For those who can't get enough crime reporting from their local newspaper, God created James Ellroy. Whether it be fiction or prose, no one writes better about violence and deviant behavior. In his new book, Crime Wave, the author writes about his usual suspects . . . I mean subjects (i.e. sex, violence, and Los Angeles) as well as revisiting his own past. Part reporting, part noir fiction, and part personal history, Crime Wave shows the many sides to the writing of this fascinating man.
Luckily not many authors can claim James Ellroy's background. In 1957, a police detective informed the then 10-year-old that his mother had been killed. To this day the murder stands unsolved. Thus Crime Wave begins with three essays on unsolved murders, each involving women (one being Ellroy's mother) and all occurring in L.A.
In these pieces Ellroy plays historical detective. He immerses himself in homicide files to reconstruct the lives of the victims. In his writing, Ellroy faces the cruel facts of violent crime and displays his untiring knowledge of L.A. police work procedure. At times he sounds like the most hardened detective on the beat, which is not too much of a stretch for this gifted literary chameleon. In addition to nonfiction, Crime Wave includes three new stories that display the kind of hard-boiled fiction for which Ellroy is best known. Fans of L.A. Confidential will be happy to catch up with Danny Getchell, owner and operator of Hush Hush, Hollywood's most salacious and vicious insider gossip rag. Elsewhere Ellroy digs up some serious West Coast foul play through one of his favorite tinsel town scenesters, the tough, accordion-squeezing loverboy, Dick Contino. These tales deliver the goods on the city of angels. So if crime's your bag, lose your local paper and check out James Ellroy.
Charles Wyrick plays guitar in the band Stella.