Author(s): James Ellroy
Nominated for the Folio Prize
It is December 6 1941. America stands at the brink of World War II. Last hopes for peace are shattered when Japanese squadrons bomb Pearl Harbor. Los Angeles has been a haven for loyal Japanese-Americans - but now, war fever and race hate grip the city and the Japanese internment begins.
The hellish murder of a Japanese family summons three men and one woman. William H. Parker is a captain on the Los Angeles Police. He's superbly gifted, corrosively ambitious, liquored-up and consumed by dubious ideology. He is bitterly at odds with Sergeant Dudley Smith - Irish émigré, ex-IRA killer, fledgling war profiteer. Kay Lake is a 21-year-old dilettante looking for adventure. Hideo Ashida is a police chemist and the only Japanese on the L.A. cop payroll. The investigation throws them together and rips them apart. The crime becomes a political storm centre that brilliantly illuminates these four driven souls - comrades, rivals, lovers, history's pawns.
Perfidia is a novel of astonishments. It is World War II as you have never seen it, and Los Angeles as James Ellroy has never written it before. Here, he gives us the party at the edge of the abyss and the precipice of America's ascendance. Perfidia is that moment, spellbindingly captured. It beckons us to solve a great crime that, in its turn, explicates the crime of war itself. It is a great American novel.
A new novel from Ellroy is always a publishing event. That Perfidia is the first volume of his 'Second L.A. Quartet' makes this publication even more exciting.
"An epic and bizarrely transcendental novel that represents an extraordinary achievement by any measure...The zone of Ellroy's ambition, then, is an American Comedie Humaine...This is 700 pump-action pages of brutality, sex, extortion, eugenics, blackmail, back-stabbing and booze: a sustained farrago of social, moral and human chaos that makes Vice City look like a Christian folk festival...The entire cast of Ellroy's city chase liquor and drugs with such savagery that, by the end, you're murmuring about how Irvine Welsh is going to have to be re-shelved with the children's books...This all makes for a genuinely impressive feat of sustained literary energy: 90% of novelists couldn't get anywhere near it...His is an awe-inspiring artistic vision and this is a novel that should surely be read by new readers as well as fans." -- Edward Docx Guardian "James Ellroy's new blockbuster marks a triumphant return to the violent fictional world where he started - 1940s Los Angeles ... Fans will not be disappointed ... It is populated by many of Ellroy's most memorable monsters, notably LAPD Sgt Dudley Smith ... Reading it made me want to return to the original Quartet ... Perfidia is another compelling instalment." Evening Standard "There has never been a writer like James Ellroy." Telegraph "James Ellroy is back doing what he does best, weaving a tangle of tales set in wartime Los Angeles...I look forward, eagerly, to the next three instalments." The Times "Ellroy's back in his murky LA, and it's quite a ride...There surely can't be a more richly or brutally realised city in world literature than James Ellroy's Los Angeles...[Ellroy] has now returned to the LA of his seediest, sweatiest nightmares with Perfidia, the first of a hugely ambitious Second LA Quartet...The prose is still ultra-stripped back and punchy-jabby...The shock and awe of Ellroy's propulsive vision remains visceral, and reading him is about as physical as reading can get without being hit over the head by a book." -- Doug Johnstone Independent on Sunday
JAMES ELLROY was born in Los Angeles in 1948. He is the author of the 'Underworld U.S.A. Trilogy' - American Tabloid, The Cold Six Thousand and Blood's a Rover - and the 'L.A. Quartet' novels, The Black Dahlia, The Big Nowhere, L.A. Confidential and White Jazz. He lives in Los Angeles.