- Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy: Ellroy's protagonists are usually assholes, and his antagonists are even worse. At some point the reader is likely to think that if they just killed each other off, the world would be an ever-so-slightly better place.
- Foreshadowing: Hideo Ashida is detained after the events of Perfida on a promise of early release from Dudley. If you've read The Black Dahlia you'll know that Hideo dies in prison so something in that plan goes awry.
- Funny Moments: Pete Bondurant forcing a Klansmen ally to hand out frozen turkeys in a poor black neighborhood dressed as Santa Claus.
- Hilarious in Hindsight: One of Ellroy's appearances on the Conan O'Brien show had him joking about starting an equal opportunity Ku Klux Klan in Kansas City, where he was living with his (now ex) wife at the time. One of the fellow guests on that particular interview was Dave Chappelle, who would later go on to do a skit about a black White Supremacist who didn't know he was black, because he was also blind.
- Ho Yay: Quite a bit of it occurs between Danny Upshaw and Mal Considine. Not that surprising if you consider Danny's in the closet...
- Nightmare Fuel: Any of the many, many descriptions of torture. One of the worst is the extract from the killer's journal in The Black Dahlia. Also the woman in so much pain, with her head being crushed in a vice that she bit out her tongue so she couldn't talk - forcing her captors to kill her from The Cold Six Thousand.
- In the Black Dahlia, there's the graphic description of the child porn movie that Elizabeth Short and another girl are performing in. They were high on drugs while shooting it, and it's full of descriptions of their glassy, vacant stares, and them mouthing "NO" to the camera. You will feel dirtier than a son of a bitch, reading it. Even Lee Blanchard couldn't take it.
- Plot Hole: Perfidia reveals that Dudley Smith is Elizabeth Short's real father. Given his complete absence in The Black Dahlia there's going to have to be some explaining as to whether he could have prevented, solved or instigated her murder. A man of his stature could not have just not known about one of the most infamous real-life killings in history.
YMMV / James Ellroy