James Ellroy

James Ellroy writes long crime novels out of very short sentences. It’s like he’s trying, but failing, to save typewriter ribbon. Blood’s a Rover (Knopf, $28.95) continues his project from American Tabloid and The Cold Six Thousand to rewrite Cold War history. Among the rogue FBI agents, corrupt cops, drug-dealing feds, Commie informants, and Black Panther infiltrators, old characters recur and new ones are introduced. It’s conspiracy as mythology, with regular appearances by J. Edgar Hoover, Howard Hughes, and even Richard Nixon. The novel covers 1964-1972, roughly the rise of dirty-tricks conservatism and the collapse of liberalism (due to causes natural and not). Yet the two can be surprisingly sympathetic bed partners; one Red sympathizer says of her FBI lover that, “Our shared goal is to perpetuate a containable chaos.” Each bank robbery, each assassination, each political payoff keeps the pot boiling, but there’d be no profit, for either side, if the revolution or a right-wing clampdown succeeded. The struggle must continue. But to stop 1972, the year of Hoover’s death? Before Watergate even happens? So much for Rover ending a trilogy. And what will Ellroy make of Jimmy Carter? (Also: Seattle Mystery Bookshop, noon, Fri. Oct. 9) BRIAN MILLER

Thu., Oct. 8, 7:30 p.m., 2009

 
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