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Ellroy, James

crime dark mother novels

(US, 1948– )

Perhaps no other crime writer suffered such a traumatic childhood as James Ellroy, and certainly none have explored the horrors of their past history in such an explicit and sometimes shocking manner. When Ellroy was 10 years old, his mother was brutally murdered; no one was ever charged with the crime. Elements deriving from this defining event in his life are to be found in novels such as Clandestine (1982) and The Black Dahlia (1987). The latter is the first book in The L.A. Quartet: this is a series of four dark and gripping novels set in Los Angeles of the 1940s and 1950s, the most renowned of which is L.A. Confidential (1990), which was made into an Oscar-winning film. Ellroy's understandable obsession with his mother's death eventually led him to collaborate with veteran detective Bill Stoner in a belated attempt to resolve the mystery, which is recorded in My Dark Places (1996). Crime Wave (1999) comprises for the most part reportage previously published in the American edition of GQ, including a reprint of an article about his mother's death which preceded My Dark Places, together with the novella ‘Hollywood Shakedown’ and some shorter fiction. Ellroy's first novel was a private-eye story and his other books include three which feature Lloyd Hopkins of the Los Angeles Police Department. His writing is lurid, complex, and not for the faint-hearted.

Dashiell Hammett, Jim Thompson.

See CRIME, THRILLERS  ME

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