CHOSEN BY TIME MAGAZINE AS ONE OF
THE TEN BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR
"ONE HELLISHLY EXCITING RIDE."
--Detroit Free Press
The '50s are finished. Zealous young senator Robert Kennedy has a red-hot jones to nail Jimmy Hoffa. JFK has his eyes on the Oval Office. J. Edgar Hoover is swooping down on the Red Menace. Howard Hughes is dodging subpoenas and digging up Kennedy dirt. And Castro is mopping up the bloody aftermath of his new communist nation.
"HARD-BITTEN. . . INGENIOUS. . . ELLROY SEGUES INTO POLITICAL INTRIGUE WITHOUT MISSING A BEAT."
--The New York Times
In the thick of it: FBI men Kemper Boyd and Ward Littell. They work every side of the street, jerking the chains of made men, street scum, and celebrities alike, while Pete Bondurant, ex-rogue cop, freelance enforcer, troubleshooter, and troublemaker, has the conscience to louse it all up.
--Los Angeles Times
Mob bosses, politicos, snitches, psychos, fall guys, and femmes fatale. They're mixing up a molotov cocktail guaranteed to end the country's innocence with a bang. Dig that crazy beat: it's America's heart racing out of control. . . .
"A SUPREMELY CONTROLLED WORK OF ART."
--The New York Times Book Review
Although it follows his L.A. Trilogy chronologically, Ellroy's visceral, tightly plotted new novel unfolds on a much wider stage, delivering a compelling and detailed view of the American underworld from the late 1950s to the assassination of JFK. Demythologizing the Camelot years, Ellroy (White Jazz) depicts a nexus of renegade government agencies, mobsters, industrial tycoons and Hollywood players fueling the rise and fall of the Kennedy administration. The story hinges on the entanglements of three 40-something government mercenaries who play major, behind-the-scenes roles in such events as the Bay of Pigs and the assassination of the president. Suave and sybaritic Kemper Boyd pimps for JFK while carrying out simultaneous undercover work for the CIA, FBI, Robert Kennedy and the Mob. Hulking, sadistic ex-L.A. cop Pete Bondurant, a hired killer for Jimmy Hoffa, digs dirt for a drug-addled Howard Hughes while training a cadre of bloodthirsty, anti-Castro Cuban exiles off the Florida Coast. Idealistic FBI wiretapper Ward Littel, following a series of disastrous anti-Mafia operations, becomes a Machiavellian mob lawyer. All three rub shoulders with an enormous cast of real-life characters, including clever, two-dimensional portraits of the Kennedy family, J. Edgar Hoover and Jack Ruby. Exercising his muscular, shorthand prose, Ellroy moves the narrative from break-in to lurid assignation to brutal hit job in a tightening gyre that culminates in the murder of the president. While not especially convincing as revisionist history, this is a cool and riveting evocation of a cultural epoch abounding in government surveillance, endemic corruption and yellow journalism. BOMC and QPB selections; author tour.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Big Jimmy McE can slap a phrase about like a narced out hustler laying face down in a pool of their own vomit. When diving into the scared cow world of the Royal Family Kennedy, knickers will get twisted and no body gets out with a kick to the ribs. Unflinching fun follows every page. Best out line on any book ever written about the JFK v. Dallas (take the shooter and three shots) thing. Kind of like Harry Potter for warped adults who sneer at everything.
I love this book! The politics, the violence, and the players in this tale of madness had me hooked. Kemper, Pete, and Ward each have a stake in this wonderfully written novel. The mix of fact and fiction grips and makes you wonder, "what if?".
100 Words or Less
Ellroy basically takes the worst opinions of the JFK era, along with its abundance of intrigue and thugs, and lays it out plainly for everyone to gawk. Every vicious rumor comes to life – funny and expertly done, but after a while I began to roll my eyes. Does every well-known political figure have to be such a stereotype? That said, I did enjoy this, in the sort of roll around in the mud sort of way. Certainly not one of Ellroy’s best, but still well written.