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James Ellroy promises that Perfidia is the start of another LA Quartet. It begins on Dec 6, 1941 and covers the events of the next three weeks. The logical assumption is that the next three books will cover the years up to The Black Dahlia.
Perfidia is jammed with characters from past books. It gives nothing away to say that the one of the central characters is Sgt. Dudley Smith with all his roguish and broguish charm. To an extent, having so many of his own fictional creations, as well as actual historical figures, as his actors removes a great deal of suspense. You know nothing bad happens to them as they’re in later books or really were people in LA in the 50s or 60s. But that’s not a bad thing. What you read Ellroy for is the breathtaking scope of mendacity he weaves through his novels. There’s more crime, betrayal, violence, schemes and scams, love and lust in an Ellroy novel than most writers can pack into a lifetime of books. Bennies, poisoned tea, opium pipes and barrels of alcohol, eugenics and racism, shotguns and machine guns and nitroglycerin – and satchels of cash.
“Land grabs, plastic surgery, blood libel. Rogue cops, sub attacks, a lunch-mob massacre. Pay phones. A white man in a purple sweater. Secret radios and feigned seppuku. The haughty Left and the bellicose Right. A grand alliance of war profiteers.” And nothing has changed.
Get ready for a cast of characters you think you know: Bucky, Lee and Kay, Pierce Padgett and Preston Exley, Buzz Meeks and Sid Hudgens, Bugsey Siegel and Beth Short mix it up with Bette Davis, William Parker, J Edgar Hoover and JFK. My advance reader’s copy came to 688 pages, with an additional four and a half pages of the cast, telling you what novels they appeared in or who was what in wartime LA.
It’s a masterful work, fast and hard as a sap and as dark as the Sunset Strip during a wartime blackout. I just hope it isn’t another five years before we get the next volume.
The only problem is now I think I need to re-read the original quartet.
I can see Dudley wink and say “That’s grand, lad.”
This will be a stock signing, not a formal event. He’ll be here only long enough to sign what we need signed. Reserving a copy well in advance is mandatory. We can try to get earlier copies signed but can not promise that there will be time. Do not plan to be here. If you do want earlier books signed, you must buy the new one from us and get in touch with us to make arrangements. Call or e-mail first before bringing any older books to be signed.— JB
AN NPR BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR
It is December 6, 1941. America stands at the brink of World War II. Last hopes for peace are shattered when Japanese squadrons bomb Pearl Harbor. Los Angeles has been a haven for loyal Japanese-Americans but now, war fever and race hate grip the city and the Japanese internment begins.
The hellish murder of a Japanese family summons three men and one woman. William H. Parker is a captain on the Los Angeles Police Department. He's superbly gifted, corrosively ambitious, liquored-up, and consumed by dubious ideology. He is bitterly at odds with Sergeant Dudley Smith Irish emigre, ex-IRA killer, fledgling war profiteer. Hideo Ashida is a police chemist and the only Japanese on the L.A. cop payroll. Kay Lake is a twenty-one-year-old dilettante looking for adventure. The investigation throws them together and rips them apart. The crime becomes a political storm center that brilliantly illuminates these four driven souls comrades, rivals, lovers, history's pawns.
Perfidia is a novel of astonishments. It is World War II as you have never seen it, and Los Angeles as James Ellroy has never written it before. Here, he gives us the party at the edge of the abyss and the precipice of America's ascendance. Perfidia is that moment, spellbindingly captured. It beckons us to solve a great crime that, in its turn, explicates the crime of war itself. It is a great American novel.
About the Author
James Ellroy was born in Los Angeles in 1948. He is the author of the L.A. Quartet: The Black Dahlia, The Big Nowhere, L.A. Confidential, and White Jazz, and the Underworld U.S.A. Trilogy: American Tabloid, The Cold Six Thousand, and Blood s A Rover. These seven novels have won numerous honors and were international best sellers. Perfidia is the first novel of the Second L.A. Quartet, Ellroy s fictional history of Los Angeles during World War II. The design of this extended work is unprecedented. Ellroy will take characters from the original quartet and trilogy, set between 1946 and 1972, and detail their lives as significantly younger people. Ellroy currently lives in Los Angeles. www.jamesellroy.net"