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My Dark Places [Paperback]

James Ellroy
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
RRP: 8.99
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Book Description

9 Sep 2010

America's greatest crime writer investigates his mother's murder. On 21 June 1958, Geneva Hilliker Ellroy left her home in California. She was found strangled the next day. Her ten year-old son James had been with her estranged husband all weekend and was informed of her death on his return. Her murderer was never found, but her death had an enduring effect on her son - he spent his teens and early adult years as a wino, petty burglar and derelict.

Only later, through his obsession with crime fiction, triggered by his mother's murder, did Ellroy begin to delve into his past. Shortly after the publication of his groundbreaking novel WHITE JAZZ, he determined to return to Los Angeles and, with the help of veteran detective Bill Stoner, attempt to solve the 38-year-old killing.

The result is one of the few classics of crime non-fiction and autobiography to appear in the last few decades; a hypnotic trip to America's underbelly and one man's tortured soul.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Windmill Books (9 Sep 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099537842
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099537847
  • Product Dimensions: 2.4 x 13.2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 205,252 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

James Ellroy was born in Los Angeles in 1948. He is the author of the acclaimed LA Quartet, The Black Dahlia, The Big Nowhere, LA Confidential and White Jazz, as well as the Underworld USA trilogy: American Tabloid, The Cold Six Thousand and Blood's a Rover. He is the author of one work of non-fiction, The Hilliker Curse: My Pursuit of Women.

Product Description


"The outstanding American crime writer of his generation" (Independent)

"A gripping and quite awesome form of literature" (Express)

"Stunning...extraordinary" (Observer)

"A tour de force of confessional writing" (TLS)

"Ellroy proves that he is more than just a crime writer, he is one of the best and most important writers in America today" (VOX)

Book Description

America's greatest crime writer investigates his mother's murder

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Troubling, dark, compelling 15 Jan 2004
You might wonder how anyone could write publicly about such a brutal murder of his own mother and investigate the case, unflinchingly, with the police years later. However, this memoir is an excellent explanation of why Ellroy was compelled to delve further and further into his own history and attempt to unravel or "solve" his mother's past. He is refreshingly candid about his own failings, motives, and desires. Somehow he manages to maintain his very high standard of writing despite the upsetting material. I found the book gripping and throughly absorbing. Certainly regular readers of Ellroy's fiction will enjoy it, but I'd also recommend it to newcomers provided that they have a strong stomach.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Relentless 4 Sep 2005
To better understand (if not enjoy) My Dark Places, I would suggest that you need to have read at least one Ellroy novel. It will help to put this semi-autobiography into perspective, and if you're already an Ellroy fan it will make a great deal more sense. It's an extraordinary piece of work, so ruthlessly exhaustive in its detail that I for one felt almost physically tired by the time I had finished. Not tired of reading the book itself, but tired just to think of the incredible lengths Ellroy went to in order to track down his mother's killer some 37/38 years after her death in 1958. Although the book is dedicated to Ellroy's wife Helen, it could just as well have been dedicated to Bill Stoner, the retired ex-detective who committed himself absolutely to the cause of helping Ellroy in his unusual quest - but this might be an opportunity to mention two of Ellroy's greatest works American Tabloid and The Cold Six Thousand, one a sequel to the other; the latter was in fact dedicated to Stoner and deservedly so.
In one sense I feel that this book was written almost exclusively for Ellroy himself to read, I'm sure that he had little commercial incentive or reasoning to do it. Yet the raw, body-pummelling honesty of the book from start to finish makes for fascinating reading for those who, like myself, have ever wondered what made Ellroy write in the way he does in such classics as The Black Dahlia or The Big Nowhere. I have to admit that the short sentence style adopted in My Dark Places does irritate at times, in spite of the fact that the writer explains this after the end of the story. It gave me the impression that what we are reading, much of the time, are either his own or Stoner's investigatory notes and copied to the page verbatim.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An autobiographical horror story 15 Feb 2001
By Mrs. K. A. Wheatley TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
This was a very disturbing, yet compelling book. I found the author's honesty about his past really refreshing and strangely hopeful. The story of the search for his mother's murderer is heart rending and bleak and yet brilliant because it has no neat ending, so you really feel the aching void inside of him like he must feel it himself.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Unique 19 April 2000
By A Customer
Crime non-fiction doesn't come any more personal or heart-felt than this. The lack of obvious ending lends an unusual edge to the book. Loads of different techniques and approaches to the task in hand, maintaining the interest in a book where frequently very litte is actually happening. James Ellroy is not a fantastic crime writer. He is a fantastic WRITER with such a vast array of abilities as shown in the variety of his work; from a straight crime novel 'Clandestine' to the conspiracy theorising of 'American Tabloid' to this autobiographical tale of a boy who lost his mother.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
James Ellroy's "My Dark Places" will guide you through some of the murkiest details of America's crime history. Indeed, I was terrified by this book - and yet I couldn't stop reading it. I was fascinated by the account of the author's life -had it been a work of fiction, I never would have believed it. James Ellroy's dark places are noir, much like his novels, which you will be scrambling to read having devoured this very personal, and entirely unique, piece of writing.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Dark and disturbing places 31 Jan 2002
By A Customer
Format:Audio Cassette
Ellroy tackles his feelings surrounding the murder of his mother in the 1950s. He talks about the time of the event, his life from his then nine years old to late 20s, then detailing his 1996 investigation into his mothers death with LAPD detective Bill Stoner. It's an incredibly honest book, Ellroy doesn't pull any punches with his own reckless youth and later confrontations with his feelings for his murdered mother. It's intense, dark, often disturbing and a very enlightening read. Fans of Ellroy will recognise where he has drawn his myriad of characters from for his later novels, those who don't know his work will find it an excellent introduction to his fiction novels. It's well worth a read but not for the emotionally sensitive. Seeing a man lay his heart so bare is often uncomfortable.
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