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3.7 out of 5 stars25
3.7 out of 5 stars
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on 27 January 2005
I am a huge James Ellroy fan - having read almost all of his work - and while this trilogy is good, it is far from his best work. For example American Tabloid, LA Confidential and Black Dahlia are all much better.
If you are not familiar with James Ellroy it is worth noting that his prose style does not find universal favour. He writes in very short, punchy sentences - personally I find it an effective and entertaining style but it does irritate others.
It is interesting to note that in his introduction Ellroy claims that he wrote the second and third parts of the trilogy because after completing the first part he read Red Dragon by Thomas Harris which he acknowledges as a far superior book and felt he need to do better. On one level he is correct, Red Dragon is a superior book and Will Graham is a superior and more interesting 'hero'. However, he is harsh on himself - these are still very good books.
As is usual in Ellroy novels he concentrates on the psychological motivation of the main characters (sometimes, slightly simplistically, tying the whole personality back to a defining moment from childhood). Ellroy has the skill to carry this off and it works well (although he does flirt with caricature).
Overall, very good and certainly well worth reading although, in my opinion, not the place to start if you are new to Ellroy
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on 8 April 2013
You know the score with Ellroy - teeming sprawling underworld low lifes scuttle around a city like roaches while the police are barely one step above in terms of errant morality. The maelstrom of chaos and unpredictability. The descent into psychosis. The power of obsession. That's what Ellroy brings...
But not yet...
Most of the reviews are on the money by saying that Ellroy is on the road to greatness but not there yet. The majority are, for a change, right.
The bones of what makes Ellroy such compulsive reading are heere but he hasnt put meat on the bones yet. His characterisation isnt quite there yet, the plotting not so labrynthine (actually this may be a good thing as you need a spider diagram to understand later books), his use of snippets of magazines, letters, police reports is here in fractions but not to the extent it would later be used. There is that gloss of genius missing. The sense that you are reading the work of a very gifted author.
The three books are
BLOOD ON THE MOON ***
Ellroy very honestly says in the introduction that Thomas Harris' Manhunter is a far superior book. He is right. To be honest it is other a year since I read Blood On The Moon but I found it a stuggle. I found the killers motivations rather simplistic and the use of flashbacks rather heavy handed.
BECAUSE THE NIGHT ***
This felt like a wasted opportunity to me. What offered the prospect of Hopkins facing an adversary with an IQ as high as his doesnt materialise. I found elements of the book somewhat unbelievable. I think the "villain's" role and actions needed more focus.
SUICIDE HILL ****
This book suprised me. By Ellro's standards this has a very simplistic plot but this worked suprisingly well. An ex con is on the run after a spate of violent robberies. That's it. But it means that the book has a solid core to it that is refreshing. The "villain" is an interesting character, a hundred times more beliaveable than the "villain" in Because The Night, also strangely sympathetic too. Suicide Hill could be the quickest and easiest Ellroy book to read. This in no way a bad thing. In fact I at first gave this 3 stars but not I shall change it to 4 stars. Interestingly, one of the characters appears to be a Dudley Smith prototype...
So 2 *** books and 1 **** book so why an overall rating of ****? Because its 3 solid Ellroy books at a cheap price and even the flaws cast light on how Ellroy would improve.

Also note that Blood On The Moon was turned into a film: "COP" starring the ever brilliant James Woods. A solid 80s film, but ironically, not as good as the adaptation of Manhunter. James Woods is great as Hopkins though and I read the 2nd and 3rd books after seeing the film and James Woods was irrefutibly Hopkins in my mind. The film is worth checking out if you dig you books.
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on 19 May 2001
I was looking forward to reading this trilogy with great anticipation. Having only recently found Ellroy, I am rapidly devouring everything he's written. The first book in the trilogy,'Blood on the Moon' seemed to encompass everything I have come to know and love about Ellroy's work. The flawed hero, made human through he's weaknesses, a series of horrific crimes, a bleak dark view of LA wonderfully evoked. 'Blood on the Moon' is a great book.
It's just a shame that the concluding two thirds of the trilogy left me empty. For the character of Lloyd Hopkins, when it's bad it just keeps getting worse. The stories seems more fanciful and contrived, plot comes second to Hopkins. Hopkins problems drive the character, becoming more important than showing any real growth or development.
In the end I was disappointed, everything that marks Ellroy as one of the truely great crime writers is here, but the elemts just didn't end up working together. The experience hasn't stopped me reading Ellroy, or loving his work. This trilogy just ends up being below his usually high excellent standard.
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on 23 February 1999
I wish you guys (earlier customer reviewers) hadn't spoiled it for me, I was just beginning to like this. I've read the other Ellroy stuff and I still find this pretty good, so far. I like the setting (LA when Ellroy was a young man) because it helps to understand Ellroy a little bit better. While I don't think he's as creepy as either the protagonist or antagonist (first story), he know what its like to be that creepy.
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on 23 February 1999
I wish you guys (earlier customer reviewers) hadn't spoiled it for me, I was just beginning to like this. I've read the other Ellroy stuff and I still find this pretty good, so far. I like the setting (LA when Ellroy was a young man) because it helps to understand Ellroy a little bit better. While I don't think he's as creepy as either the protagonist or antagonist (first story), he know what its like to be that creepy.
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on 30 June 2012
Working my way through the first book in trilogy. Its sh*te. Im still looking for the old Elroy magic but I think this was written by a dog (not the demon dog). What is with all the soap opera tosh. Its making me reassess his other work in a more critical way and I don't know if I will waste my time anymore with this writer atter this abomination. P*ss poor stuff. I would reserve 1 star reviews to the likes of Dan Brown.
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on 5 June 1998
Unfortunately, this book is not the sequel to American Tabloid. Rather, it is the three Lloyd Hopkins novels in one volume. These are well worth reading, however. They show James Ellroy early in his career. The promise of the great writer Ellroy would become is on display in these earlier works.
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on 23 June 1998
Expecting the brillinace of 'The Black Dahlia', 'L.A. Confidential' or 'American Tabloid'? Well tough, buddy, you're not gonna get it! But you should read it anyways. Why? Cause the promising newcomer that wrote 'Brown's Requiem' had to evolve into the Big Boogaloo that wrote 'Dahlia' somehow, and these three novels show you pretty much the path he took. The first one is pure macho hero-worship with Ellroy writing about a brilliant, 'sex-obsessed' cop tracking a monster. Second, same, but the monster there rocks. Then the third, and Ellroy's hero is less brilliant, and he shows his new discovery: 'Macho' = 'Fear' = 'B.S.'. Book one is by the guy that wrote 'Requiem', book three is by the guy that wrote 'Dahlia'. If you're a fan, its like the proud moment when a baby learns its first swear word.
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on 6 August 2013
A fascinating prelude to the perfection of LA Confidential - Lloyd Hopkins' almost psychic detective talent is matched only by his macho mania and a kind of derailed mission fatigue that leads him a long way down those dark streets only certain kinds of men feel they have to go. Streets like that never lead to family homes with happy endings and Ellroy's noir is darkly dark; his writing is sparkly dark.
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on 22 July 1999
I read a lot of crime fiction, and nobody does what Ellroy does.Forget the fact that these are early Ellroy works. Forget the fact that they tale place in a different era than those visited in his more popular books (40's - 50's - 60's), that being the 1980's. Just groove on Ellroy's caffeinated prose and bask in the glory of its radiance!
I love that these books take place in the '80's. When you read other Ellroys you wonder what his take on the "modern world" would be. I found it just as relentless and glorious as the other time periods used in his later novels. Ellroy was writing these at the same time Brett Easton Ellis was writing Less Than Zero, the same time that the movie To Live and Die in L.A. appeared in theatres. This is a time and place in American history with tremendous dramatic literary potential. The fact that Ellroy's characters and story lines could exist in the 40's, 50's or 60's, with bourbon and jazz replacing cocaine and punk is a testement to Ellroy's undeniable brilliance.
And Lloyd Hopkins, the hero of these novels? He lacks the charm of a Spenser or Carella, posesses the demons and frailties of a Robicheaux or Scudder, but is still an Ellroy original. Love him or hate him while you read these books, but I guarantee you'll miss him when you're done.
Read L.A. Confidential or American Tabloid for the best Ellroy there is. Read L.A. Noir and just enjoy Ellroy.
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