May 23

The Big Nowhere by James Ellroy

The Big Nowhere by James Ellroy

“Call me Dudley. We’re of equal rank. I’m older, but you’re far better looking. I can tell we’re going to be grand partners.”

The Big Nowhere is the second book of James Ellroy’s Hollywood Quartet which is a ridiculously dark, entertaining, and hypnotic crime fiction series set in Los Angeles of the 1940s and 50s.  The Big Nowhere follows the first book in the series called the Black Dahlia  and while the main characters are not the same from book to book, some characters do overlap in the series.

James Ellroy’s second book in the Hollywood Quartet follows the path of three men: a young deputy Danny Upshaw, an ambitious lieutenant Malcolm Considine, and a former cop working on the other side of the law Tuner Meeks.  All three men are ambitious and have their own vices and are stuck between a rock and a hard place when at times the want to do the right thing hits the wall of their ambition.  The three men’s lives come together during the Red Scare of 1950 when former detective Turner Meeks’ boss Howard Hughes plan to get the communist leaning unions out of the movie business is tied back to a series of homosexual murders that only Deputy Danny Upshaw seems to care about. Upshaw and Meeks cross paths with Malcolm Considine who is trying to raise his career profile by jumping on the anticommunist bandwagon and who is also investigating the link between the communists and Hollywood unions.

The Big Nowhere, like all of James Ellroy’s books in this series, is not going to be for everyone.  Ellroy pulls no punches when describing the grisly murder scenes nor does he use any political correctness when reflecting the times and how people spoke and acted towards each other as well as other races.  If you are somebody that is a strong believer in political correctness in all things then this book is not going to be for you.  However if you are a fan of crime noir, gritty details and characters, and enough plot twists that would make a pretzel factory proud then the Big Nowhere as well as the rest of the Hollywood Quarter will be right up your alley.  Since I am not easily offended Ellroy’s work leaves me a little bit queasy as I frantically turn the pages to find out what happens next, I give The Big Nowhere 4 out of 5 shells.
4 shells


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