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One of the quintessential {{Mad Artist}}s of the 20th century, James Ellroy was born in 1948, and had a troubled childhood due to his parents' highly dysfunctional relationship that ended in their divorce. The key event in his life happened when he was just ten years old, when his mother was raped and murdered. The crime was never solved and Ellroy went to live with his father, who died seven years later. From there he dropped out of school and became a homeless, drug-addicted thief. After spending some time in jail he began to turn his life around by quitting drugs and getting a job as a caddy. However, his true passion became writing. His mother's murder had left him with a fascination of violent crime, much of it centered around the similar murder of aspiring actress Elizabeth Short, popularly known as the "Black Dahlia" case. One of his novels is a fictionalized account of the case to give Short a bit more closure than she received in real life, one of the biggest cases of {{Creator Breakdown}} in a career full of it.

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One of the quintessential {{Mad Artist}}s of the 20th century, James Lee Earle "James" Ellroy was born in 1948, and (born March 4, 1948) had a troubled childhood due to his parents' highly dysfunctional relationship that ended in their divorce. The key event in his life happened when he was just ten years old, when his mother was raped and murdered. The crime was never solved and Ellroy went to live with his father, who died seven years later. From there he dropped out of school and became a homeless, drug-addicted thief. After spending some time in jail he began to turn his life around by quitting drugs and getting a job as a caddy. However, his true passion became writing. His mother's murder had left him with a fascination of violent crime, much of it centered around the similar murder of aspiring actress Elizabeth Short, popularly known as the "Black Dahlia" case. One of his novels is a fictionalized account of the case to give Short a bit more closure than she received in real life, one of the biggest cases of {{Creator Breakdown}} in a career full of it.


* ''TheBigNowhere''

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* ''TheBigNowhere''''The Big Nowhere''


His books include lots of {{Black and Grey Morality}} and {{Deliberate Values Dissonance}}, as well as {{Loads And Loads Of Characters}}. Particularly well-known is his "L.A. Quartet" - ''Film/TheBlackDahlia'', ''The Big Nowhere'', ''Literature/LAConfidential'', and ''Literature/WhiteJazz''.

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His books include lots of {{Black and Grey Morality}} and {{Deliberate Values Dissonance}}, as well as {{Loads And Loads Of Characters}}. Particularly well-known is his "L.A. Quartet" - ''Film/TheBlackDahlia'', ''The Big Nowhere'', ''Literature/TheBigNowhere'', ''Literature/LAConfidential'', and ''Literature/WhiteJazz''.



* ''Literature/TheBigNowhere''



** In ''TheBigNowhere'' [[spoiler:Upshaw]] is hounded into killing himself with the threat of revealing his homosexuality.

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** In ''TheBigNowhere'' ''Literature/TheBigNowhere'' [[spoiler:Upshaw]] is hounded into killing himself with the threat of revealing his homosexuality.



* NiceGuy: Mal Considine in ''TheBigNowhere'' has his hang-ups and peculiarities but on the whole is probobably the most fundamentally decent of Ellroy's protagonists. [[spoiler: Not that it saves him from a bullet to the face but that's [[KillTheCutie James]] [[DownerEnding Ellroy]] for you.]]

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* NiceGuy: Mal Considine in ''TheBigNowhere'' ''Literature/TheBigNowhere'' has his hang-ups and peculiarities but on the whole is probobably the most fundamentally decent of Ellroy's protagonists. [[spoiler: Not that it saves him from a bullet to the face but that's [[KillTheCutie James]] [[DownerEnding Ellroy]] for you.]]


* ''The Big Nowhere''

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* ''The Big Nowhere''''TheBigNowhere''



** In ''The Big Nowhere'' [[spoiler:Upshaw]] is hounded into killing himself with the threat of revealing his homosexuality.

to:

** In ''The Big Nowhere'' ''TheBigNowhere'' [[spoiler:Upshaw]] is hounded into killing himself with the threat of revealing his homosexuality.



* NiceGuy: Mal Considine in ''The Big Nowhere'' has his hang-ups and peculiarities but on the whole is probobably the most fundamentally decent of Ellroy's protagonists. [[spoiler: Not that it saves him from a bullet to the face but that's [[KillTheCutie James]] [[DownerEnding Ellroy]] for you.]]

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* NiceGuy: Mal Considine in ''The Big Nowhere'' ''TheBigNowhere'' has his hang-ups and peculiarities but on the whole is probobably the most fundamentally decent of Ellroy's protagonists. [[spoiler: Not that it saves him from a bullet to the face but that's [[KillTheCutie James]] [[DownerEnding Ellroy]] for you.]]


** Ditto for ''L.A. Quartet'' really, but there at least every book featured a stone-cold psycho killer and [[MagnificentBastard Dudley]] [[BiggerBad Smith]] so the "heroes" looked halfway-decent by comparison.

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** Ditto for ''L.A. Quartet'' really, but there at least every book featured a stone-cold psycho killer and [[MagnificentBastard [[VilainWithGoodPublicity Dudley]] [[BiggerBad Smith]] so the "heroes" looked halfway-decent by comparison.

Added DiffLines:

* NiceGuy: Mal Considine in ''The Big Nowhere'' has his hang-ups and peculiarities but on the whole is probobably the most fundamentally decent of Ellroy's protagonists. [[spoiler: Not that it saves him from a bullet to the face but that's [[KillTheCutie James]] [[DownerEnding Ellroy]] for you.]]

Added DiffLines:

** Ditto for ''L.A. Quartet'' really, but there at least every book featured a stone-cold psycho killer and [[MagnificentBastard Dudley]] [[BiggerBad Smith]] so the "heroes" looked halfway-decent by comparison.

Added DiffLines:

** [[spoiler: RealityEnsues eventually when his conflicting loyalties eventually manage to piss off '''every single one''' of his employees and lead to Kemper getting killed at the end of the book.]]

Added DiffLines:

*ALighterShadeOfBlack: make no mistake, Ellroy's Mickey Cohen is every inch the brutal gangster, but compared to some other characters (both antagonists and protagonists) he doesn't come off that badly. It helps that he's usually the victim of other villains' schemes in all the books he appears.


* {{Author Appeal}}: Peeping.

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* {{Author Appeal}}: Appeal}}:
**
Peeping.


-->''The essential contention of the Underworld USA trilogy ... is that America was never innocent. Here's the lineage: America was founded on a bedrock of racism, slaughter of the indigenous people, slavery, religious lunacy ... and nations are never innocent. Let alone nations as powerful as our beloved fatherland. What you have in ''The Cold Six Thousand'' which covers the years '63 to '68 is that last gasp of pre-public-accountability America where the [[RedScare anti-communist mandate]] justified [[TheGovernment virtually any action]]. And it wasn't [[WhoShotJFK Kennedy's death]] that engendered mass skepticism. It was the protracted horror of the [[VietnamWar Vietnamese war]].''

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-->''The essential contention of the Underworld USA trilogy ... is that America was never innocent. Here's the lineage: America was founded on a bedrock of racism, slaughter of the indigenous people, slavery, religious lunacy ... and nations are never innocent. Let alone nations as powerful as our beloved fatherland. What you have in ''The Cold Six Thousand'' which covers the years '63 to '68 is that last gasp of pre-public-accountability America where the [[RedScare anti-communist mandate]] justified [[TheGovernment virtually any action]]. And it wasn't [[WhoShotJFK Kennedy's death]] that engendered mass skepticism. It was the protracted horror of the [[VietnamWar [[UsefulNotes/TheVietnamWar Vietnamese war]].''


--->''The essential contention of the Underworld USA trilogy ... is that America was never innocent. Here's the lineage: America was founded on a bedrock of racism, slaughter of the indigenous people, slavery, religious lunacy... and nations are never innocent. Let alone nations as powerful as our beloved fatherland. What you have in ''The Cold Six Thousand'' -- which covers the years '63 to '68 -- is that last gasp of pre-public-accountability America where the [[RedScare anti-communist mandate]] justified [[TheGovernment virtually any action]]. And it wasn't [[WhoShotJFK Kennedy's death]] that engendered mass skepticism. It was the protracted horror of the [[UsefulNotes/VietnamWar Vietnamese war]].''

to:

--->''The essential contention of the Underworld USA trilogy ... is that America was never innocent. Here's the lineage: America was founded on a bedrock of racism, slaughter of the indigenous people, slavery, religious lunacy... and nations are never innocent. Let alone nations as powerful as our beloved fatherland. What you have in ''The Cold Six Thousand'' -- which covers the years '63 to '68 -- is that last gasp of pre-public-accountability America where the [[RedScare anti-communist mandate]] justified [[TheGovernment virtually any action]]. And it wasn't [[WhoShotJFK Kennedy's death]] that engendered mass skepticism. It was the protracted horror of the [[UsefulNotes/VietnamWar [[UsefulNotes/TheVietnamWar Vietnamese war]].''


* {{Alliterative Name}}: He loves these. Wendell White, Ed Exley and Pierce Patchett in ''LA Confidential'', Bucky Bleichert in ''Black Dahlia''.
** Though Bucky's name is actually Dwight, and Wendell goes by Bud.



** LoveTriangles involving two cops and a hooker.

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** LoveTriangles {{Love Triangle}}s involving two cops and a hooker.



* {{Dirty Cop}}: It's fair to say that most of Ellroy's characters are either dirty cops or former dirty cops. [[spoiler:Dudley Smith]] from ''L.A. Confidential'' is just the one most people know. Edmund Exley was also ''far'' more compromised in the book than the film. The protagonist, Klein, is himself quite the DirtyCop, but the ultimate point is that his sins pale in comparison to either of theirs.



* {{Genre Shift}}: [[spoiler: ''Literature/WhiteJazz'']] and [[spoiler: ''Blood's a Rover'']] both end up in some very strange places for books that start out as hard boiled detective novels.

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* {{Genre Shift}}: [[spoiler: ''Literature/WhiteJazz'']] and [[spoiler: ''Blood's [[spoiler:''Blood's a Rover'']] both end ends up in some very strange places for books a book that start starts out as a hard boiled detective novels.novel.


* UsefulNotes/ColdWar: The setting for most of the Underworld USA Trilogy, specifically the early 60s-70s. Plus, ''The Big Nowhere'' features a subplot about a cop inflitrating a Communist group.


* ''Literature/WhiteJaz''

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* ''Literature/WhiteJaz''
''Literature/WhiteJazz''

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