The D. A.'s brass, a sheriff's deputy, and a rough-and-tumble bagman are unknowingly chasing a nightmare in this thrilling novel from the author of "some of the most powerful crime novels ever written" (New York Times).
Los Angeles, 1950 Red crosscurrents: the Commie Scare and a string of brutal mutilation killings. Gangland intrigue and Hollywood sleaze. Three cops caught in a hellish web of ambition, perversion, and deceit. Danny Upshaw is a Sheriff's deputy stuck with a bunch of snuffs nobody cares about; they're his chance to make his name as a cop...and to sate his darkest curiosities. Mal Considine is D.A.'s Bureau brass. He's climbing on the Red Scare bandwagon to advance his career and to gain custody of his adopted son, a child he saved from the horror of postwar Europe. Buzz Meeks-bagman, ex-Narco goon, and pimp for Howard Hughes-is fighting communism for the money. All three men have purchased tickets to a nightmare.
Returning to Los Angeles a few years after World War II (the setting of his last novel, The Black Dahlia ), Ellroy has come up with an ambitious, enthralling melodrama painted on a broad, dark canvas. The novel's first half interweaves two stories of lonely, driven lawmen investigating the crimes of social outcasts. In the county sheriff's office, Deputy Danny Upshaw finds that his probe of a series of homosexual murders is unleashing some frightening personal demons. Meanwhile, DA's investigator Mal Considine is assigned to infiltrate a cadre of Hollywood leftists, knowing that in the red-scare atmosphere, any hint of Communist conspiracy he uncovers will advance his career. Impressed by Upshaw's intensity, Considine decides to use him as a decoy to seduce a powerful woman nicknamed the ``Red Queen,'' and the two cases and their implications of corruption, deceit and past violence converge explosively. At once taut and densely detailed, this is a mystery with the grim, inexorable pull of a film noir, shot through with a strictly modern dose of extreme (though not gratuitous) brutality and a very sure sense of history and characterization.
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This was his first book I read and created my love for Ellroy's writing. I'd never read anything like it. The mix of 3 different character's storylines. The violence, politics, grittiness, and grime combine for an amazing crime novel. The 2nd and my favorite of his LA Quartet of novels.
I read this a long time ago but enjoyed the book and along with The Black Dahlia created my interest in James Ellroy as an author....EAF