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James Ellroy Biography

(1948– ), Blood on the Moon, Because the Night, Suicide Hill, The Black Dahlia, The Big Nowhere

Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Dutchman to Paul Engle Biography

American crime novelist, born in Los Angeles. After serving in the US Army he drifted through a series of jobs, living for some time as a down-and-out before taking up writing. Perhaps the darkest of all ‘hardboiled’ writers, Ellroy's novels portray Los Angeles and its inhabitants since the 1940s. His vision of contemporary life, like that of James M. Cain and Jim Thompson, is one in which crime and madness are endemic, and in which sexual desire cannot be expressed satisfactorily. His early novels, Blood on the Moon (1984), Because the Night (1985), and Suicide Hill (1986), featured an ambivalent police detective, Lloyd Hopkins, whose investigations of homicides revealed monsters and psychopaths abounding. Ellroy's major work, a sequential history of Los Angeles articulated through a series of the most lurid crimes, begins with The Black Dahlia (1987) based on a famous murder case of 1947, and continues with The Big Nowhere (1988) about the McCarthyite ‘Red scare’ in Hollywood in the early 1950s, L. A. Confidential (1990) which deals with scandal in the movie industry and the sordid reality behind the ‘dream factory’, and White Jazz (1993). Ellroy embarked on a new series with American Tabloid (1995).

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