Saturday, September 2, 2017

BLOOD'S A ROVER by James Ellroy

*Book 3 of the Underworld U.S.A Trilogy*

Ellroy seems like he's running out of steam here. Story-wise and stylistically, this novel fits right in as the final book in the Underworld USA trilogy, where he documents his own version of the history of this country's turbulent '60's, with this book pulling us from the MLK and Bobbie Kennedy assassinations and into the early 70's with the Nixon years and the Black Power movement. But it's a far cry from the quality of his masterpiece American Tabloid, and surprisingly, I even liked it a little less than the disappointing A Cold Six Thousand. While those two previous books had solid structures that moved on a path to their respective inevitable events in history, the historical material here doesn't provide such a trajectory, and much of it started to feel really repetitive. Even though it's an easier read than Cold Six, the main characters here were barely engaging. The book's best character by far, the fascinating FBI/Black Power Movement double agent Marshall Bowen, is relegated to mostly journal entries, where the book would've been so much better if he was a POV character!

I still love Ellroy's work in general but in this one, he  either run out of interesting material to fill an epic novel, or the good stuff that he did have was misused.



  1. I don't think it's a lack of material. More an approach. The more recent Ellroy works have lots of superficial-feeling lists of actions (Wayne did x. Wayne drove to y. Wayne …). Then there's the obsessive writing style. And maybe things revolve too much around the super-dense, slow plots.

    Anyway, the result (for me anyway) is that the characters don't feel fully alive/dynamic.

  2. Yes, The Cold Six Thousand was a tough read. I almost bailed out on it a few times. I've had this one since it was first published in hardback but have yet to get around to reading it. Someday...


Please be respectful