Blood on the Moon by James Ellroy

If you are an Ellroy fan, you will probably notice his style in this the first of the “Lloyd Hopkins” books. Set in the seedy parts of Los Angeles Lloyd Hopkins is a hard boiled detective. The whole tone of the book is noir and Ellroy has a style of writing that is very visceral – it drives home the violence and the darkness with such authority that you don’t realize how tense you have been until you put the book down.

Lloyd is married but he has a complicated relationship with his wife and several other women in the book including his daughters. Ellroy’s mother was killed in Los Angeles around the time the Black Dahlia murder occurred. There is a lot of Freudian working it out with the mother figure in all his books but the true delight of that is that the women are complicated.

This book extends that theme. There are the hopeful Hollywood wannabe’s; the sometimes straight sometimes lesbian poetess; the loving wife who is getting fed up with Lloyd and the daughters whose bed time stories consist of Lloyd descriptions of all the gruesome goings on in the City of Angels.

To top off the mayhem, there is a crazy serial killer and a bunch of people both legal and illegal tainted by all the sex, drugs, violence and corruption that Hollywood can offer. Included in this group is Lloyd’s actual family which is as complicated and dysfunctional as Lloyd.

This a solid three and a half stars. It’s early Ellroy so the style is still raw but you can see the beginnings of what will be classic Ellroy writing style. Good book.


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