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1-->''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/TheVietnamWar Vietnamese war]].''²--->-- James Ellroy²²One of the quintessential {{Mad Artist}}s of the 20th century, Lee Earle "James" Ellroy (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.²²He's also known for public appearances full of RefugeInAudacity, [[{{Troll}} trolling]], BrutalHonesty, [[UnreliableExpositor unreliable exposition]] and for maintaining a SmallNameBigEgo that makes other narcissists fume with envy. ²²His books include lots of BlackAndGrayMorality and DeliberateValuesDissonance, as well as LoadsAndLoadsOfCharacters. Particularly well-known is his "L.A. Quartet" - ''Film/TheBlackDahlia'', ''Literature/TheBigNowhere'', ''Literature/LAConfidential'', and ''Literature/WhiteJazz''.²²----²[[folder:Works by Ellroy]]²!!!Stand Alone Novels²Ellroy's first novels, written while caddying was still his full-time occupation. Accordingly golfing motifs appear quite frequently. ²* ''Brown's Requiem''²* ''Clandestine''-Notable for introducing a lot of elements that would surface later on in the first L.A. Quartet. Also features the first non-canonical appearance of Dudley Smith. Almost reads as something of a prototype for the future first book in the L.A. Quartet ''The Black Dahlia''. ²* ''Killer on the Road''²!!!Lloyd Hopkins Trilogy²Follows the exploits of a brilliant but unfaithful LAPD Sergeant named Lloyd Hopkins in 1980s Los Angeles. ²* ''Blood on the Moon''²* ''Because the Night''²* ''Suicide Hill''²!!!L.A. Quartet²Perhaps the most famous collection of books by Ellroy, tied with the Underworld U.S.A. trilogy. Centers on the corruption and criminality of L.A. during it's golden age. Spans from 1947 to 1959.²* ''The Black Dahlia''²* ''The Big Nowhere''²* ''L.A. Confidential''²* ''White Jazz''²!!!Underworld U.S.A Trilogy²More or less follows directly on from the L.A. Quartet, at least chronologically speaking. Has a much grander theatrical scale to it though, dealing with espionage and the dirty dealings of the United States as a whole. Several characters briefly mentioned in the L.A. Quartet also reappear in a much more prominent role. Spans from 1958 to 1972.²* ''American Tabloid''²* ''The Cold Six Thousand''²* ''Blood's a Rover''²!!!Second L.A. Quartet²A prequel of sorts to the events of the first L.A. Quartet. The narrative focus shifts back down a gear from the grand stage set by the Underworld U.S.A Trilogy, once again focusing on L.A. However, a distinct difference lies in the fact that the novels all take place in wartime America. Many characters from the first Quartet make appearances as is to be expected. Spans from 1942 to presumably 1945. ²* ''Perfidia''²* ''This Storm''²[[/folder]]²----²!!Works by Ellroy with their own trope pages:²²* ''Literature/TheBlackDahlia''²* ''Literature/TheBigNowhere''²* ''Literature/LAConfidential''²* ''Literature/WhiteJazz''²* ''Literature/{{Perfidia}}''²* ''Literature/ThisStorm''²²!!Other works by Ellroy contain examples of:²²* 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.²* ArchnemesisDad: Wayne Tedrow, Sr.²* AteHisGun: [[spoiler: Upshaw]] nearly goes out this way before realising that due to his homosexuality the imagery behind it would be used to mock him.²** Also [[spoiler: Ward Littell]] at the end of ''The Cold Six Thousand''²* TheAtoner: Wayne Tedrow Jr [[spoiler: and Dwight Holly, after his nervous breakdown]].²* AuthorAppeal:²** Peeping.²** Incest and serial killers. For a given value of appeal/horrified fascination. ²** Golf. ''Clandestine'' features pages and pages of it, and it turns up in several other novels. Ellroy used to be a caddy, and caddied up until the sale of his fifth book. Caddies feature prominently in ''Brown's Requiem'', his first book.²** Homosexual rape is an almost disturbingly recurring motif.²** {{Love Triangle}}s involving two cops and a hooker.²* AxCrazy: Most of the characters to some extent, but Jean-Philippe and his Cuban mercs stand out.²* BeenThereShapedHistory: The protagonists of the Underworld USA trilogy, who are somehow involved in every major American political event from the 1960 Kennedy campaign to Watergate.²* BewareTheNiceOnes: [[spoiler: Don Crutchfield and Karen Sifakis.]]²** In ''{{Literature/The Big Nowhere}}'' Meeks, Smith and other ostensibly far more badass characters give Mal Considine a wider berth than his otherwise unassuming demeanor would seem to require because, during his stint as an Army officer in Europan theater of World War II, when he witnessed the inside of a concentration camp first-hand, he walked into a room where the camp's commander was held and unloaded his sidearm into the latter's face.²* BroadStrokes: while Underworld U.S.A. COULD conceivably act as a follow-up to L.A. Quartet, the settings differ a good deal.²* CrapsackWorld: Notable as his books, from ''The Black Dahlia'' on, are intended to tell the secret history of 20th century America²* CreatorBreakdown: As noted above Ellroy's mother was murdered when he was young. As well as providing impetus and material for ''The Black Dahlia'' Ellroy wrote an autobiographical account of the effect it had on him in ''My Dark Places''. He actually tried to investigate the case himself in the mid-'90s, before realizing that there was little point to it as most of the people involved were dead.²* DeliberateValuesDissonance:²** ''LA Quartet'', set from 1947 to 1959, features even its more likable characters occasionally indulging in racial epithets, as well as similar attitudes to Jewish people. Ellroy deliberately points out how deeply ingrained into society those feelings were, that even nice people could get caught up in them.²** In ''Literature/TheBigNowhere'' [[spoiler:Upshaw]] is hounded into killing himself with the threat of revealing his homosexuality.²** Ellroy describes the themes of the ''Underworld USA'' trilogy thus:²--->''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/TheVietnamWar Vietnamese war]].''²* DoubleReverseQuadrupleAgent: Kemper Boyd in ''American Tabloid'', who simultaneously works for the Kennedy brothers, J. Edgar Hoover, the CIA, ''and'' TheMafia. If he had somehow worked out a way to get on the Hughes Tool Company payroll, he'd have been working both for and against every single faction in the novel simultaneously.²** [[spoiler: RealityEnsues eventually when his conflicting loyalties eventually manage to piss off ''every single one'' of his employers, and lead to Kemper getting killed at the end of the book.]]²* DrivenToSuicide: [[spoiler: Upshaw]] after his homosexuality is threatened to be leaked.²* FaceHeelTurn: Ward Littell in ''American Tabloid'', Wayne Tedrow, Jr. in ''The Cold Six Thousand'', [[spoiler: Hideo Ashida]] in ''Perfidia''.²* FateWorseThanDeath: The methods by which many of the characters are killed (although they do end up dead... eventually).²* GenreShift: [[spoiler:''Blood's a Rover'']] ends up in some very strange places for a book that starts out as a hard boiled detective novel.²* HeelFaceDoorSlam: Almost all of his novels end with one of the protagonists reaching out for redemption and being killed off before he can achieve it.²** Though [[spoiler: Dwight Holly]] probably gets it the worst of them all.²* HeroKiller: Dudley Smith hounds [[spoiler: Upshaw]] into committing suicide and personally guns down [[spoiler: Buzz Meeks]].²* HollywoodVoodoo: ''In Blood's a Rover'', though to be fair the focus is mostly on herblore and drugs, rather than zombies and magic. Plus it's an Ellroy book, so ''everything'' is shown as being bizarre and outlandish.²* KillEmAll: There's pretty much no one left standing by the end of [[spoiler: ''Blood's a Rover'']].²* MrAltDisney: Raymond Dieterling, founder of Dream-a-Dream Land in the ''L.A. Quartet''.²* NiceGuy: Mal Considine in ''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.]]²* NoGoodDeedGoesUnpunished: This happens a lot. For example, in ''The Cold Six Thousand'' Wayne Tedrow Jr is trying to get away from the shadow of his father - a racist who has made a fortune publishing hate literature. He is dispatched to kill an unarmed black man, who has offended the wrong people in Vegas, for the titular amount of money. He cannot bring himself to do it. The man he was sent to kill [[spoiler: ends up raping and murdering Wayne's wife]]. A similar thing happens in ''Bloods a Rover'' where Wayne goes to warn a black man that he is to be framed for a murder Wayne committed and [[spoiler: he ends up having to kill him and an innocent bystander after the guy attacks him. He goes on to steal from the Mob and uses the proceeds to fund leftist causes in the Dominican Republic after seeing how minorities are treated there. He is randomly murdered while walking among the people he is trying to help. Dwight Holly is murdered by Scotty Bennett when he tries to prevent Bennett from killing Crutch.]]²** Though [[spoiler: Wayne's]] death looks more like being DrivenToSuicide and [[spoiler: Dwight's]] does end up keeping [[spoiler: Crutch]] alive by proxy.²* SawedOffShotgun: A very common weapon in his books.²* ShellShockedVeteran: Pete Bondurant's service in WWII clearly took its toll on him. [[spoiler: By the end of ''The Cold Six Thousand'' the life he's led until that point also catches up with him. ''Hard''.]]²* ShootTheShaggyDog: [[spoiler: ''Blood's a Rover'']] comes very close to this. As one of the (very few) surviving characters notes towards the end of the book, having gone through hell and finally uncovered the conspiracy: "He had [the] story now. Facts clicked into place, redundant. Who gives a shit?"²* SlashedThroat: How [[spoiler: Upshaw]] kills himself. Ear to ear in one cut.²-->'''Buzz Meeks, while reading the case file:'''[[spoiler: Danny Upshaw]] wanted out, and fast.²* SuspiciouslySimilarSubstitute: Pete Bondurant for Buzz Meeks: a disgraced ex-DirtyCop turned Hollywood fixer who works as an enforcer for Howard Hughes.²* TookALevelInBadass: [[spoiler: Don Crutchfield]] overcomes voodoo drug induced paralysis through sheer force of will, bites the head off a live rat just to prove he can and kills the two guys who did this to him and were about to murder him. He later kills [[spoiler: Jean-Philippe and the mercs]] with a flamethrower and is responsible for the death of [[spoiler: J. Edgar Hoover]] and the destruction of his blackmail files. He is the only main character to survive the book and at the end it is revealed that, following the events of the novel, he became a Hollywood power broker. This character is the ChewToy for much of the story and his mob nickname is Dipshit.²* VillainProtagonist: The protagonists of the Underworld USA trilogy are a motley collection of extortionists, dope peddlers, mercenaries, con men, and assassins.²** Ditto for ''L.A. Quartet'' really, but there at least every book featured a stone-cold psycho killer and [[VillainWithGoodPublicity Dudley]] [[GreaterScopeVillain Smith]] so the "heroes" looked halfway-decent by comparison. ²* VillainWithGoodPublicity: Notably [[spoiler: Dudley Smith]], although most of Ellroy's cop protagonists are this to some extent.²* WhoShotJFK: Also Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy. In ''American Tabloid'' and ''The Cold Six Thousand''. ²* WithGreatPowerComesGreatInsanity: Michael Martin Plunkett. Former ChildProdigy and a SerialKiller.²----


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