Review: American Tabloid by James Ellroy

American Tabloid by James Ellroy

I found out a couple of weeks back that Blood’s a Rover, the final installment in James Ellroy’s Underworld USA trilogy, is coming out next month.

This meant it was time to re-read American Tabloid and The Cold Six Thousand. When I held both volumes in my hands and felt their heft, I was almost intimidated. Did I have the time and the willpower to get through 1200 tightly-spaced pages so that I could then read another 600-page book? I knew I had to if I was going to enjoy Blood’s a Rover, because the story is too complex for me to just pick up eight years after reading the last installment.

I needn’t have worried. I thought American Tabloid was one of the best books I’d ever read when I first encountered it over a decade ago. A second reading has only reinforced that impression. I plowed through the whole thing in three evenings (evenings that tended to run very late).

If anything, I appreciated Ellroy’s achievement even more upon reading it again with both a greater knowledge of the time period in which it takes place and the ability to easily look up the many historical figures that populate or are referenced in its pages.

American Tabloid is noir as epic, where the darkness beneath the surface doesn’t just affect individual lives, as in a standard noir, but the fate of entire nations. Its audacity is stunning, its plotting is meticulous, its writing is riveting, and its execution is nearly flawless.

I’m not going to write even a hint of a synopsis in this brief review–I think the back cover and the quotations from critics contain too many spoilers as it is. Every twist and turn and alliance and betrayal in this book is delicious, and I don’t want to be responsible for diluting one single word. All I have to say is, if you haven’t read it, go to your local bookstore now.

I’m going to take a brief break from Ellroy to check out a Ken Bruen book and maybe another skinny one before taking on The Cold Six Thousand, which is a much more difficult read. I’ll be at the bookstore like a Harry Potter fan on the day of release for Blood’s a Rover. September 22nd can’t arrive fast enough.

Related Posts:

Review: The Cold Six Thousand by James Ellroy

Review: Blood’s a Rover by James Ellroy

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