Perfidia (Second L.A. Quartet #1)
The Japanese have bombed Pearl Harbor. The United States teeters on the edge of war. The roundup of allegedly treasonous Japanese Americans is about to begin. And in L.A., a Japanese family is found dead. Murder or ritual suicide? The investigation will draw four people into a totally Ellroy-ian tangle: a brilliant Japanese American forensic chemist; an unsatisfiably adventurous young woman; one police officer based in fact (William H. "Whiskey Bill" Parker, later to become the groundbreaking chief of the LAPD), the other the product of Ellroy's inimitable imagination (Dudley Smith, arch villain of The Big Nowhere, L.A. Confidential, White Jazz). As their lives intertwine, we are given a story of war and of consuming romance, a searing exposé of the Japanese internment, and an astonishingly detailed homicide investigation. In Perfidia, Ellroy delves more deeply than ever before into his characters' intellectual and emotional lives. But it has the full-strength, unbridled story-telling audacity that has marked all the acclaimed work of the Demon Dog of American Crime Fiction.

Perfidia (Second L.A. Quartet #1) Details

TitlePerfidia (Second L.A. Quartet #1)
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseSep 9th, 2014
PublisherKnopf
ISBN-139780307956996
Rating
GenreFiction, Mystery, Crime, Historical, Historical Fiction, Noir

Perfidia (Second L.A. Quartet #1) Review

  • Kemper
    January 1, 1970
    “Hello, Mr. Ellroy.”“Mr. Kemper, I hear that you are somewhat familiar with me?”“I am.”“Please tell me what you know. Be succinct.”“You are haunted by the unsolved murder of your mother which occurred when you were a child and led you to become obsessed with crime and women. You frequently dreamed of scenarios in which you could save damsels in distress. You let your rich fantasy life rule you and with no ambition or discipline you became a homeless drunk and drug addict in your teens. You event “Hello, Mr. Ellroy.”“Mr. Kemper, I hear that you are somewhat familiar with me?”“I am.”“Please tell me what you know. Be succinct.”“You are haunted by the unsolved murder of your mother which occurred when you were a child and led you to become obsessed with crime and women. You frequently dreamed of scenarios in which you could save damsels in distress. You let your rich fantasy life rule you and with no ambition or discipline you became a homeless drunk and drug addict in your teens. You eventually hit bottom and got sober. You became a writer and used your fascination with true crime and post-war Los Angeles to create what you called the L.A. Quartet. You started with a fictionalized version of the Black Dahlia case, and one of the books, L.A. Confidential, became an acclaimed movie. You wrote a trilogy called Underworld USA that followed bad men doing bad things in the shadows of recent American history. You investigated the death of your mother with an ex-cop and published the results as a memoir. You wrote a second autobiography in which you admitted that much of what you wrote about your state of mind in the first book wasn’t true. You recently published a new novel called Perfidia that you state is the start of a new Second L.A. Quartet.“What are your impressions of Perfidia? Please be brief.”“Perfidia begins the day before Pearl Harbor is attacked by the Japanese. Many of the characters are ones you used in other books like Dudley Smith, a corrupt police officer who was a large part of the L.A. Quartet, and Kay Lake from The Black Dahlia. Others are based on real life people like William ‘Whiskey Bill’ Parker, another LAPD officer who would go on to become the chief of police. A new addition is a brilliant police crime scene technician, Hideo Ashida, of Japanese descent. The murder of a Japanese family coincides with the news of the attack, and the investigation takes place as L.A. is consumed by a mixture of patriotism and paranoia. Corruption enters the scene immediately with many people scheming on ways to profit from the war even as the ships are still burning at Pearl Harbor.”“That’s a summary. I asked for your impressions.”“There is a lot here to appeal to your fans. The wartime setting with a mystery that blends fiction with history against a L.A. that is completely corrupt is something that you know how to utilize to provide a gritty noir atmosphere. Your plotting with the characters aligning and betraying each other almost at whim is as dense and intricate as ever. Your style of short sentences in a stream of consciousness patter as the perspective shifts from character to character is still sharp, and you retain the knack of writing scenes of brutal violence that seem to pass in moments yet leave lasting effects.”“That’s the positive side. Please tell me where you think the book was lacking.”“While some longtime fans will be delighted at the way you’ve incorporated so many characters from your other books, it also brings some of the problems inherent to prequels into the mix.”“Explain.”“If you know that a character is alive and has a career with the police department in a book set after Perfidia, then I know that they will not die or lose their job in this book despite anything that may occur. This naturally removes some of the drama.”“Naturally. Please continue.”“If not done well, the characters may act in ways or accumulate knowledge that seems at odds with the other incarnation. For example,(view spoiler)[ the idea that Dudley Smith is the father of Elizabeth Short, the Black Dahlia, is something that is pretty shocking and wasn’t even hinted at that I can recall in his previous appearances. (hide spoiler)]“I understand the point. Move on."“Usually your books take place over a period of months or years. This allows for on-going events and new information to change the perspectives and motives of characters. Since this novel occurs entirely in the weeks immediately after Pearl Harbor, the time frame is greatly condensed from your usual work yet you incorporate as many betrayals, shocking revelations and changes of allegiances as your other books. This makes all of the characters seem rushed and erratic. Plus, everyone in the book seems to have an amazing ability to look into the future. None of the major players seem that concerned about the war with the Japanese. All of them somehow immediately know that the war will be won and that there will future tension between America and Russia.”“Are there any other things you consider shortcomings of the book you would like to share?“You also use some of the same phrases and tricks here that seem in danger of becoming tropes of your work.”“State some examples.”“Using short sentences to indicate a series of actions. For example, ‘Dudley winked. Dudley scratched. Dudley howled….’““And?”“And characters making instant judgments and psychoanalysis of each other that is 100% accurate.”“And?”“And repeatedly using the word ‘and’ as a way of continuing the flow of information.”“Very droll, Mr. Kemper. And?”“And you really got into this thing where a lot of the dialogue is someone demanding information in a blunt and condescending fashion. You used to save that for when one had a definite edge on another, like J. Edgar Hoover interrogating an underling, but it seemed like it happened on almost every page in this book. These conversations also frequently have one person delivering a set of orders.”“You have communicated your viewpoint, Mr. Kemper. You will write up a review on Perfidia. You will give it no less than three stars. You may bring up the points you have outlined here, but you will still credit my work as still being an enjoyable read. You will also praise my ability to create damaged characters operating in amoral ways for selfish reasons at a street level and use them to illustrate broader themes on subjects like the effect of History on the individual. Once you have completed this review, you will post it on Goodreads. If you don’t do this, I’ll engage in another trope of mine, and have you shot in the face repeatedly. Do you agree, Mr. Kemper?”“One three star review of Perfidia coming right up!”Also posted at Kemper's Book Blog.
    more
  • Cassy
    January 1, 1970
    Vacuuming. I loathe vacuuming. It is outranked in its futility and annoyance only by laundry. Thus, I read and read while my house becomes dirtier and dirtier. Until Perfidia. That fateful afternoon, when I put down Perfidia - unable to force myself to read any longer - and did the unthinkable.I start with the staircase, which is the easiest and most gratifying part of the house to vacuum given its hardwood floors and lack of obstacles. Begone powdery dirt and mud clumps! I reach the top of the Vacuuming. I loathe vacuuming. It is outranked in its futility and annoyance only by laundry. Thus, I read and read while my house becomes dirtier and dirtier. Until Perfidia. That fateful afternoon, when I put down Perfidia - unable to force myself to read any longer - and did the unthinkable.I start with the staircase, which is the easiest and most gratifying part of the house to vacuum given its hardwood floors and lack of obstacles. Begone powdery dirt and mud clumps! I reach the top of the stairs and have a clear line of vision to both the couch in the living room and the closet where I could now stow the vacuum.I look from Perfidia, perched on the couch, to the vacuum in my hands. Perfidia. Vacuum. Decision.I continue to vacuum the main floor, starting with the brown area rug that sheds wool as though it is a creature in heat. On my hands and knees, I vacuum underneath the bookshelves — sucking up the fist-sized tumbleweeds composed of the fur of two cats and two long-haired dogs. I navigate the twenty-four chair legs under the dining table. I scour the dreaded zone around the litter box for those pesky, piss-saturated particles that roll for miles. I sweep the pizza crust crumbs off the kitchen counter (have I really eaten that much pizza?) and into the vacuum’s ravenous path. I am slippery with sweat and have reached a natural stopping point as everything on this floor has been cleared.I look from Perfidia to the vacuum. Perfidia. Vacuum. Decision.I drag the vacuum to the base of the next staircase: the dreaded, carpeted staircase. Each of its sixteen stairs requires multiple passes, each time using a different attachment. No bristles. Bristles. For the edges. For the flat surfaces. I eventually reach the top. My back aches. I could wrap up the vacuum’s cord and call it quits. Perfidia. Vacuum. Decision.I vacuum the top floor of the house. The bathroom tiles, which have been delicately laced with hair - hair so long it could only be mine. Under the nightstands. Behind the headboard. In the dark recesses of the closet. Around the piles of books on the office floor. I am exhausted. My house has not been cleaner in weeks, perhaps months. The carpet looks two shades lighter.Perfidia. Vacuum. Decision.I empty the vacuum's bag for the third time. I have nearly filled a trash bag with the detritus. I descend the two flights of stairs to the trash can in the garage. I return to my new friend and gently lay it on its side before attacking the long fibers stuck in the bristles with scissors. Later, I set the vacuum upright and slowly wind the electrical cord around and around and around.My thoughts return to Perfidia. Obscenely huge with its 691 pages. Confusing with its large cast of characters and lack of explanation. Staccato in its writing. Crude and blunt. Baffling popularity.Screw Perfidia. I start a load of laundry.
    more
  • Greg
    January 1, 1970
    I would think that since James Ellroy is one of my favorite living novelists that I’d check every now and then to see if a new book is in the works. Nope. I think I treat all my favorites as Pynchon’s, new books may come out at some point but they will be rare like unicorns so it’s not worth poking around to see if you can find one (and this would be a sad way to find unicorns because you’re guaranteed to probably never find on if you never look). But my lack of awareness paid off nicely when af I would think that since James Ellroy is one of my favorite living novelists that I’d check every now and then to see if a new book is in the works. Nope. I think I treat all my favorites as Pynchon’s, new books may come out at some point but they will be rare like unicorns so it’s not worth poking around to see if you can find one (and this would be a sad way to find unicorns because you’re guaranteed to probably never find on if you never look). But my lack of awareness paid off nicely when after months of putting off looking through any of the Book Expo of America (BEA) materials I finally succumbed on the night before it started and saw, James Ellory is signing at 3pm at Random House. One might think that at this point I’d fire up the magic machine that gives information about all kinds of things and look up James Ellory and New Book, or maybe even go to the little search function at the top of this page and type in James Ellroy and see what his new book was. Nope. Didn’t do that either, which wouldn’t have been difficult since I was on this magical information giving machine at the time.Instead I typed Random House - Friday, 2pm David Mitchell, 3pm James Ellroy and added to a magical program on the machine that would allow me to see what I typed on the first magical machine on an equally magical pocket sized version of the machine. What wondrous times we live in. My lack of initiative to find out what exactly I was going to be getting signed by James Ellroy didn’t stop me from bothering Karen with questions about what the book could be. Do you think it’s a long book? Do you think it is one of those very nice looking re-issues with a Chip Kidd cover but which are ultimately kind of unsatisfying? Do you think it’s a continuation of the American Trilogy? Of course Karen didn’t know, and maybe some of these questions I kept to myself but I did wonder about them and again I did nothing to satisfy my curiosity. This all lead to a nice surprise. First that I’d get to have anything signed by James Ellory, who I hadn’t even thought might be at BEA and second because it was a major novel. I didn’t realize this though until a few seconds before he signed a copy of the book and handed it to me though. Even when I finally broke down and looked up to see what I’d be standing in line to get I still only gave a cursory glance at the description and felt a little disappointed, Japanese Americans, World War 2, Los Angeles. I wanted some American History to keep on rolling from where his last novel left off. Give the dirt and collusion on Reagan’s America, slander the Clintons. You don’t always get what you want. Still reading? After a fairly unsatisfying moment of getting to meet James Ellroy, I leafed through the new tome in my hands and thought, wow, this is going to be awesome. I saw the book ended with a list of characters and where else they appear in the seven novels that make up the LA and Underworld series of novels. Saw that this was the first of a quartet that would be part of the same world but come before the start of The Black Dahlia. Saw lots of familiar names. Hello, old morally dubious friends!And of course this was the first thing I read as soon as I got home from BEA (ok this is a lie, I finished the new Hardcase Lawrence Block that I got about two hours before Perfidia, but I had started it while waiting on the Random House lines, so while technically a BEA book it shouldn’t count). There were so many books that I’d picked up in the few days there that I was excited to read, but none of them had any chance of being read before this 700 page novel (which Ellroy says is his longest page count novel, I feel like his last couple were longer, but it might have just been the scope and writing style that packed so much more into the pages than this one did).Preambling enough I should talk about the book. The title comes from a song, specifically the Glenn Miller version of it. You can listen to it while reading the rest of this review, or just imagine that you’re part of Dudley Smith’s opium induced imagination: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E0Skao...It starts on December 6th, 1941. A Saturday morning with a stake out of a pharmacy that had been held up multiple times in the past month. LAPD’s only Japanese cop has created a device to take pictures automatically of every license plate that parks in front of the pharmacy. He and Ray Pinker sit and watch to see if the device works and it isn’t long before the store is held up. This is how Ellroy decided to start his saga that would result in all the bad shit that goes down through the seven other books. A simple armed robbery. Later in the day a Japanese family is found dead in their house. Mom, dad, their panty sniffing pervy son, and young daughter. Seppuku. A note about the coming apocalypse. December 6th. The next morning, obviously, is Pearl Harbor. The story is told from four perspectives, with each chapter switching from one to the other (this can get a little confusing it spots because after the first go around you aren’t told whose perspective you are seeing, you just have to remember that it goes Hideo Ashida, Kay Lake, William Parker, Dudley Smith. This isn’t usually difficult but there are a couple of spots when the characters start colluding where it took me a bit to figure out where we were)Ashida is the only Japanese cop on the LAPD mentioned above. Kay Lake is a young dilettante with dubious morals. William Parker is a real-life LAPD cop and would be the chief of police in the 1950’s and 60’s. And finally Dudley Smith, the menacing villain through much of the original LA Quartet.This novel follows the last weeks of 1941 as World War 2 is beginning for the United States. Japanese-Americans in Los Angeles are being rounded up and internment camps are looming as the new must-be places to live of February, 1942. As civil-rights are being trampled, the case of the Japanese family is turned into a public relations tool. Corruption is everywhere and all four of the main characters are colluding for various advantages of life during wartime. It’s fairly standard Ellroy stuff. A few really tough guys holding each other by the balls while pointing a throw down piece at the other one’s head; and some people who have to collude with these tough guys if they are going to survive. But it’s in these conspiracies within conspiracies that Ellroy excels, and the scale might be smaller than in American Tabloid where a president ultimately gets killed by these schemes but they are still just as engaging to read. The stand out in this novel was Dudley Smith. It’s been years since I read the LA Quartet, so some of my memories are hazy, but what I remember in those was Dudley Smith as a looming menace. An untouchable, corrupt and brutal cop who let nothing get in his way. Here we see the rise of Dudley Smith, he’s already the exemplar of the brutal Irish cop, but there is also the humane side of him exposed. He comes across more like Pete Bondurant would become as his story unfolded in The Cold Six Thousand. I’m probably going to remember this book as the Ballad of Dudley Smith(spoiler for those who have read Black Dahlia(view spoiler)[Was he the father of Elizabeth Short in the original novel? I don’t remember him being so, I’ll have to go back and read that one when I get the time (hide spoiler)]). Was this book five stars? Maybe not. It probably isn’t as good as LA Confidential or the first two books of the Underworld trilogy. But still it was quite good. The writing wasn’t as bare bones as what Ellroy was achieving in his last three major novels. It was more a return to the style he wrote in during the beginning of the LA Quartet. It’s still fairly to the point without much excess baggage, but it doesn’t run like a maniac hopped up on bennies. At one point towards the end of the novel Ellroy writes about seven and a half pages in ‘normal prose’ and even though it should have been the part of the story that brought a lot of the threads together it was a slog to get through. Ellroy’s a great writer when he is writing in his style but when he left that style it was all kinds of clunky, or maybe it was just jarring after 658 pages of tightness. For Ellroy fans this is going to be a must-read. It’s a bazillion times better as a prequel than anything George Lucas ever came up with. For Ellroy neophytes I’d recommend starting at the beginning of either other series. A lot of what is great about this book is seeing many of these characters in their relatively more innocent states. The one thing I was thinking about right after I finished this book is how good of an HBO series these books would make. I’m thinking a True Detective style for shifting through eras with the same characters meets Game of Thrones and The Wire. I’ll be looking forward to seeing the a season wrap up with a musical montage of Unchained Melody and the trigger about to be pulled on JFK.
    more
  • brian
    January 1, 1970
    awesome. just... awesome. one of the best portraits of obsession in all of fiction.one of those books that just tractor beams the reader, grinds her up, and shits her out. blast me forth from your rectum, mr. ellroy! gobble me whole and crap me out! do it do it do it! it's awe-inspiring what ellroy does here: grabs tons of characters from his First LA Quartet* (perfidia is book one of the Second LA Quartet) and Underworld USA Trilogy** and throws 'em into his most densely plotted and highly char awesome. just... awesome. one of the best portraits of obsession in all of fiction.one of those books that just tractor beams the reader, grinds her up, and shits her out. blast me forth from your rectum, mr. ellroy! gobble me whole and crap me out! do it do it do it! it's awe-inspiring what ellroy does here: grabs tons of characters from his First LA Quartet* (perfidia is book one of the Second LA Quartet) and Underworld USA Trilogy** and throws 'em into his most densely plotted and highly charged environment yet. doesn't get better. so why not 5 stars? well, ellroy's plotting is so dense, brutal, and bombastic that one simply feels pummeled. it's exhilerating, but a kind of 'diminishing returns' syndrome sets in whereby the reader simply cannot maintain the level of excitement and focus that ellroy demands. it's a conunudrum: the benzedrine and blood fueled mania creates an effect that a few nice n' easy moments would distrupt; however, the reader just cannot maintain for 700 pgs of this stuff w/o some nice n' easy.THANK YOU KAREN BRISSETTE!!!!* Black Dahlia, The Big Nowhere, L.A. Confidential, White Jazz** American Tabloid, The Cold Six-Thousand, Blood's A Rover
    more
  • Anthony Vacca
    January 1, 1970
    When it comes to crime fiction I cut my teeth, hell, I fractured my fucking jaw on James Ellroy's LA Quartet. And as far as I am concerned, many imitate the man's style but this particular king is in no danger of being dethroned in this lifetime. Every handful of years or so, when a new backbreaker by Ellroy struts onto the bookstore shelf, I'm one of the first suckers clawing my way through the pages. I'll go on the record and say that, since Ellroy wrote The Black Dahlia and began his long tas When it comes to crime fiction I cut my teeth, hell, I fractured my fucking jaw on James Ellroy's LA Quartet. And as far as I am concerned, many imitate the man's style but this particular king is in no danger of being dethroned in this lifetime. Every handful of years or so, when a new backbreaker by Ellroy struts onto the bookstore shelf, I'm one of the first suckers clawing my way through the pages. I'll go on the record and say that, since Ellroy wrote The Black Dahlia and began his long task of rewriting the last half of 20th century American history as a sleazy pulp novel, he has redefined what a crime novel is capable of. Ellroy's L.A. is a world where cops are criminals, politicians are criminals, where everyone is a criminal, and occasionally some of these criminals aren't as terrible of monsters as the rest. Neither optimism nor nostalgia are notions Ellroy tries to sell his readers.Sadly, Perfidia, which is supposed to launch a prequel quartet of novels that will tie together all the strings of his LA Quartet and his Underworld U.S.A trilogy into one cohesive work, crumbles under its own ambition, and Ellroy's Ellroy-ness as a writer is completely to blame. I don't really have the heart to take the scalpel to this book; and besides, fellow Ellroy devotee Kemper did a wonderful job at pointing out all the cracks in the Ellroy façade in his own review, and in a much more thoughtful and creative way than I can imagine. His beefs are my beefs with the writing, the plotting and the historical context. I will briefly add that several of the characters who serve as this novel's protagonists have played large roles in previous, chronologically later installments, and much of the information that is revealed about them, as well as their actions during these wild days after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, don't match up with what has already been written, which goes against Ellroy's whole mission statement of making this series of (tentatively) eleven books gel together as one, long-as-life uber-novel. Also, knowing the fate of every character in the book removes a lot of the tension of wondering who the hell is going to manage to walk away from this book alive? (For those not in the know, Ellroy is most likely the originator of the literary trope of having one character empty an entire clip of a gun, point blank, into the head of another character.But why three stars? Because it is still an Ellroy. It's a big, bold, incredibly violent, wild, densely plotted, rude, nightmarish, sexy, morally reprehensible novel written in a completely idiosyncratic bee-bop staccato of simple sentences. New readers may find a lot to love in this book. Me? I'm just hoping he works out some of these kinks by next book.
    more
  • Roman Clodia
    January 1, 1970
    Big, bold and uncompromising, if you haven’t read Ellroy before this probably isn’t a good place to start. His 'house style', unique, eclectic, perhaps even eccentric, full of police and other slang which he never deigns to explain, is on full display here and we just have to plunge ourselves into his corrupt and tainted world and find our way as best we can. Ellroy is an uncompromising writer: we either accept his world on his terms or we get out. All the same, there are places where the clippe Big, bold and uncompromising, if you haven’t read Ellroy before this probably isn’t a good place to start. His 'house style', unique, eclectic, perhaps even eccentric, full of police and other slang which he never deigns to explain, is on full display here and we just have to plunge ourselves into his corrupt and tainted world and find our way as best we can. Ellroy is an uncompromising writer: we either accept his world on his terms or we get out. All the same, there are places where the clipped, laconic tone starts to feel a bit like a parody of itself, something I didn't feel in the earlier books.Set in 1941 around the time of Pearl Harbour: a Japanese family is found dead, and with a Japanese investigator on the case while his compatriots are being interned, the racial politics of the book are fraught. Characters from the earlier books (later in terms of chronology) abound and some of the opaque elements of The Black Dahlia and L.A. Confidential are explained (the troubling sexless relationship between Kay Lake and Lee Blanchard) while we get a shocking revelation about Elizabeth Short (the Dahlia) and spend quite a lot of time within the mind of Dudley Smith as well as hearing some of the events that have made him who he is. I was quite unsure about the latter with its rather pat bad-childhood-psychopathic-adult easy connection.Don’t come to this expecting a linear, defined story. Ellory’s characters are defined by slippery dialogue and contested actions, rather than by what a minimal narrative-expository voice might say about them, and it helps if you’ve met them before in the earlier books set in the 1950s. So this is the kind of book that I sometimes felt lost in but even when I had no idea what was happening, it remains unputdownable. A dense, stubborn book which refuses to accommodate itself to a reader’s convenience - Ellroy does my head in... but in a good way!
    more
  • Kathryn
    January 1, 1970
    I have so few auto-buy authors these days. I used to have many, but one by one I drop them when the stories turn predictable and the writing stale. One actually died, but anyway...Ellroy is heavy reading, and his dirty staccato style is what makes the scenery come alive. If you've glommed the rest of his catalog you know several players here - Perfidia is a prequel of sorts to his other series. It begins just before the attack on Pearl Harbor with the murder of a Japanese family in LA. Throughou I have so few auto-buy authors these days. I used to have many, but one by one I drop them when the stories turn predictable and the writing stale. One actually died, but anyway...Ellroy is heavy reading, and his dirty staccato style is what makes the scenery come alive. If you've glommed the rest of his catalog you know several players here - Perfidia is a prequel of sorts to his other series. It begins just before the attack on Pearl Harbor with the murder of a Japanese family in LA. Throughout the investigation the story peels away layers to reveal corruption within the police force, sympathies for opposing forces, and a lot of bad language. Ellroy doesn't write rainbows and unicorns.The only problem I have with Ellroy's books is I have to go back and read the others again to jar my memory. One day I'll sit and have a good binge.~As much as I love books, I don't explode into rainbows often when I hear of a pending release, but but but new James Ellroy.
    more
  • F.R.
    January 1, 1970
    I guess when the notion of shared ownership was developed for the movies – so that the various Marvel superheroes movies and forthcoming Star Wars films all share characters and plots – James Ellroy was one of the lucky recipients of the original memo. As here we have the first of a new series of crime novels which link directly into his L.A Quartet and The Underworld USA Trilogy (and I will personally be disappointed if there aren’t references to his much less well regarded Lloyd Hopkins trilog I guess when the notion of shared ownership was developed for the movies – so that the various Marvel superheroes movies and forthcoming Star Wars films all share characters and plots – James Ellroy was one of the lucky recipients of the original memo. As here we have the first of a new series of crime novels which link directly into his L.A Quartet and The Underworld USA Trilogy (and I will personally be disappointed if there aren’t references to his much less well regarded Lloyd Hopkins trilogy). This is a prequel, so younger versions of characters from both those series appear here. And as a prequel it comes with the normal prequel problems: if we’ve read the original quartet a certain amount of jeopardy and danger is removed as we know which of these characters have to survive; furthermore, why don’t the characters in the later set, but earlier written, novels mention anything about the events of this book? That’s the problem of writing a prequel in a shared universe, so much is already set in concrete.But incredibly we have more than just the usual – as Ellroy has given himself an elephant of a continuity problem by early on making clear that Elizabeth Short, notable victim in the original LA Quartet, is the daughter of Dudley Smith, the symbol of all roguish policemen in the same books. Surely there’s no indication of that anywhere in the original quartet, and it’s such a jarring link that one can only wonder why Ellroy thought it was a good idea. It’s like the joke in the last Austin Powers film that Austin and Dr Evil are brothers, but that joke done for real by Ian Fleming for James Bond and Blofeld in some lost novel after ‘You Only Live Twice’. Maybe it’s a decision that will work better later on in this new quartet, but right now it feels like an author having a character he likes and just shoe-horning her in any way he can.It’s December 1941, on the eve of, and right after, Pearl Harbour. Two LA cops, Dudley Smith and William Parker, as well as police chemist, Hideo Ashida, find themselves investigating the brutal murder of a Japanese family and – this being Ellroy – dealing with the kind of personal demons which would fill an entire sub-strata of hell.The fact that this is the second LA Quartet suggests immediately that it’s more closely related to ‘The Black Dahlia’, ‘LA Confidential’, ‘The Big Nowhere’ and ‘White Jazz’ than the other books. That’s positive as it makes for a experience less hysterical and more focused than those later novels. It’s not as good a novel though as those in the original LA Quartet, as it’s still a bit hysterical and can probably be more focused, but it’s aiming for the same targets and hits a lot of the time. If you like those books, you’ll buy into this.Just a note though on the language: Ellroy will argue that the reason there is so much racism and questionable social attitudes in his work is that this is how his characters would have spoken, what they would have believed. I can accept that. But then he’s clearly having so much fun with the racism and with the various anti-homosexual/anti-women/anti-‘anyone who isn’t a red blooded, white, American male’ barbs, insults and slurs, that it mitigates his argument somewhat. Can he really say that he’s just representing his character’s belief system when he’s clearly in love with the rhythm and pace he gets from using racial epithets in every other sentence? I can see why some people wouldn’t get too far into this book (or into most other works by Ellroy, for that matter); and I also know why people like me – who are well disposed to this type of fiction and to this author in particular – can enjoy it whilst still being made to feel a tad uncomfortable.
    more
  • Magdalena aka A Bookaholic Swede
    January 1, 1970
    DNF at 45 %!A couple of years ago I studied theology and some books I read was good and some books were bloody awful and almost impossible to get through. But one had to. But this one I don't have to finish so now I'm throwing in the towel, saying adiós amigo...Hasta la vista baby!Ps. I will read Black Dahlia someday, hopefully, that book will be better!Thank you Netgalley for providing me with a free copy for an honest review!
    more
  • Philippe Malzieu
    January 1, 1970
    Did Ellroy find the peace ? In all his précédents books, ther was a kind of fury, a rage. He vas haunted by the unpunished murder of his mother. The black daliha was the cristalization of his neurosis.Here Ellroy work as usual. He spendt a long time in the LA Library searching old news in archiv. This informations allow him to write his books.The subject is largely unknown and a little exotic. It is about the position of american people Japanese origin at the begining of WWII : murder, vexation. Did Ellroy find the peace ? In all his précédents books, ther was a kind of fury, a rage. He vas haunted by the unpunished murder of his mother. The black daliha was the cristalization of his neurosis.Here Ellroy work as usual. He spendt a long time in the LA Library searching old news in archiv. This informations allow him to write his books.The subject is largely unknown and a little exotic. It is about the position of american people Japanese origin at the begining of WWII : murder, vexation...A choral novel, with many carachters. I made a mistake in having a break at the middle. It was difficult to all remember when I read it again.This distance with his subject give a less passionnate tone. And so it is a kind of "comédie humaine", less thriller, a true novel.Ellroy, our LA Balzac.
    more
  • Mark
    January 1, 1970
    Before I get into it all allow me to make a few statements for context; I have read every one of Elloy's novels. My first exposure came in the form of his short story "High Darktown" which introduced me to "The Black Dahlia" protagonist Officer Lee Blanchard and his obsessions and demons. I was hooked. I devoured every word the man wrote before and since. My favorite piece is still "White Jazz"-the last of the LA Quartet and a sizzling piece of literature that still speaks to me in both style an Before I get into it all allow me to make a few statements for context; I have read every one of Elloy's novels. My first exposure came in the form of his short story "High Darktown" which introduced me to "The Black Dahlia" protagonist Officer Lee Blanchard and his obsessions and demons. I was hooked. I devoured every word the man wrote before and since. My favorite piece is still "White Jazz"-the last of the LA Quartet and a sizzling piece of literature that still speaks to me in both style and substance. This new work is part of a new quartet of novels that will link the LA Quartet and the Underground Trilogy into one massive work that technically spans the years 1910-1972 and creates one whole body of work. I applaud the level of detail and the eye that Ellroy has for the city of LA which he is undoubtedly the Noire Poet Laureate of. If you are looking for a good old fashioned tale of dirty cops and the dirty deeds they do the look no further. The main character of Perfidia is none other than the notorious Dudley Liam Smith who fans will recognize from his role in the LA quartet as being one of the most evil cops ever to wear a badge. The story is pretty straightforward; Smith and a brilliant Japanese ME-Hideo Ashida- must solve a string of murders during the period of the attack on pearl harbor. In fact the book takes place in real time from Dec. 6th to Dec. 29th. Soon enough Smith and Ashida find themselves cavorting in a war torn racist, and savagely immoral LA where cops, historical figures, and Hollywood starlets cross paths and indulge in a variety of self destructive behaviors as a shadowy remorseless conspiracy threatens to destroy anybody caught near in its bloody vortex. Its vintage Ellroy replete with crackling dialogue, and enough gore to satisfy his most jaded devotee. So what's the problem you ask? Three major ones in my opinion. The first one is Dudley Smith is a character beyond redemption and following his exploits is much like reading "Killer on the Road" only there is no release from the evil deeds that Smith perpetrates. The idea of a it takes evil to beat evil wears thin and the attempts to humanize such a monstrous figure fall flat. Secondly Ellroy is simply incapable of writing ethnic characters convincingly. Ashida seems more like a collection of CSI like devices to move the investigation forward instead of a real character. Combine that with the over used trope of him being in the closet and you get a lukewarm version of something Ellroy has done before and much better in the form of Deputy Danny Upshaw from the Big Nowhere. The fact that Ashida worships these bad white men and will do anything to stay in their world is a bit color blind but doesn't ring true in its execution. Much like the way the Marshall Bowen character fails in Blood's a rover. Ellroy's white world, while entertaining for its banality, is far too self conscious to explore the obvious racism of the time. Characters just accept it and there roles thinking that their mere existence is the push back. Lastly the other big character in the book is real life future chief of police William H. Parker who Ellroy molds into a character that seems more suitable to his world. Frankly the characterization is so contrived and off the mark that those section are not only difficult to read they are nearly unbelievable. But hey this is a work of fiction so that is a matter of taste and style. I am sure that some will love this book and herald it as Ellroy's return to the genre he loves. My problem is I've been sent this love letter by him before.
    more
  • William Johnson
    January 1, 1970
    You ever see those bumper stickers on the back of Jeeps or Land Rovers showing the world (or any of us frustrated dads-who-are-late-to-pick-up-the-kids who happen to be stuck behind them) that they completed a treacherous, horrifyingly demanding physical trial called Ragnarok or Tough Mudder or Soul Carver or something? I think I need one of those bumper stickers that says Perfidia 2014 or 'I survived Perfidia 2014' or 'It took seven months but I finished Perfidia god damn it'. I don't mean this You ever see those bumper stickers on the back of Jeeps or Land Rovers showing the world (or any of us frustrated dads-who-are-late-to-pick-up-the-kids who happen to be stuck behind them) that they completed a treacherous, horrifyingly demanding physical trial called Ragnarok or Tough Mudder or Soul Carver or something? I think I need one of those bumper stickers that says Perfidia 2014 or 'I survived Perfidia 2014' or 'It took seven months but I finished Perfidia god damn it'. I don't mean this totally in anger. James Ellroy is a legend and despite the fact that this book was, at times, perilous and disastrous, I finished it because I respect the shit out of the man and his style. Even though it took forever to finish and it doesn't come close to matching his earlier work, Ellroy is still Ellroy and this was Ellroy L.A. and ... well ... you can't say no, even when it hurts.First, what works. Ellroy is, as usual, uncompromising in his view of the world. Don't take racial remarks well or find any sex beyond the missionary position to be 'out there' ... well, be prepared not to take it well and put the book down. Since the main plot centers on America's entrance into World War II right before/during/after the Pearl Harbor attack ... well ... the Japanese don't come across as heroes here.However, while Ellroy doesn't pull any textual punches, his point is clear: the world we USED to live in was wicked and racist and Ellroy has stated many times in interviews he finds the Japanese interment process in this country to be deplorable. However, it makes for one hell of a plot device.So, naturally, when you take sensitive issues, add Ellroy's choice words, and his craft for transporting you to the time period specified ... you get something engaging and often enjoyable.The problems with the book are these:--Acknowledging that his LA Quartet that this new set of books is a prequel to (of sorts) has become legendary, Ellroy believes his own hype and treats the characters we came to know in other books at later stages in their lives and props them to immortality status. Prequels are tough enough when dealing with characters you know survive because it takes almost all the danger out of any dangerous situation. But when the characters start to blur the lines of credible and superhuman, you have a problem.Let's take Dudley Smith. An enigma of a man/monster in the last three books of the LA Quartet (and in the non-canon book Clandestine) who is never quite explained or understood in his appearances is bared for all to see and nearly invincible to the laws of reality. His actions and inner turmoil would fit more in the 'later' books as he is older and has seen more things. However, after reading Perfidia (and the sequels to it ... will Smith appear) and then going to the LA Quartet begs for some consistency. The Dudley I knew in the LA Quartet is not present in Perfidia. Sure, you could say it is because he is younger ... but I chalk it up to expanding the character in directions it shouldn't and doesn't need to go in.The same can be said for many of the characters who appear here and in the LA Quartet. Kay Lake, an important character in The Black Dahlia, is basically living a 'hit the reset button when done' existence in the book and doesn't resemble the character at all she would 'become' in The Black Dahlia. Ellroy puts these characters into a realm they don't fit into and it kind of ruins the 'future' stories in the process.Also, the book is drastically moody. One second it is a crisp police procedural, the next second a scathing, meta-analysis of the coming events of the second World War as if the events are known before they happen, the next second going into a fever dream of madness. For example, a very well crafted murder mystery is interrupted for about 100 pages while Dudley Smith fucks movie stars and interviews a man's penis.The book is about 200 pages too long for the subject matter. One subplot involving real-life Captain Bill Parker taking down a band of Leftist with the aid of Kay Lake, seems completely out of place and disrupts any flow when focusing on the primary murder investigation which, in itself, stretches into many avenues and is, when not interrupted by moments of nuttiness and said Red investigation, quite surprising, intense, and deep.Lastly, the book has to cut corners in the end in order to fit into real world events (the price you pay when using real world people and sticking to 'historical' fiction) and to match events in the LA Quartet. Overall, do I regret reading it? Absolutely not. Do I want a badge showing the hell I went through to finish it? Hell yes! Because while it was great to put it under my belt and helped me become a better reader and writer, it is not something I want to repeat again.
    more
  • Susan
    January 1, 1970
    This roller coaster of a novel takes four central characters from the 6th through to the 29th December, 1941. They all revolve around the LAPD and include two antagonistic Catholic officers; William H. Parker, who is ambitious and wants to be the next Chief of Police and the corrupt Dudley Smith, forensic scientist Hideo Ashida, the only Japanese person employed by the LAPD and Kay Lake, who lives with officer Lee Blanchard and whose life, and interests, seem to orbit around the police force. Th This roller coaster of a novel takes four central characters from the 6th through to the 29th December, 1941. They all revolve around the LAPD and include two antagonistic Catholic officers; William H. Parker, who is ambitious and wants to be the next Chief of Police and the corrupt Dudley Smith, forensic scientist Hideo Ashida, the only Japanese person employed by the LAPD and Kay Lake, who lives with officer Lee Blanchard and whose life, and interests, seem to orbit around the police force. The book begins with a drugstore robbery and the murder of a Japanese family. Events escalate with the bombing of Pearl Harbour, catapulting America into the war and causing immense problems for the Japanese citizens of LA. However, although patriotism abounds on the streets, many are looking either beyond the war, or to what profit can be made from current events. This is a huge novel and it encompasses some fairly big themes: race, religion, betrayal, obsession, organised crime, corruption, fear and betrayal. If you have read anything by James Ellroy before, you will have some idea of his style. This is gritty noir at its best, with a great deal of violence.As Japanese Americans begin to be rounded up and interned, Ashida tries to make himself essential to both Smith and Parker, in hope that he can avoid the same fate. Meanwhile, Parker recruits Kay to infiltrate a Hollywood fifth column cell and the murder of the Japanese family needs to solved as a PR exercise which will not necessarily reflect the truth. As well as the four main characters, there are an array of other people who flesh out the plot; from young recruit Scotty Bennett, who faces a shocking start to his career in the police force, boxer Bucky Bleichert, Ace Kwan, who always looks to make money from every situation, the wealthy and left wing party girl, Claire De Haven, and cameo appearances from everyone from Bette Davis to a young JFK. This is not, however, a pretty portrait of LA. James Ellroy, as you might expect if you have entered his fictional worlds before, creates a dark and gritty underbelly of a city full of drugs, corruption and crime. This is a fantastic novel and will demand both your time and attention, before leaving you both exhausted and hoping for another book featuring the same characters. Thankfully, this is the first in a new LA Quartet and, if you have read the first (The Black Dahlia, The Big Nowhere, LA Confidential and White Jazz), you will find links and characters from both these books and his Underworld US trilogy (American Tabloid, The Cold Six Thousand and Blood’s a Rover). In fact, in an interview, Ellroy suggested that this new quartet will make, “his oeuvre as a historical novelist one inextricable 11-novel whole.” However, despite the fact that characters have appeared in previous books, it is perfectly possible to read this new novel without having read any of his previous works. Lastly, I received a copy of this book from the publishers, via NetGalley, for review.
    more
  • Josh
    January 1, 1970
    A crime fiction epic set amid the backdrop of Peal Harbor, PERFIDIA, is densely rich in characterisation and bedded down with intrinsically linked sub plots that can, at times, be off-putting but ultimately rewarding. The first book in the Second LA Quartet, PERFIDIA reads familiar for those who have read James Ellroy's previous novels. Characters such as Kay Lake, Lee Blanchard, and Bucky Bleichert are re-imaged as their younger counterparts embroiled in a sinister sleep deprived state of uncer A crime fiction epic set amid the backdrop of Peal Harbor, PERFIDIA, is densely rich in characterisation and bedded down with intrinsically linked sub plots that can, at times, be off-putting but ultimately rewarding. The first book in the Second LA Quartet, PERFIDIA reads familiar for those who have read James Ellroy's previous novels. Characters such as Kay Lake, Lee Blanchard, and Bucky Bleichert are re-imaged as their younger counterparts embroiled in a sinister sleep deprived state of uncertain seduction and apprehensive allegiance to morals following the bombing of Pearl Harbor. This period of flux fraternisation of the film and citizen population leads to a myopic perception of post Pearl Harbor peril compounded by corrupt police and agenda rampant public figures. I found the best way to read this 700pg plus book was to read significant chunks each day. Stopping and starting will quickly get you lost. The core and ensemble cast all have prominent moments throughout so taking the time to read slloooowwly pays off. PERFIDIA is a not a novel you can gleam over passages despite how tempting it is. James Ellroy does employ the use of a fair amount of filler content which can, at times, be difficult to wade through but the gamble of missing something crucial to proceedings isn't worth undertaking - in my opinion. Review first appeared on my blog: http://justaguythatlikes2read.blogspo...
    more
  • Carol Storm
    January 1, 1970
    I have to give this book two stars because THE BLACK DAHLIA and LA CONFIDENTIAL are the best crime novels ever written. James Ellroy is my hero and always will be, no matter how much he's gone down hill since then. But if those two books were STICKY FINGERS and EXILE ON MAIN STREET, PERFIDIA isn't even GOAT'S HEAD SOUP. I don't even know where to begin with this review. Hundreds upon hundreds of things that just didn't ring true, weirdly clueless dialogue, insanely implausible plot points, chara I have to give this book two stars because THE BLACK DAHLIA and LA CONFIDENTIAL are the best crime novels ever written. James Ellroy is my hero and always will be, no matter how much he's gone down hill since then. But if those two books were STICKY FINGERS and EXILE ON MAIN STREET, PERFIDIA isn't even GOAT'S HEAD SOUP. I don't even know where to begin with this review. Hundreds upon hundreds of things that just didn't ring true, weirdly clueless dialogue, insanely implausible plot points, characters who start out over the top and just get more and more ridiculous over time. Ellroy favorites (like Dudley Smith) and Ellroy failures (like Kay Lake) are resurrected and forced to travesty themselves with scant regard to probability and common sense. Over and over. Dudley Smith used to be an enticing enigma, a menacing and mysterious embodiment of evil. In the classic Ellroy universe, he's somewhere between Darth Vader and Sauron, only cooler than both of them. But you know, a little Dudley goes a long way. When you don't know much about him, he's awe-inspiring. In this book you know too much. Much too much information! A cop who terrifies other cops can't be shown smoking opium, popping Benzedrine, and talking to imaginary wolves, and at the same time romancing real life movie legend Bette Davis. The more Dudley does the less Dudley he becomes. Remember when he was subtle and malignant? Now he's a scenery chewing psycho, shooting Japs in broad daylight and laughing maniacally while making vague noises about land grabs and plastic surgery schemes.I just don't want to talk about the "plot" of this novel. It made no sense. Let's capture Japanese citizens and give them plastic surgery so they all look Chinese. Then we can steal their businesses and blame it on the mysterious werewolf killer who really works for Joe Kennedy, or Harry Cohn, or Herbert Hoover, or . . .I miss the days when you could read James Ellroy without cracking up laughing every five pages. Oh, and how about that Kay Lake? Has there ever been a less convincing femme fatale? Reading her "diary" is the worst part of this book. The crazed cops and confused conspiracies are at least mildly amusing, in a camp way. But Kay Lake is so tiresome, so "dig how cool I am," so unconvincing as a seductress, a martyr, a saint, a tough girl, a patriot, a traitor . . . she just remains opaque from every angle. I wish someone could have given her the tea with the slow-acting Japanese poison, and then fed her to the all-Japanese werewolf squad!Speaking of the Japanese, I understand Ellroy is too hopped up on his own private obsessions to bother with basic research, or external reality. But I just had to take a break from the book when he mentioned "Buddhist rituals from 2000 BC." Buddha wasn't born till 300 AD, in India. His teachings didn't reach Japan till three hundred years later, around 600 AD. Talk about phoning it in!I can't even begin to describe how fake and stupid the World War II intrigue stuff is. A 12 year-old kid would ridicule the absurdities. Japanese subs come and go like downtown buses, everyone in LA is a Jap sympathizer, yet the moment our heroes capture a Jap sub they just "blow it up" on their own initiative, murdering the Japanese sailors inside. Gee, no chance the U.S. Navy might like to look at the sub? No chance anyone other than maniacal cops who talk to imaginary wolves on Benzedrine might want to interview the sailors? Hundreds of pages of Ellroy goofing on the forbidden thrills of illicit plastic surgery, or the sexually charged agonies of a hopeless alcoholic trying to dry himself out. Maybe five pages of real crime, real racial violence, and real-life police work. I think everyone who reads this book to the end should get to eat free for one year at Ace Kwan's!
    more
  • Lou
    January 1, 1970
    James Ellroy you master craftsman, you devil with details.Dennis Lehane in his review said “Ellroy’s prose style had transformed into a staccato bebop” and i agree.He can give it to you in rat a tat formation with short, sharp, shock, prose, and then he gives it to you elegant, with the narrative of one female protagonist in chapters that are from her journal on all that devil in the details.Characters at odds with each other, race troubles, pearl harbour in the backdrop, its all happening in th James Ellroy you master craftsman, you devil with details.Dennis Lehane in his review said “Ellroy’s prose style had transformed into a staccato bebop” and i agree.He can give it to you in rat a tat formation with short, sharp, shock, prose, and then he gives it to you elegant, with the narrative of one female protagonist in chapters that are from her journal on all that devil in the details.Characters at odds with each other, race troubles, pearl harbour in the backdrop, its all happening in this Los Angeles tale.His writing of L.A comes from something deep he mentioned in Wall Street Journal “The unsolved murder of my mother in 1958 probably led to my obsession with Los Angeles in the 1940s.”He does his research, he works harder than any other writer, some may not be able to keep up with his way of teling a tale, but those can will be fully immersed in the world, the way Ellroy tells L.A.Two memorable and likeable characters, first and foremost the only man of Japanese nationality employed by the Los Angeles Police Department, Hideo Ashida, and secondly, a prairie girl from Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Kay Lake.This one Kay Lake was told in this narrative:“Your job is entrapment. You are to be a stool pigeon, a snitch, a rat and a fink. If those appellations offend you, chest la guerre. You are an informant. You will collect incriminating information and report it to me. You are a wayward young woman with a traumatically checkered criminal past. I am betting that the Red Queen will find you irresistible.”Sample his short sharp prose here:“Blanchard made the Churchill V sign. Meeks primped in the window reflection. Ashida walked into the drugstore.He imprinted the floor plan. He memorised the witnesses’ faces. He gauged distances geometrically. He moved his eyes, details accrued, he smelled body doors imbued with adrenaline.Two white-coat pharmacists. A suite-and-tie manager. Two old-lady customers. The fat pharmacist had a boil on his neck. The thin pharmacist had the shakes. One old lady was obese. Her vein pattern indicated arterial sclerosis.”“Opium.The world was his channel. His pallet was a lifeboat. The pipe was his guide.He flicked across lovely postcards. He welcomed fellow traveler. Bette Davis joined him. They’re lovers in London. They’re starphangers in the tube.Opium.The pallet, the pipe. Ace Kwan’s basement. He’s here one moment, gone the next.”
    more
  • Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.)
    January 1, 1970
    I have read James Ellroy's novels pretty much ever since he began writing them, and they are all very, very good. And some are stunningly good reads, and Perfidia is just such a novel. In all fairness, I think just a bit of my bias for this determination is associated with the fact that I have encountered most of the characters in this novel in his previous novels. Having said that though, this novel 'carries its own freight,' and is a stand-alone plot in its own right. It does provide a ton of I have read James Ellroy's novels pretty much ever since he began writing them, and they are all very, very good. And some are stunningly good reads, and Perfidia is just such a novel. In all fairness, I think just a bit of my bias for this determination is associated with the fact that I have encountered most of the characters in this novel in his previous novels. Having said that though, this novel 'carries its own freight,' and is a stand-alone plot in its own right. It does provide a ton of back-story though on many of the characters encountered in Ellroy's first "LA Quartet," The Black Dahlia, The Big Nowhere, LA Confidential and White Jazz.Perfidia is a big, thick dark and twisted book that races along at break-neck speed from the day before the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 through the end of December in Los Angeles, California. The entire novel largely pivots around the murder of a Japanese family and the efforts of the LAPD to solve the crime.It is also the story of rampant racism across many cultures in Los Angeles, and after Pearl Harbor much of that vitriolic racism is focused on the Asian community. Additionally, Ellroy has this ability to seamlessly weave historical characters in with his fictional and make it seem completely believable. There are encounters with Joan Crawford, Bette Davis, Eleanor Roosevelt, J. Edgar Hoover, Joseph P. Kennedy, and even the future President, Jack Kennedy. Sure, Perfidia is a mystery, a crime drama, but it is also a hell of a lot more than that. This is the story of city that is well on its way to becoming one of the most important cities in the country, a city full of flawed individuals, some worse than others. A city that is trying to figure out what it means to be part of an America entering World War II, a city that is trying to figure out how it relates to its own multicultural ethnicities. Finally, in an Ellroy novel the boundaries between right and wrong are blurred, if not nonexistent.Perfidia, in Ellroy's words, is the start of his second "LA Quartet," and if this novel is any indication it will be even better than the first. This is an amazingly good novel that grabs you from the get-go and relentlessly holds your attention until the final page is turned. I can't wait to see where Mr. Ellroy takes us from here. Safe to say though that I know it'll continue to explore the dark-side of humanity in the City of Angels, in the Los Angeles that I love and live in.
    more
  • Ronald Koltnow
    January 1, 1970
    To be published by Alfred A.Knopf in September 2014. This review is based on a partially unedited manuscript.Perfidia by Alberto Dominguez (English lyrics by Milton Leeds)"With a sad lament my dreams are faded like a broken melodyWhile the gods of love look down and laugh At what romantic fools we mortals be""Perfidia" is a popular song from the 40s and its lyrics about faithlessness in love fit this Ellroy yarn of the weeks after the attack on Pearl Harbor to a sweaty T. The first in a projecte To be published by Alfred A.Knopf in September 2014. This review is based on a partially unedited manuscript.Perfidia by Alberto Dominguez (English lyrics by Milton Leeds)"With a sad lament my dreams are faded like a broken melodyWhile the gods of love look down and laugh At what romantic fools we mortals be""Perfidia" is a popular song from the 40s and its lyrics about faithlessness in love fit this Ellroy yarn of the weeks after the attack on Pearl Harbor to a sweaty T. The first in a projected trilogy that will fill in the gaps between the L.A. Quarter and the Underworld Trilogy, PERFIDIA features characters from those other novels. Hideo Ashida, who gets a one-line mention in THE BLACK DAHLIA, becomes a central figure in this novel. The central conflict is between the real-life Wm Parker (on whom Gene Roddenberry modeled Spock) and Dudley Smith, The Dudster. Ellroy accomplishes the near-impossible here: he makes Dudley a romantic lead. The plot is about the clash of cultures, betrayal (see the song above),eugenics, proto-facism, and murder in L.A. People try to pigeon-hole Ellroy as a detective writer, akin to Hammett and Chandler. This novel, more in keeping with his bitterly funny SHAKEDOWN (about P.I. to the Stars Fred Otash in Hell), is not of a piece with his early L.A. novels. Here he is working in a vein similar to early Thomas Pynchon or Robert Coover --it is a wide-screen decadent (in the true sense of the word)panorama of the hatred and paranoia that hit the States at the start of WWII. People engage in race-baiting, murder, vengeance, and volumes of sex. The sex is between real-life and fictional characters (The Dudster and Bette Davis, JFK and Ellen Drew). This is not a novel for everyone's taste. However, if you can stomach racist bile and bone-crunching, mixed with some fairly astute political comments that reflect our day as well as the 40s, look no further. Volume Two promises to be more profane; I can't wait.
    more
  • Benoit Lelièvre
    January 1, 1970
    There are things about that book that I loved and there are other things about it that irked the crap out of me. That's the kind of novel PERFIDIA is, it's both the most ambitious and oddly pertinent novel that James Ellroy's ever written, but it's also its most self-indulgent. Too many characters, too many coming back (it's like a reunion novel, really) and the Hollywood angle turns into a boring, name-dropping session of perverts anonymous quite fast,BUTBecause there's a BUT. I loved PERFIDIA There are things about that book that I loved and there are other things about it that irked the crap out of me. That's the kind of novel PERFIDIA is, it's both the most ambitious and oddly pertinent novel that James Ellroy's ever written, but it's also its most self-indulgent. Too many characters, too many coming back (it's like a reunion novel, really) and the Hollywood angle turns into a boring, name-dropping session of perverts anonymous quite fast,BUTBecause there's a BUT. I loved PERFIDIA nonetheless for being the wildest conspiracy theory novel I've ever read. The parallels between World War II and the War on Terror seen through Ellroy's eyes are extremely clever and only through the master's warped vision of the past the reader can appreciate how WWII has shaped the American mind. I wouldn't recommend it to new Ellroy readers, but it's a mandatory reading for the old schoolers like me. I just hope the next volume of the 2nd L.A Quartet is going to focus on a smaller cast.
    more
  • Paul
    January 1, 1970
    Actual rating: 2.5 stars.I have a hard time getting into Ellroy novels. His writing reads like a string of staccato gossip rag headlines: brusque, abbreviated, slangy, Granted the slang is period-correct, it comes across as contrived and phony. No one talks like that; I'll go out on a limb and say that no cop, in any historical era, ever uttered the word "jejune."So it's always a rough start. Then, three or four chapters in, Ellroy's stories take off and I forget to be irritated with the stilted Actual rating: 2.5 stars.I have a hard time getting into Ellroy novels. His writing reads like a string of staccato gossip rag headlines: brusque, abbreviated, slangy, Granted the slang is period-correct, it comes across as contrived and phony. No one talks like that; I'll go out on a limb and say that no cop, in any historical era, ever uttered the word "jejune."So it's always a rough start. Then, three or four chapters in, Ellroy's stories take off and I forget to be irritated with the stilted dialog. In fact, the dialog starts to make sense, in a kind of alternate world Roger Rabbit way ... maybe there were, in the Los Angeles of the 1940s and 50s, cops and robbers who really did talk this way ... but who cares, because oh my god did that just happen? And what's going to happen next?But with this novel, my initial irritation returned in the second half. Every character sounded the same. Apart from Parker's alcoholism, every character's mental processes were the same. Yes, it was interesting to encounter characters from other Ellroy novels (Dudly Smith, Kay Lake, several other LA cops) in a new setting, but that only carries one so far. The plot, which centers around the internment of Japanese-American citizens after Pearl Harbor and the start of WWII, is certainly of historical interest, and this too is typical of an Ellroy novel. I felt at times as if Ellroy was inventing parts of his history, but I'll defer to his vision. It made for an interesting backdrop, whether the details were historically correct or not.The last third of the novel felt unnecessarily repetitive and dragged out. The Japanese-American detective ponders the evidence to date and draws certain conclusions. Then Bill Parker, the alcoholic, jumps through the exact same mental hoops and draws the same conclusions. Then it's Kay Lake's turn, then Dudley's. You read the same plot development four times in a row. If the character's mental dialog was unique to that character, this might be interesting. But they all think in the same brusque, abbreviated, slangy way.This is perhaps my least favorite Ellroy novel to date. I felt like he phoned large parts of it in.
    more
  • Kat
    January 1, 1970
    Perfidia is a wild, beast of a book. I'm a huge fan of James Ellroy, especially his LA books. Ellroy works best when he's let loose on the scene of downtown LA, with the scumbags and the scarlet women. This book deals with a fascinating and not often discussed period of American history - the impact of Pearl Harbour in cities and the US continent. Ellroy contrasts the inherent racism of the time with the main character, Hideo Ashida, a forensics investigator whose increasing motivation is self-p Perfidia is a wild, beast of a book. I'm a huge fan of James Ellroy, especially his LA books. Ellroy works best when he's let loose on the scene of downtown LA, with the scumbags and the scarlet women. This book deals with a fascinating and not often discussed period of American history - the impact of Pearl Harbour in cities and the US continent. Ellroy contrasts the inherent racism of the time with the main character, Hideo Ashida, a forensics investigator whose increasing motivation is self-protectionism in the face of the Japanese interment in LA. There are scenes in Perfidia which rank among the best of Ellroy's career. Kay Lake gets a full run, and she is one of Ellroy's best creations. The early scene where she discusses the fifth column with Bill Parker is a perfectly crafted vision of character. It's Kay Lake's wanderings through the military celebrations, which echo the opening of Oliver Stone's Born on the 4th of July, that are the other exceptional moments in this book. You get a real sense of the city and what it would have been like, drawn into the mob mentality of rallies and festivals. The difficulty with such a long novel is to maintain momentum and consistency, and I felt that the book slowed down in the middle. The investigation gets bogged down, but picks up again in the last third. With such a wide cast of characters it was difficult to keep track of everyone. It's good to experience the early stories of familiar faces from the LA Quartet. Ellroy is on an ambitious trajectory with this second quartet, and I look forward to what comes next from the master of noir.
    more
  • Jim B
    January 1, 1970
    I didn't know James Ellroy when I started Perfidia ; I thought I'd stumbled on an author that was not well known. I was eager to tell a couple of GoodReads friends who enjoy noir detective books about my discovery. Now all I can say is after you read Perfidia , you will see how flat all the other noir detective books are.This book happened to touch several of my personal interests / experiences, so I was interested on another level. It appears to me now that I've finished the book that James E I didn't know James Ellroy when I started Perfidia ; I thought I'd stumbled on an author that was not well known. I was eager to tell a couple of GoodReads friends who enjoy noir detective books about my discovery. Now all I can say is after you read Perfidia , you will see how flat all the other noir detective books are.This book happened to touch several of my personal interests / experiences, so I was interested on another level. It appears to me now that I've finished the book that James Ellroy is to novels what Impressionists are to art. The details are not important to this highly detailed book. For example, several key characters in this book are Catholic or Lutheran (not significant to the story line). The facts about Lutherans, of course, caught my attention. I know Lutheran Japanese, so the fact that a Lutheran Japanese connection appeared early in the story caught my attention. And yet, the details are wrong -- you aren't given a "St Christopher medal" at a Lutheran church, and 1514 is not the date of the Augsburg Confession. Now, these are easily verifiable details, so that tells me that Ellroy doesn't care about such facts getting in the way of a good story; like an Impressionist, those false details provide color -- what else is historically untrue in this historical novel? For example, one of the themes of the story is a huge plan to profit from Japanese interment and this plan was supposedly hatched (on a wide scale) before Pearl Harbor, knowing that war with Japan would be inevitable and lead to this. True? or a good story? I won't cite other such fascinating aspects of the story, but it made me want to go back and cover again the area of historical research I did in college, which played out in a place I lived later!Was all the gossip based on elements of truth, or just a fascinating invention for a good story? (I think the latter.)Still, I've read books where an evil man regularly attends mass, and the book left me wondering what went on in the man's head as he confronted God -- Ellroy tells you the prayer that was offered, and I knew at once that he must be a man of faith (later research showed his attachment to God and the church).Ellroy has created a monumental book, and at the heart is a detective mystery that could have been resolved by another author in half the books space or less -- but the mystery was solved with monumental effort by spectacularly dedicated and gifted men in less than a month ! That tells you how much of this book is background to the mystery.Sometimes I think it would be interesting to have kept a log of the interesting connections between the books in the sequence I read them. This book with all it's 1940's era prejudice against minorities was followed by Ta-Nehisi Coates book Betweeen the World and Me which begins with a talk about racism in terms that are graphically displayed on the pages of Perfidia . I might not have seen how deadly accurate his words about racism were, had I not been immersed in the minds of Ellroy's characters these past weeks.Craig Wasson is an excellent choice to be the audiobook reader of a book about 1940's LA. He used many voices to differentiate the huge cast of characters, and because his choices sounded familiar (John Houseman, Burt Lancaster, etc) it was easy to remember which characters were involved.I rarely reread a book, and usually only because I enjoyed it so much that I want the experience a second time. But some day I will have to reread Perfidia because as an audio book there was way too much detail and too many characters to absorb from an audio book.
    more
  • Andrew Nette
    January 1, 1970
    I need to preface my comments on Perfidia by stressing I am a massive Ellroy fan. I have read all of his books – ALL of them – many more than once. I even liked The Cold Six Thousand and Blood’s A Rover, the two books that most divided readers. So, it is with a heavy heart that I say Perfidia is very disappointing. The long awaited prelude to Ellroy’s LA Quintet, Perfidia takes place in Los Angeles over 23 days in December 1941, a period in which American went from being at piece to the attack o I need to preface my comments on Perfidia by stressing I am a massive Ellroy fan. I have read all of his books – ALL of them – many more than once. I even liked The Cold Six Thousand and Blood’s A Rover, the two books that most divided readers. So, it is with a heavy heart that I say Perfidia is very disappointing. The long awaited prelude to Ellroy’s LA Quintet, Perfidia takes place in Los Angeles over 23 days in December 1941, a period in which American went from being at piece to the attack on Pearl Harbour and the country being at war.The focal point of the book is the brutal murder on the eve of Pearl Harbour of a Japanese family. The killings have all the hallmarks of traditional Japanese ritual deaths. Drawn into the murder investigation are future LAPD chief William H Parker, the meanest crime fiction cop ever created, Dudley Smith, a brilliant young Japanese police forensic scientist, and Kay Lake, a woman with a major thing for bad men.Into the political, social and moral tempest of wartime Los Angeles, Ellroy throws every conceivable vice and abuse imaginable: torture, the unjust internment of Japanese Americans, police corruption and racism. There’s a subplot involving an unhinged plastic surgeon that wants to cut up wealthy Japanese Americans so they can masquerade as Chinese Americans and avoid imprisonment, and a marvellous detour in which Dudley carries on a passionate affair with Betty Davis. It’s an ambitious effort, written in slightly less staccato prose than marked the authors last couple of efforts.But no matter how high Ellroy raises the stakes, I found it very hard to sustain my interest in the characters, particularly Lake. I am not sure whether Ellroy has ever been particularly good at writing women, and I’m not sure that’s bothered me before. But this time, I found the two dimensional aspect of Lake’s persona and actions unconvincing and annoying. As for the rest of the book, it was good, but there’s nothing really new or innovative in it and my sense of declining returns became more apparent the further into the nearly seven hundred pages I waded. This is not the first book by a successful mainstream crime author I have read in the last couple of years that has left me thinking nothing would have been lost and a lot gained by cutting a hundred or two hundred pages from the story. It certainly would have improved Perfidia.
    more
  • Andrewh
    January 1, 1970
    This is the first of another LA quartet, which contains some of the characters that will figure in great works such as LA Confidential and The Big Nowhere (murderous cop Dudley Smith in particular). The action all takes place just before and just after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and features fifth columnists, local Nazis, psycho cops and, to top it off, Bette Davis being Herself (and doing so with the Dudster, fgs). As usual with Ellroy, the plot is almost totally incomprehensible but c This is the first of another LA quartet, which contains some of the characters that will figure in great works such as LA Confidential and The Big Nowhere (murderous cop Dudley Smith in particular). The action all takes place just before and just after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and features fifth columnists, local Nazis, psycho cops and, to top it off, Bette Davis being Herself (and doing so with the Dudster, fgs). As usual with Ellroy, the plot is almost totally incomprehensible but centres on a seemingly ritualistic murder of a Japanese family in LA on the eve of the attack on the US navy, and then spins out of orbit into an assortment of fairly mad plans by local (crypto-Nazi) cops and crims to exploit the fine opportunities offered by imminent war with the Axis (which quite a few people seemed to have seen coming, it seems). For some reason, Ellroy allows one of the key protagonists to explain his whole dastardly plan, in Scooby Doo fashion, to another cop but this seems a redundant tactic after 700pp of complex machinations, all delivered in his trademark bullet-like sentences. Ellroy loves to use the same slangy tropes over and again to create an immersive effect and yet, at the same time, often has his characters talk with a very heightened articulacy (the Dudster, and the Japanese cop almost always talk in epigrams, like they are in a 1940s noir film). The author also helpfully provides an appendix of characters at the end, showing who appears in which of the future (already written) books in the various quartets. It could be that Ellroy is aspiring to respectability here but we can only hope not.
    more
  • Amanda Clay
    January 1, 1970
    Awful. Simply awful. Almost unreadably awful~ indeed I started skimming about 1/3 of the way through because finding out 'whodunnit' was the only interesting thing in the entire book. Even so, the motives for the murder made no sense, and the identity of the murderer meant nothing as he was one of a handful of completely undeveloped characters who'd failed to catch or hold my interest. The worst part of this book? (spoiler alert!) I am a huge fan of the L.A. Quartet books~ I've read the Black Da Awful. Simply awful. Almost unreadably awful~ indeed I started skimming about 1/3 of the way through because finding out 'whodunnit' was the only interesting thing in the entire book. Even so, the motives for the murder made no sense, and the identity of the murderer meant nothing as he was one of a handful of completely undeveloped characters who'd failed to catch or hold my interest. The worst part of this book? (spoiler alert!) I am a huge fan of the L.A. Quartet books~ I've read the Black Dahlia at least ten times. This book (indeed this projected series) purports to add and expand on those stories and characters, giving us a deeper glimpse into the world. What this book actually does is meddle with previously well-rounded characters and well-crafted stories to the point where it actively harms the previous books. Suddenly Elizabeth Short (the Dahlia herself) is Dudley Smith's daughter? He's a character in that novel, wouldn't that have come up? At least peripherally? So much alteration of personality and timeline and interpersonal connection occurs that it makes the previous books almost irrelevant. And then, to top it all off, it's boring! Most of the population of this book should have just been called 'Drunk Cop #1, Drunk Cop #2, Drunk Cop #3'. The trademark Ellroy style of writing, which makes the earlier books punchy and hardboiled, is trowelled on so self-consciously in this book that it just comes out hokey and dumb. All in all, a terrible reading experience that might have soured me on the man forever. Sad.
    more
  • Anthony Ryan
    January 1, 1970
    The first volume in Ellroy's 2nd LA Quartet takes us back to where it all began in December 1941. The investigation of a horrific multiple murder sees Hideo Ashida, forensic genius and the only Japanese American employed by the Los Angeles Police Dept., drawn into the orbit of the brutal but brilliant Sergeant Dudley Smith, himself engaged in a bitter clandestine feud with Commie obsessed alcoholic Captain Bill Parker. This book is a lot of fun for Ellroy aficionados as you get to play 'spot the The first volume in Ellroy's 2nd LA Quartet takes us back to where it all began in December 1941. The investigation of a horrific multiple murder sees Hideo Ashida, forensic genius and the only Japanese American employed by the Los Angeles Police Dept., drawn into the orbit of the brutal but brilliant Sergeant Dudley Smith, himself engaged in a bitter clandestine feud with Commie obsessed alcoholic Captain Bill Parker. This book is a lot of fun for Ellroy aficionados as you get to play 'spot the character who turns up in The Black Dahlia or The Big Nowhere.' However, nerd-fodder aside, it's also a treatise on the bigotry and pro-Nazi sentiment prevalent in US society before Pearl Harbour changed everything. Ellroy also doesn't flinch in depicting the injustice heaped upon the Japanese American community during World War II, a shameful episode fuelled as much by greed as by prejudice. All the Ellroy trademarks are present, from the paired down prose to themes of obsession and moral ambivalence; good people do bad things and bad people do good things depending on the circumstance. Another fine book from a master of the craft. The wait for book 2 will be a long one.
    more
  • Robert Intriago
    January 1, 1970
    James Ellroy style of writing has changed over time. He started with an easy flowing narrative and as time has gone by his writing has evolved into a what I call a "staccato"style. That is short disconnected paragraphs, scattered all over the place and fired in rapid bursts. This method is okay when writing short books but it can get on your nerves when the story goes for more than 600 pages. The story itself is a police procedural involving the murder of a Japanese family right about the time o James Ellroy style of writing has changed over time. He started with an easy flowing narrative and as time has gone by his writing has evolved into a what I call a "staccato"style. That is short disconnected paragraphs, scattered all over the place and fired in rapid bursts. This method is okay when writing short books but it can get on your nerves when the story goes for more than 600 pages. The story itself is a police procedural involving the murder of a Japanese family right about the time of Pearl Harbor. Most of the characters will appear later in the "Black Dahlia" and as such this appears to be a prequel to the "LA Quartet" stories. In addition to the murder the usual 1940's and 1950's LA police corruption, rumors about Hollywood actors and well known politicians, prostitution, drugs and racial slurs populate the story as they do in all his previous stories.
    more
  • James
    January 1, 1970
    Los Angeles has a new best novel! James Ellroy's Perfidia is absolutely fantastic. The scandals, the murders, the extortion...they combine to make a story that is unforgettable. Having had the privilege of meeting James Ellroy at the Los Angeles Central Library made the story all the more memorable. To hear James Ellroy talk about his new novel, check out the podcast from ALOUD at http://www.lapl.org/collections-resou.... When you're done listening, read Perfidia!
    more
  • Carol
    January 1, 1970
    This book was highly rated and I was looking forward to reading it. However, I abandoned it after a few chapters because I just couldn't stand the writing style. I hoped maybe it was just the voice of the initial characters with their staccato 4-5 word sentences, one after another, but when the voices of the new characters followed the same pattern I had to accept that I just don't like this author's style of writing.
    more
  • Daniel Sevitt
    January 1, 1970
    You can never replicate the breathtaking gutpunch of American Tabloid or The Black Dahlia which I read almost 20 years ago, but this is a fine start to Ellroy's latest (last?) quartet. Dudley Smith is front and centre banging Bette Davis, cracking heads and popping bennies. All backed up by the greatest wink in literature. So much fun, it'll be hard to go back to reading other books.
    more
Write a review