The Big Nowhere

James Ellroy, Author
James Ellroy, Author Mysterious Press $30 (420p) ISBN 978-0-89296-283-9
Reviewed on: 09/01/1988
Release date: 09/01/1988
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. (September)
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