‘The Big Nowhere’ by James Ellroy

The Big Nowhere by James Ellroy


Los Angeles, 1950. Communist witch hunts and a spate of violent killings throw three men into a complex and dangerous web of lies, deceit and murder.

This is Ellroy’s second novel in the LA Quartet series. Though there are a few nods to the first book, The Black Dahlia, this one is a separate story. As with ‘Dahlia’, the author’s unique style of writing mixes slang, a weird kind of swearing and police jargon, making the book at times a tricky read. Though I started out with the paperback version, I switched to the audiobook halfway through simply because the dialogue wore me out! Having said this and allowing for the fact that this is a fairly complicated plot, the main characters—Mal Considine, Deputy Upshaw and Buzz Meeks—keep the action rolling along, while Ellroy’s descriptions of the city and surrounding areas are a sheer delight. Jeff Harding’s narration, too, is right on the money, bringing the characters to life in an entertaining and realistic way. Referencing Howard Hughes, Communism and jazz music, the author paints a vivid and gruesome picture of 1950s America.

It’s worth noting that the violence is considerably stepped up from that of the first book, making it a gory read. Also, for anyone with a heightened sense of political correctness, it’s likely to prove offensive.

An exciting, scary and captivating book that will appeal to anyone who loves gritty, noir crime stories.

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