Blood's A Rover by James Ellroy

Summer, 1968. Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy are dead. The assassination conspiracies have begun to unravel. A dirty-tricks squad is getting ready to deploy at the Democratic Convention in Chicago. Black militants are warring in southside L.A. The Feds are concocting draconian countermeasures. And fate has placed three men at the vortex of History.

Dwight Holly is J. Edgar Hoover’s pet strong-arm goon, implementing Hoover’s racist designs and obsessed with a leftist shadow figure named Joan Rosen Klein. Wayne Tedrow—ex-cop and heroin runner—is building a mob gambling mecca in the Dominican Republic and quickly becoming radicalized. Don Crutchfield is a window-peeping kid private-eye within tantalizing reach of right-wing assassins, left-wing revolutionaries and the powermongers of an incendiary era. Their lives collide in pursuit of the Red Goddess Joan—and each of them will pay “a dear and savage price to live History.”

Political noir as only James Ellroy can write it—our recent past razed and fully reconstructed—Blood’s A Rover is a novel of astonishing depth and scope, a massive tale of corruption and retribution, of ideals at war and the extremity of love. It is the largest and greatest work of fiction from an American master.

James Ellroy was born in Los Angeles in 1948. His L.A. Quartet novels—The Black Dahlia, The Big Nowhere, L.A. Confidential, and White Jazz—were international best sellers. His novel American Tabloid was Time magazine’s Best Book (fiction) of 1995; his memoir, My Dark Places, was a Time Best Book of the Year and a New York Times Notable Book for 1996. His novel The Cold Six Thousand was a New York Times Notable Book and a Los Angeles Times Best Book for 2001. Ellroy lives in Los Angeles.

Meet James Ellroy on his book tour

From our incredible interview with James Ellroy:

Q: It’s been 8 years since The Cold Six Thousand. How excited are you that Blood’s A Rover is finally being published?

A: Yes, it’s been eight years since my novel, The Cold Six Thousand. I was that long between books for a variety of reasons, all of which are determining factors in the Beethovian greatness of Blood’s A Rover. One, my marriage had to go in the shitter–as I rigorously held on to the friendship of my beloved ex-wife and most astute critic, Helen Knode. Helen convinced me to write a more emotionally and stylistically accessible novel–one that plumbed the murky recesses of my tortured, tender and perverted heart!!! Two, I had to become deeply embroiled with the transcendent woman, Joan, who re-taught me American history from the ground up. Three, I made a conscious decision to write an entirely different kind of novel–one that explored spiritual and political conversion on an all-new level, while, of course, adhering to readily identifiable and identifiably groovy Ellroy shit!!! This IS my greatest novel–and I owe it all to Helen, the Red Goddess Joan, and a woman named Cathy, with a daughter named Theodora, who was the basis for Karen Sifakis and her daughter, Eleanora. Life is full of groovy, twisted, curveball shit, and Blood’s A Rover explodes, both with autobiography and my knowledge of history, linked to a deep personal resolve.

Q: How does this book differ from the other two books in the Underworld U.S.A. Trilogy? The plot is quite complex, and there are tons of characters. How did you keep all the story lines straight?

A: Truth be told, it’s markedly less complex than The Cold Six Thousand and slightly more complex than American Tabloid. The historical period–1968-1972–is less iconic than the periods covered in the first two books; thus, I had greater latitude to fictionalize. Again, this is a novel of outward revolution and revolution of the soul. There is greater dialectic in this novel than in my previous twelve novels combined. How did I keep the storyline straight? I wrote a 397-page outline, that laid out the action, down to the most minute detail. Meticulousness, diligence, profoundly rigorous work habits all contributed to the greatness of this novel. During the odd moments that my super-human resolve faltered, I stared at the numerous portraits of Beethoven that adorn my pad and at the photo of Joan that I keep on my nightstand (the left side, of course).

Keep reading this interview (you know you want to!)