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Hollywood Nocturnes


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About the Author

James Ellroy was born in Los Angeles in 1948. His L.A. Quartet novels--The Black Dahlia, The Big Nowhere, L.A. Confidential, and White Jazz--were international bestsellers. American Tabloid was Time's Novel of the Year for 1995; his memoir My Dark Places was a Time Best Book of the Year and a New York Times Notable Book for 1996; his most recent novel, The Cold Six Thousand, was a New York Times Notable Book and a Los Angeles Times Best Book of the Year for 2001. He lives on the California coast.


Ellroy's clipped and compelling noir realism, so effectively plied in such novels as L.A . Confidential and The Black Dahlia , shows itself to comparable advantage in short form here. The pick of the collection is ``Dick Contino's Blues,'' the longest of the six previously published stories. Adrift in the hazy Hollywood '50s, accordion king Contino wades through nightclub gigs, broads, scandal and auto shows while saving a girl from ``pinko'' influences and from a publicity-grabbing fake kidnapping that unfortunately coincides with a serial killer's rampage-in-progress. Ellroy's rat-a-tat style expands slightly in ``High Darktown,'' where an L.A. cop and former boxer follows an old enemy to a brutally violent resolution--while most of L.A. celebrates the end of WW II. In a foreword that exhibits the same high-heat style, Ellroy refers to the uneasy realities that underscore his prose, including his mother's unsolved 1958 murder in the City of Angels. Ellroy's narratives and approach aren't likely to please fans of clever-cat or subtle-English-spinster cozies, but he's required reading for those who take their crime fiction gritty, dark and a few degrees below boiling. (June)

The night is a central character of this aptly titled collection. Set mainly in the 1940s and 1950s, the stories are populated by cops, criminals, floozies, hustlers, and zootsuited wiseguys who bring to mind black-and-white B movies and yellowed Police Gazettes. The hero of the longest piece is Dick Contino, the accordion-playing, benny-popping star of the drive-in classic Daddy-O. On the way to starring in this epic, Contino encounters the police officer father of a luscious teenaged tease, a down-and-out producer who nurses his weak heart with Cheese Whiz and crackers, and a psycho who is terrorizing the denizens of Tinseltown's lovers' lanes. The other stories in the collection cover much the same territory and seem to be ideas that didn't quite make it to the novel stage. A good introduction to one of crime fiction's grittier masters.-Dan Bogey, Clearfield Cty. P.L. Federation, Curwensville, Pa.

"You want tough-guy fiction? If you haven't checked out the great James Ellroy, chances are you like water in your whiskey, too. . . . A must for Ellroy fans."
--San Francisco Chronicle

"One of the great American writers of our time." --Los Angeles Times "A blood poet who writes as chain saws crank, Ellroy has vigorously redefined the well-shadowed turf of contemporary crime fiction." --The Atlanta Journal-Constitution "Our best living mystery writer. . . . Literate, suspenseful, honest. . . . His pages crackle with maniac energy. . . . Ellroy captures the vocabulary, the rituals, the smells and rhythms and colors of real people living on the edge. . . . Nobody since Chandler has evoked so perfectly the seamy side of L.A."
--Austin Chronicle

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