il giorno dell’infamia” come fu chiamato l’attacco giapponese a Pearl Harbor che spinse gli americani a dichiarare la guerra al Giappone.

In base a questo attacco più di centomila americani di origine giapponese vennero internati e furono espropriati dei loro beni.

Su questo episodio storico Ellroy innesta una complessa trama che incrocia il furto di una spedizione di oro, un complotto comunista, la psicosi dell’invasione da parte dei giapponesi, una strana conferenza che doveva unire le forze dei nazisti e dei marxisti, le ambizioni artistiche di Orson Welles, il movimento sinarchista messicano, per molti versi simile al fascismo, e le vite di tanti piccoli profittatori che verranno spazzati via dalla tempesta scatenata dall’avidità e dalla sete di potere.

Sin dalle prime pagine ritroviamo vecchi protagonisti delle altre serie di Ellroy come Buzz Meeks, Sid Hudgens, protagonista di “L.A. Confidential”, Lee Blanchard, Elizabeth Short la “Dalia Nera” ma soprattutto Dudley Smith, vera e propria anima tenebrosa dei romanzi dello scrittore americano che lo utilizza come metafora della perdita dell’innocenza della nazione.

Dudley è il ragno nero al centro della ragnatela degli intrighi che si snodano sul friabilissimo confine tra USA e Messico e anche tra legalità e criminalità:

“Dudley ha grossi piani per il Messico, e per metterli in atto intende sfruttare il suo status di membro dei servizi segreti dell’esercito. Venderà eroina, destinata ad una clientela esclusivamente nera, perché questo è il ruolo che devono avere i narcotici in questa città e importerà clandestini negli Stati Uniti. Venderà come schiavi i prigionieri giapponesi.”

Questo aberrante progetto di Dudley Smith è solo una delle tante sottotrame contenute nel libro ed è collegato agli altri romanzi creando un allucinato universo narrativo tanto complesso quanto mooolto intrigante.

Un’ultima avvertenza: come negli altri noir di James Ellroy, bisogna stare molto attenti a non affezionarsi troppo ai personaggi perché ogni tanto qualcuno fa una brutta fine.
Profile Image for Paul.
528 reviews22 followers
July 18, 2019

'This Storm' is the second installment of the Second L.A. Quartet, following 'Perfidia (1941-1942). To paraphrase James Ellroy, it is long, long, looooooong, at 600+ pages.
It's pointless reading 'This Storm' or for that matter 'Perfidia' unless you have read the First L.A. Quartet; 'The Black Dahlia', 'The Big Nowhere', 'L.A. Confidential' and 'White Jazz' (1946-1958) or for that matter The Underworld U.S.A. Trilogy (1958-1972); 'American Tabloid', 'The Cold Six Thousand' and 'Blood's a Rover'. Ideally readers might wait for Ellroy to complete the third and fourth Second L.A. Quartet novels and then read the First Quartet and the Underworld Trilogy.

However you eventually tackle this masterwork, do read it. If anything, 'This Storm' is even better than 'Perfidia' and at the very least is consistantly good and for such a massive undertaking, that is no mean feat.

Local jazzcats made him. They sniffed grief and gave him dat wiiiiiiiiiiiide berth. He magnetized resentment. He percolated fear and hate.
Elmer walked the strip. He felt underdressed. His squarejohn suit clashed with the full-drape zoots. Lots of cats and kittens, lots of saucy dash. Coloreds, beaners, whites. The Dark Continent jumps tonight!!!

Highly recommended, if you can tolerate the hip/hep alliteration.
Profile Image for 3 no 7.
746 reviews21 followers
June 15, 2019
“This Storm” by James Elroy is classic noir fiction that transports readers into the turbulent world of World War II Los Angeles, a city gripped by war, pessimism, resignation, and moral ambiguity. The sentence structure matches the mood with short sentences, .quick descriptions, and no-nonsense conversations.
“Note the tattoo. It’s there on the right forefinger-thumb web. It’s an “SQ” circled by snakes. Remember Tommy Glennon’s tattoo stencil? It’s flat out just like that.”

Readers are immersed in 1942 Los Angeles, the people, the blackouts, the contentious politics, the uncertainty, the fear, but mostly and the individual stories and the personal tragedies. The characters are crude and rude, yet focused and straightforward. The conversations are politically incorrect and exceedingly real. The story begins when an unusually intense rain and the resulting mud slides unearth a body in Griffith Park.
“Let’s go. We’ve got mud slides in Griffith Park. They’ve dislodged a body by the golf course.”

Characters pull readers into the narrative, almost talking directly to them, allowing them to eavesdrop on conversations and thoughts, throwing them into turmoil in the midst of regular life in L.A. Every detail reinforces the time

“This Storm” is filled with war, domestic spies, counter-intelligence, and political misdeeds. I received a copy of “This Storm” from James Elroy and Random House Publishing. It is a wild ride from the first page to the last. I recommend that you plan your time carefully because once you start “This Storm” you will not put it down until the end.
26 reviews
June 25, 2019
I made it through 100 pages before finally tossing the book aside. There's no chance I'll finish it. After Perfidia I promised myself I'd give Ellroy one more chance. This was that one chance.
All style, no substance. Back when he put out his LA quartet I found his writing unique and captivating. It really had me hooked, with its fast pace, its terse writing, and even with its brutality.
With Perfidia, I began to find him smug and stale. With This Storm, I'd finally had enough. When you find the same characters appearing yet again and becoming tedious, repetitive, and not worth caring about, it's time to bail. Even though many of his books have an uncommon intelligence, I couldn't help but be reminded of when Jeff Lindsay's Dexter series began to show signs of an author mailing it in and relying on reputation.
Profile Image for Chad.
146 reviews11 followers
June 25, 2019
I certainly enjoyed this more than Perfidia. Ellroy's new "devolved" style is not really a mystery to be solved but rather a mania to be caught. I still prefer the older books, I guess I always will. There's something about the epic national scale of the Underworld Trilogy that I wish he would return to instead of rehashing the L.A. Quartet characters.
But it is fun to see Buzz Meeks kick some ass again.
July 18, 2019
Hard to follow

I quit reading this book after about 30 pages. The short choppy writing style just drove me crazy. I must be one of the few people in the country who doesn’t like this book.
Profile Image for Todd Glaeser.
764 reviews
December 30, 2019
I liked the ending. I can’t deny, however, that I usually burn through Ellroy novels and this one was a slog.
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95 reviews11 followers
May 30, 2020
Θα χαρείς, θα στεναχωρεθείς, θα κλάψεις, θα γελάσεις, θα ψάξεις, θα χαθείς, θα ονειρευτείς, θα ερωτευθείς, θα μάθεις, θα ξεχάσεις, θα ταξιδέψεις, θα χάσεις τον ύπνο σου, θα τρελαθείς... Ένα βιβλίο που αποθεώνει και προκαλεί αμέτρητα συναισθήματα! Ο Τζέιμς Ελρόι είναι ο Μπετόβεν της λογοτεχνίας.
February 18, 2020
Τρία χρόνια μετά την κυκλοφορία του "Perfidia" στα ελληνικά, και πέντε χρόνια μετά την πρώτη κυκλοφορία του σε αγγλικό κείμενο, έφτασε η στιγμή της "Θύελλας", του δεύτερου μέρους της Δεύτερης Τετραλογίας του Λος Άντζελες, με την υπογραφή του κορυφαίου Αμερικανού συγγραφέα της αστυνομικής λογοτεχνίας, και των εκδόσεων Κλειδάριθμος, για μία ακόμη φορά, που με τόση αγάπη, και προσοχή ακόμα και στην λεπτομέρεια, έχουν περιβάλλει το σύνολο του έργου του τα τελευταία χρόνια. Ένα έργο όχι μόνο πολυάριθμο, τόσο σε τίτλους βιβλίων όσο και ως προς τις σελίδες του καθενός εξ αυτών χωριστά, αλλά και με καθαρά δική του ταυτότητα, προσέγγιση, αισθητική.

Η αφήγηση της "Θύελλας", της οποίας ο τίτλος έχει διττή έννοια και σημασιολογία, ξεκινάει στο Λος Άντζελες, λίγο μετά την επίθεση των Ιαπώνων στο Περλ Χάρμπορ, που είχε ως αποτέλεσμα τις γνωστές καταστροφικές συνέπειες για τους Αμερικάνους. Όπως είναι φυσικό επόμενο, μια τέτοια συνθήκη έχει προκαλέσει εμπάθεια των κατοίκων της πόλης απέναντι σε κάθε άνθρωπο Ιαπωνικής καταγωγής, με την καχυποψία να εντείνεται όλο και περισσότερο απέναντι στο πρόσωπό τους, μέχρι που φτάνουν να τους φυλακίσουν έπειτα από μια σειρά συλλήψεων που σκοπό έχει να εξαλείψει κάθε πιθανό κίνδυνο. Παράλληλα, εξαιτίας μιας σφοδρής κακοκαιρίας που προκαλεί ισχυρούς χείμαρρους, ένα πτώμα εντοπίζεται στο Πάρκο Γκρίφιθ, και παρά που αρχικά η αστυνομία θεωρεί πως πρόκειται για μια υπόθεση ρουτίνας, πιθανότατα και για ένα φρικτό ατύχημα, σύντομα ανακαλύπτουν πως τα πράγματα είναι πιο περίπλοκα απ' όσο φαίνονται.

Όλα τα παραπάνω δεν θα είναι παρά η αρχή του κακού, το καμπανάκι που κρούει τον κώδωνα του κινδύνου για όλα όσα πρόκειται ν' ακολουθήσουν και που δεν θ' αφήσουν τίποτα άλλο πίσω τους παρά καταστροφές και θύματα. Φονικές πυρκαγιές, ληστείες χρυσού, ναζί και κομμουνιστές σε σ��γκρουση, απατεώνες που εκμεταλλεύονται το φυλετικό μίσος το οποίο φουντώνει ολοένα και περισσότερο και κυριεύει ολοκληρωτικά τα πλήθη. Χάος, όλεθρος και καταστροφή, και μέσα σε αυτόν τον τραγικό κυκεώνα, άνθρωποι που πέφτουν θύματα όλων εκείνων που κινούν στην πραγματικότητα τα νήματα χωρίς κανείς να το αντιλαμβάνεται, χωρίς να το βλέπει, χωρίς να το κατανοεί, γιατί όταν η βία ξεσπά και φεύγει από τον έλεγχό μας, θολώνει λογική και συνειδήσεις.

Μια δίνη ακραίων καταστάσεων με φόντο μια εμπόλεμη κατάσταση, μεταφορικά και κυριολεκτικά, μέσα στην οποία ζουν, δρουν και πράττουν, με τον καθέναν να παίζει τον δικό του σημαντικό ρόλο -όσον αφορά τις εξελίξεις γενικότερα, αλλά και την Ιστορία ειδικότερα-, οι Έλμερ Τζάκσον, Φιντέλ Ασίντα, Ντάντλεϊ Σμιθ και Τζόαν Κόνβιλ. Τέσσερις διαφορετικοί χαρακτήρες, τέσσερις ξεχωριστές προσωπικότητες, με εξέχουσες θέσεις όλοι τους, με τα προτερήματα και τις αδυναμίες τους, με τα προσωπικά τους πάθη που άλλοτε τους κυριεύουν και άλλοτε τα τιθασεύουν χωρίς, ωστόσο, την απόλυτη τήρηση των ισορροπιών εκείνων που θα γεννούσαν ένα αίσθηση αρμονίας, και που καλούνται να επιτελέσουν το έργο τους, εκεί που το καθήκον και το πρέπει συγκρούονται με την εσωτερική ηθική.

Όπως αντιλαμβάνεστε, για ένα τόσο ογκώδες βιβλίο, είναι πάρα πολλά αυτά που θα μπορούσα να πω. Ωστόσο, επιλέγω να σταματήσω κάπου εδώ, όχι μόνο για να μην σας αποκαλύψω λεπτομέρειες που δεν θα έπρεπε, αλλά γιατί τόσο πολυδιάστατα βιβλία, όπως αυτά του Ellroy, πάντα χρήζουν μιας προσωπικής ματιάς, ανάλυσης και εκτίμησης των στοιχείων, των δεδομένων, των καταστάσεων, και πολλές φορές, ακόμα και μια δεύτερη ανάγνωση. Αυτό που χρειάζεται να γνωρίζετε είναι πως η "Θύελλα" είναι ένα αρκετά σκληρό, ωμό και βίαιο, στα σημεία του, μυθιστόρημα, πλούσιο σε ιστορικά δεδομένα, από τα οποία, όμως, δεν εξαρτάται αποκλειστικά, χτίζοντας ένα εφιαλτική σκηνικό χάους και φρίκης, με φόντο το Λος Άντζελες του Β' Παγκοσμίου Πολέμου, καθηλώνοντάς μας και κόβοντάς μας την ανάσα πολλές φορές. Ένα βιβλίο που οι λάτρεις του είδους σίγουρα θα αγαπήσουν, μα και ένα βιβλίο που μπορεί να συστήσει δυναμικά τον Ellroy σε όσους δεν έχουν τολμήσει να τον αγγίξουν... ακόμα.
June 24, 2019
THIS STORM is like a drug. It is impossible to stop reading it once you start. Grains and particles (and chunks) of it linger in corners and crevices of your consciousness and memory, whether you are awake or asleep, as soon as you finish it. It cannot be accurately stated that you have never read anything like it unless you have had no contact with author James Ellroy’s prior work, particularly what has come to be known as the L.A. Quartet.

This is book two in the Second L.A. Quartet, which picks up a little more than a day after the conclusion of 2014's PERFIDIA and runs from December 30, 1941 to April 26, 1942. The protagonist remains the city of Los Angeles, which is still reeling from the attack on Pearl Harbor just a few weeks before. The narrative shifts among the perspectives and points of view of several characters, each of which describes several others.

Some are fictitious, such as Kay Lake, whose diary entries appear intermittently, and Hideo Ashida, an ahead-of-his-time LAPD forensic investigator who is laboring under two disadvantages, one of which is obvious and the other that he keeps hidden for preservation’s sake. Others are very real, from Count Basie and Orson Welles to Jack Webb and Ellen Drew. There is a “Dramatis Personae” section at the back of the book providing terse descriptions (“CHUCKIE DUQUESNE. Jazz musician and psycho killer.”) that assist, but do not always help, the reader in keeping track of who's who and what's what. One doesn’t want to stop reading the narrative long enough to look at it anyway. There is simply too much going on.

Ellroy has noted elsewhere that each sentence in THIS STORM advances the narrative. Just so. It is a stiff-legged, full-out march that observes the LAPD administering rough justice to rapists and Japanese citizens alike (though Ashida is spared this. Mostly). The case that propels the novel takes flight when a heavy thunderstorm reveals a long-buried corpse in Los Angeles’s Griffith Park. It is important, yes, but there is so much else going on, including the primary and secondary effects of the Pearl Harbor attack (including citywide blackouts), the discovery of the bodies of two dead cops in a dive bar, and the sure knowledge that fifth columnists on both sides are attempting to control the city and country for their own political and selfish motives.

Ellroy covers it all with a third person narrative (except for Lake’s diary) that is delivered with a machine-gun cadence in short and long bursts, depending on purpose and mood. The dialogue in places sacrifices the potentially tender feelings and sensibilities of readers upon a burning altar of accuracy. Pejorative terms for every group, race, creed or color are unearthed (though they have never really been buried) and unabashedly displayed, but never gratuitously. Their use subtly explains the whys and wherefores of what is occurring.

There are no real good guys in THIS STORM. Every character is badly, even horribly flawed in some manner, though many try and succeed to do at least one right thing for the right reason if that can be discerned. At the same time, nothing --- not even the cover --- is what it seems to be at first blush. Conundrums abound, not the least of which is that one can keep up (barely) with the rapid-fire delivery of Ellroy’s prose by reading as slowly as possible. One gets lost otherwise, but please note: Ellroy is arguably creating the Great American literary collection single-handedly with this Quartet and its predecessor, and you really want to read every beautifully dark, twisted and graphic word of it to have your circuits irrevocably rewired.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub
Profile Image for Dave.
413 reviews16 followers
January 5, 2020
What an astounding, albeit difficult book. If you've read Ellroy's other books, The LA Quartet, the American Underworld trilogy, and Perfidia, the book that immediately precedes this one then you know what to expect; bad people doing bad things. Short sentences. Very few adjectives.

Ellroy's prose is abrasive, lingo-rich, and demanding. It requires you get used to the slang of the era, police department acronyms, and the overwhelming racism that saturates all of his work. if you've never read any Ellroy then this is not the place to start.

The plot is terrific. At its core three crimes that intertwine; but how they are revealed, and how, and why they were committed, and by whom, is expertly drawn out. Ellroy is less of a detective writer and more of an historical fiction writer who loves bad cops, and bad cop mayhem.

His overriding trademarks; casual violence, casual break-and-enters, and casual sexual waywardness. Peeping, whoring, donkey-fucking, crazy shit.

It's addictive. If you've read his other stuff then you must read this.
Profile Image for Weird.
484 reviews125 followers
June 10, 2019
I first came to dig James Ellroy as a youngster in the early-to-mid nineties, hipped first to the unaccountably rarely discussed KILLER ON THE ROAD, which was recommended to me by my friend’s father; he happened to be a neuropsychiatrist and he told me it was the finest psycho killer novel in the pantheon. It was a novel that meant a great deal to me indeed in my early teens and which I continue to think about regularly. It is a rare novel that I have read multiple times. I read a number of Ellroy’s other earlier novels in addition to THE BIG NOWHERE, the second novel in his original L.A. Quartet. It was all strong stuff, garrulous hard-nosed pulp of some considerable verve and sophistication. I caught up with THE COLD SIX THOUSAND shortly after it hit paperback, at this point a man in his early twenties. I was expecting to like it but was not prepared to be as floored by it as I in fact was. It was a stupefying masterpiece, insanely ambitious, a work of devoted counterhistory, maniacally imaginative and disturbingly credible. It was hallucinatory pulp fantasia as serious historical fiction of the highest order. I was hardly the only reader out there who felt this way. The next two Ellroy novels would prove to be extremely strong but did not quite reach the exalted heights of THE COLD SIX THOUSAND. First came BLOOD’S A ROVER, trailing AMERICAN TABLOID and THE COLD SIX THOUSAND as the final work in the aptly named “Underworld U.S.A” trilogy (an appellation borrowed from a very fine 1961 Samuel Fuller movie equally focused on collusion between rogue state officials, law enforcement agencies, organized crime, media, and skeezy business interests). BLOOD’S A ROVER seemed somewhat diffuse in comparison to THE COLD SIX THOUSAND. It is a strong novel, but a strangely atomized one, and does not have the teeth or the charging insistence of its predecessor. Following BLOOD’S A ROVER, Ellroy would produce PERFIDIA, the purported first offering in a new L.A. Quartet. PERFIDIA is set during December of 1941 and shifts perspectives between a number of characters allied to one extent or another with the Los Angeles Police Department as it conducts investigations into a grisly homicide, perhaps racially motivated, the victims a Japanese family, Pearl Harbour and the incipient Japanese internment serving as backdrop. If I would have abstained from calling PERFIDIA the equal of THE COLD SIX THOUSAND back when I read it in 2014, I would certainly nonetheless have conceded that it had very effectively whetted my appetite for more. Flash forward to June, 2019. THIS STORM, the second novel in the new L.A. Quartet, hits the streets on a Tuesday and I commence reading it immediately. And blammo! Whew, it’s a humdinger, a major development, and doubtlessly superior to the very fine PERFIDIA (which I will concede quite probably deserves a second look). Ellroy’s prose style had more or less arrived at its current refined mode by the time of THE COLD SIX THOUSAND. This prose style is, to put it mildly, extremely heavy on style. Ellroy writes a kind of antiquated hep jazzcat jive, the delivery generally punchy and staccato. This approach has a quality of minimalism about it, I suppose, but is utilized to foment a wildly maximalist literature. It is very juicy writing, but in a utilitarian way it also lends itself to electricity and momentum. Note for instance how expediently he can dispatch with simple actions, lending them a quality of moxie: “He pulled over. The goons came on servile. They pointed him down a steep roadway. He skidded on hard dirt and sand.” Maximum efficiency coupled with bracing verve. You’ve got folks trying to catch “The skinny, the dish, the drift.” You’ve got the Mexican nightspots alliteratively jazzed-up all “Tacofied taverns and pachucoized pool halls.” Words like "voyeurizized." Note this hilarious, dazzling, berserk, highly characteristic sentence: “Georgie’s swag gored Elmer’s gourd.” If there is any doubt that jazz, jazz-speak, and jazz-think are at the heart of this kinetic style, perhaps take note of a character we meet only very briefly in THIS STORM, Hector Obregon-Hodaka, half Mexican and half Japanese, aficionado of both jazz and black women, who denies that he is Fifth Column, describing himself as “a live-and-let-live, hold-for-the-downbeat sort of cat.” Jazz is not the only musical marker in the first half of this new quartet. You will note fascinating considerations of Brahms and Shostakovich et al. A new Shostakovich symphony being smuggled out of Russia even provides one of the many, many plot strands in the monumentally jam-packed THIS STORM. The real life Otto Klemperer, famed conductor, is one of the many real life personages naughtily maligned in THIS STORM (par for the course in later Ellroy). The title of THIS STORM is taken from W. H. Auden, a further reference to High Culture. “This storm, this savaging disaster.” Of course the Second World War is the storm, the savaging disaster, but really and truly, at the end of the day, History herself is the storm, brutalizing, unrelenting, unforgiving. Naturally, also, the novel begins on New Year’s eve, and there is a storm, your typical perfunctory rainstorm. There will be more rainstorms in Ellroy’s novel then would seem to strictly make sense for a Los Angeles-set piece, but might make a great deal of sense indeed for one in implicit dialogue with the tradition of film noir (that glorious genre, not really a genre per se and named a posteriori, that came into being in 1940s Los Angeles). THIS STORM begins with a fragment of diary from the inimitable Kay Lake, followed by a transcribed (though made up) harangue by profoundly disreputable real life Catholic nativist fascist-friendly shitheel Father Charles Caughlin extolling the righteous rightist machinations of Mexico’s thuggish green-shirted Sinarquistas (a real organization, their real leader is a character in the novel). The novel proper begins with Sargent Elmer Jackson occupying “front-house car” for a three-man stakeout of “hot-prowl burglar/rape-o” Tommy Glennon. He’s using his “part-time” girlfriend Ellen Drew as bait. Ellen Drew, it just so happens, was a real actress. I personally remember her best from Samuel Fuller’s second feature. In the Ellroy novel Ellen also tuns tricks. Elmer Jackson, you see, co-runs a call-girl ring. Lester Young’s sax is coming through on the car radio. You have some idea of what kind of (under)world this is we are talking about. The novel jumps between four principal perspectives. We’ve got 1) hayseed Elmer Jackson, almost certainly smarter than most people give him credit for being. We’ve got 2) circumspect homosexual Japanese PD forensic scientist Hideo Ashida, perhaps the most interesting character in PERFIDIA. We’ve got 3) tough-ass Irish Sergeant Dudley Smith, with his weakness for women and his tendency to cultivate male cronies (the brilliant Mr. Ashida, who he protects from internment, foremost among them). Finally we’ve got 4) the really tall redhead Joan Conville, who has a “hot date with History,” and is, following in the wake of Kay Lake, the most recent young woman to find herself entrapped by and infatuated with Captain William Parker, another real life figure who would go on the be the controversial and celebrated real life Los Angeles Police Chief. Kay Lake and William Parker are also principal characters. We know both of them will survive the new L.A. Quartet because Parker will, as mentioned, go on the be Police Chief and Kay Lake will appear in Ellroy’s novel THE BLACK DAHLIA, still cohabiting non-sexually with Officer Lee Blanchard. The malevolent Dudley Smith will somehow also survive this sordid Quartet. He’s in L.A. CONFIDENTIAL. Now, this review is not going to elaborate upon story and plot much further. Apparently Ellroy now produces outlines for his novels that themselves run more than a hundred pages. There is a whole heaping hell of a lot of plotting going on in THIS STORM. The treat of reading it extends beyond the delicious language. The plotting and narrative machinations are an absolute hoot and I don’t want to spoil this stuff. Take note of Elmer on page 451: “Strategies. Plays, plots, ploys, plans. His overworked brain’s overheated and pitched to a boil.” Indeed. The reader is encouraged the likewise overheat and boil. I wouldn’t dare put a damper on that! Suffice it to say that the novel really kicks into gear in the aftermath of a triple homicide that itself links back to a suspicious fire some years previous, the fire itself appearing to connect to a gold heist in the early 30s. Joan Conville’s diary: “The rain, the gold, the fire. It’s all one story, you see.” On top of the rain, the gold, the fire, and a particular triple homicide, we’ve got all manner of Fifth Column malfeasance involving nefarious collusion between the Extreme Left and the Extreme Right. Dudley Smith spends much of the novel working for the military trying to infiltrate seditious elements in Mexico. He uses this as a front for trafficking heroin, Mexican labourers, and Japanese slaves. Dudley: “Our mandate is to foil sabotage and make money.” Dudley’s enterprise is in large part analogous to the conniving of the Fifth Column elements. Ideology is represented as mostly hogwash, a con to pull the wool over the eyes of dupes and marks. In Elllroy-speak: it’s all a shuck. Greed and power are the bottom line. What the Stalanists and fascists in Ellroy most object to about democracy is that it is fundamentally neutered and concomitantly neuters their own ambitions. This is Ellroy Realpolitik: everybody out to make their own score in alignment with their private (often closely concealed) interests/values. Greed, vice, and animus would appear at the surface to be the motors of human enterprise. All the cops in Ellroy are corrupt and dissolute to one extent or another. They ubiquitously guzzle Old Crow bourbon. Dudley Smith drinks, takes bennies “for late-night woo-woo,” pops pain pills, smokes opium, does cocaine with a Mexican paramour, and eventually resorts to shooting morphine when his nerves are understandably fried. Animus is represented most especially in the form of racism, misogyny, and indiscriminate acts of hate. Ellroy always has and always will be a “problematic” writer because his argot is flooded with repugnant ethnic slurs and derogatory pejoratives. This element speaks to a broader investment in human grotesquery, but it would be insufficient to say that Ellroy is simply being true to his milieu or is presenting us with a purely damning kind of exposé. There can be no denying that Ellroy basks in grotesquery, practically luxuriates. Crime fiction has at its best always been a covert and slightly invidious way of servicing our troubled love affair with the amoral. This is what I love most of all about crime fiction. It itself is vice. Ellroy also depicts violence with a profoundly macabre glee, relishing the declamatory and orgiastic, spattering his decor with absurdist gore. There is of course also his aggressively irreverent treatment of real historical figures, neatly summarized in little gags about Fay Edgar Hoover and John “Cricket Dick” Huston. The treatment of Barbara Stanwyck in THIS STORM is hilarious, nasty, practically an outrage, but also great ironic fun. Orson Welles gets mercilessly dragged through the dirt, a simpering egotistical embarrassment secretly making pornographic movies featuring celebrities, subsequently beaten to a pulp and turned snitch. This is tawdry stuff, and it is also great fun. There is a carnivalesque element inherent to Ellory’s unrelenting despoiling of sacred cows, and I believe it is genuinely subversive, far more than a mere callow stunt. It is because of his genius for parcelling out judicious revelations AND because of his presiding romance with grotesquery that I continually laughed out loud, guffawed, and occasionally even practically howled whilst reading THIS STORM. Sometimes my jaw just dropped in appreciative awe. I practically never do these things when I read. Ellory has me doing them with disarming regularity. I find the grotesquery, vice, and decadence all the more impressive in that I have been aware when reading Ellroy, going back to that experience in my early twenties with THE COLD SIX THOUSAND, that he is producing a genuine moral literature. His characters are up to all kinds of sordid business but they routinely grapple with the extrapolation of questions of right and wrong, the novels themselves following suit. The moral becomes a matter of truth rather than fact. The imperative: we must establish adequate truths and become adequate to those truths. Purely moral imperative. The first two novels of this new L.A. Quartet place Dudley Smith and William Parker at odds with one another, because, though they are both Catholic, they abide by separate regimes of Right and Truth. There can be no mistaking: fantastically flawed though they are, often profoundly grotesque, Dudley Smith and William Parker are moral figures. The women in Ellroy’s fiction (note Joan Conville and Kay Lake especially) have becomes exemplary figures or moral elucidation. (We might add that though he has always been kind of temperamentally right wing, in his later years Mr. Ellroy has come to the conclusion, as is evident in novels and interviews, that one of the greatest things life has to offer is righteous left wing women.) Ellroy is just as much in dialogue with Greek tragedy and the 19th century novel as he is with pulp and trash precisely because he presents a moral vision that blankets the societal-historical field and foregrounds the tragic dimension. At the same time, his presentation of disparate, offset moral regimes coincides with something approaching a univocity of voice. I do not at all believe it a liability in his writing that the characters all speak so similarly, that they become extensions of the same voice. Kay Lake speaks of 'Spiritus Mundi,’ this idea of a collective soul or spirit. Though Ellory, I am sure, will pillory either man given half a chance, he is like so many 20th century minds a phenomenon born in the aftermath of Marx and Freud. Within the storm of History, within the savaging disaster of our malevolent species activity, he has brought us a number of staggering novels in which the society and the psyche wrap around one another like rutting snakes, speaking for a densely populated self that assimilates clandestine worlds.
Profile Image for Fraser Simons.
Author 9 books243 followers
December 1, 2022
Like the first LA Quartet, these seem to work very nicely as duologies. I have been thinking on what it would be like to read these chronologically in the fiction. There are certainly characters and events in the future that augment the experience. After all, the full Dudley arc now includes these two books but take place before them. Maybe on a reread.

This book is even more ambitious I think. The satire and parody work, coupled with three ongoing investigations that trickle down into one, with characters in the later original quartet appearing as well. It’s certainly exceptional. Even when the characters digress into the same jokes and circle jerking and the filtering down to raw, brass tax motivations that comes from imbibing all manner of drugs 24/7. And as soon as someone gets close to the truth, of course Ellroy has a bullseye set on them. One of the rare times the historical fiction abides by the rule of law: what is historically known about any known quantities.

And then the real joke comes at the macro level. Because of course these people recycle and regurgitate the same jokes, same talking points, same arguments. You’ll hear, “Hung like a cashew” about a billion times and you won’t hear a kind word from any of these people, because Ellroy has contempt for absolutely everyone. And whether I googled Betty Davis or Howard Hughes or Orson Welles, the stuff that seems verifiable actually seems to check out. And so Ellroy peels back the paint to show the rank exterior.

It’s an odd, but gripping experience, not cheering for literally anyone at all, just watching the people with all the power and authority corrupt just about anything they can get ahold of. And so the cycle continues. Any kind of good gets stomped right out, like a butt on the ground.
Profile Image for Debbie.
1,298 reviews
July 9, 2019
At one point in this novel one character says to another, "I never have to strain myself to grasp your intent." Well, I have to say I rarely grasped the intent. I felt as though I were skittering across the top of a complex story with multiple story lines and with numerous characters. When you think the book can't get any more sordid, it reliably does. No racial or ethnic epithet is verboten and no character too fleeting to not learn something degenerate about them. Of course since much of the degenerate behavior has to do with homosexuality it would not be degenerate by our standards, or at least would not be sordidly conducted under the worse possible conditions. The book does give a feel for the time within a certain Hollywood milieu and Ellroy has a unique style that adds to the atmosphere. But, in honesty, it made me long for a good Raymond Chandler.
Profile Image for Lou.
879 reviews864 followers
June 6, 2019
Bad verbs, bad nouns, bad men, and the corrupted, the crimes, juxtaposition amongst prose style delivered in the one and only Ellroy way of telling
Declarative sentences there will be plenty telling not showing, breaking rules Ellroy style, telling in ways original, and taking you by the hand with characters you may not care for in the Ellroy staccato satirical telling, you may like it or hate it.
I preferred the first book, Perifida, in this second L.A Quartet.

There are two characters back in the narrative from his previous novel Perifida, firstly Hideo Ashida, only man of Japanese nationality employed by the Los Angeles Police Department, and secondly, a prairie girl from Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Kay Lake.
Profile Image for Frédéric.
1,191 reviews48 followers
March 29, 2020
I never thought it'd happen one day but here we are: a mere 2* for an Ellroy novel.
Perfidia was a warning already; I had struggled with myself to bump up a 2.5* but there was no struggle this time.
I can't believe how long I slogged through this book. I'll be honest: I even skim-read the last 100 pages to know who did what for whatever obscure reason they did and finally call it a day.

Six hundred pages of an absurdly confused plot, of unreasonable coincidences, of despicable characters speaking with disjointed grandiloquence... Sorry, amigo, but that's a bit too much. I have a soft stomach.

But there's the style... great style; nervous, sharpened, aggressive and ironic. Ellroy definitely found his own voice here.

Too bad he likes to listen to it so much.
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