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Book Details

Title:   Perfidia
Author:   James Ellroy
Times Read:   1
Last Read:   03.27.15

Other Books Read By This Author (2)
- Blood's A Rover
- The Hilliker Curse: My Pursuit of Women

Notes History
Date Read Note
03.27.15 Finally got through this one. I really loved Blood's A Rover but this one landed kind of cold for me. It's one of those deals where the premise sounds great on paper but the reality is kind of a let-down. Dudley Smith, Kay Lake, and Bill Parker as POV characters? A second quartet combining Ellroy's first L.A. Quartet with his Underworld USA trilogy? A huge thick 700 page tome full of cameos, referential characters, and younger glimpses of soon-to-be pivotal figures? SIGN ME UP. Unfortunately, I feel like this book suffers from two things: Being the first of a series, and being a prequel. One of the huge traps that prequels fall in to for me is that since you know where they end up then there's no real surprises. The feeling of fitting the last puzzle piece into place can be satisfying but not thrilling. So I kind of thought that nothing much happens in all 700 of these pages. There's a bit of a murder investigation and social tapestry surrounding LA right after the Pearl Harbor bombings but... nobody really changes, nothing really happens, nothing really resolves in any meaningful way. I suspect that as the quartet goes on we may see these events become more important but it's kind of weird... This book and The Cold Six Thousand are the only two Ellroy books (aside from his early stuff) that don't stand up on their own. In the first LA Quartet each book could be cut loose from the recurring characters and still be fantastic. I feel like most of the interest for me in this one was due to the characters being who they are. But that also sets up some judgements like... does it make sense that Kay Lake would do all this stuff and be who she is when The Black Dahlia rolls around? And then there's other stuff like Dudley's relationship to Elizabeth Short that's just plain bizarre. And finally... From what I understand Ellroy writes very detailed outlines for his books then writes his prose basically riffing on each plot point line by line. Sometimes this works well but here I feel like he riffed too much. It was often hard for me to understand what the hell was going on and I feel like that's kind of because there's not much happening. Books like white jazz or LA Confidential feel like so much is going on the author can't waste time with unimportant words. Here it feels like the opposite is happening... What the hell does Blood Libel mean? It's written A LOT in this book. All in all... I'm still a huge Ellroy fan... but this is kind of a miss for me.



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