Fever Dreams of Your FBI
By Norman Rush
James Ellroy's astonishing creation, the Underworld USA Trilogy, is complete. Its concluding volume, Blood's a Rover, has just been published. The three long thrillers that make up the trilogy (American Tabloid, 1995; The Cold Six Thousand, 2001; Blood's a Rover, 2009) present a brutal counterhistory of America in the 1960s and 1970s—the assassinations, the social convulsions, the power-elite plotting—through the lives of invented second- and third-echelon operatives in the great political crimes of the era. The trilogy is biblical in scale, catholic in its borrowing from conspiracy theories, absorbing to read, often awe-inspiring in the liberties taken with standard fictional presentation, and, in its imperfections and lapses, disconcerting.
Ellroy, who is in his early sixties, is the celebrated, prolific, and popular author of a body of genre crime fiction, crime journalism, and a forensic memoir dealing with his own dark family history. His work has been made into movies and television shows, and widely translated. There are Web sites devoted to Ellroy, and he connects with his fans through Facebook.
The Underworld USA Trilogy is generally regarded as Ellroy's magnum opus. It is unique in its ambitions, and proceeds at a level of art distinctly above that attained in his famously lurid and violent but more conventional books. It is a fiction unlike any other.
The Heart of Nixonian Darkness
By Bill Sheehan
"Blood's a Rover," like the volumes that precede it, is clearly not a conventional thriller. It is, rather, a rigorously constructed, idiosyncratic novel that uses the materials of crime fiction to examine the forces that have shaped -- and warped -- our recent history: racial tension, ideological warfare, greed, corruption and unbridled fanaticism in all its forms. Ellroy's bleak, brooding worldview, his dense, demanding style and his unflinching descriptions of extreme violence will almost certainly alienate large numbers of readers. But anyone who succumbs to the sheer tidal force of these novels will experience something darker, stranger and more compelling than almost anything else contemporary fiction has to offer.