cover image The Devil Raises His Own

The Devil Raises His Own

Scott Phillips. Soho Crime, $27.95 (384p) ISBN 978-1-64129-493-5

For this raucous sequel set 38 years after the events of Hop Alley, Phillips sets his sights on the early days of the pornographic film industry. In 1916 Hollywood, septuagenarian photographer Bill Ogden runs a successful portrait studio with his granddaughter, Flavia, who’s come to California from Wichita, Kans., after killing her abusive husband. Recently, Bill has photographed some people who work for Clyde Grady, a director of “blue movies” that have begun to enter the marketplace being carved out by L.A.’s nascent film industry. Several colorful characters orbit the main cast, including Clyde’s producers, George and Irene Buntnagel, who are joined in a lavender marriage; Trudy Crombie, a single mother who’s turned to porn to support her family; and Tommy Gill, a drunken, fading comedian who casts Trudy’s two young children in a series of attempted comeback films. In rich, vividly realized vignettes, Phillips follows each cast member as a series of brutal murders sets the City of Angels on edge, leading Bill and Flavia to question their involvement in the sex industry. Phillips brilliantly marries cheeky comedy and noirish grit, taking the series in a wholly unexpected direction. James Ellroy fans will be thrilled. Agent: Noah Ballard, Verve Talent & Literary. (Aug.)