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America's master of noir delivers his masterpiece a rip roaring devilishly wild ride through the bloody end of the 1960's It's dark baby and hot hot hot Martin Luther King assassinated Robert Kennedy assassinated Los Angeles 1968 Conspiracies theories are taking hold On the horizon looms the Democratic Convention in Chicago and constant gun fire peppers south LA Violence greed and grime are replacing free love and everybody from Howard Hughes Richard Nixon and J Edgar Hoover to the right wing assassins and left wing revolutionaries are getting dirty At the center of it all is a triumvirate the president’s strong arm goon an ex cop and heroine runner and a private eye whose uarry is so dangerous she could set off the whole powder keg With his trademark deadly staccato prose James Ellroy holds nothing back in this wild startling and much anticipated conclusion to his Underworld USA trilogy 

10 thoughts on “Blood's a Rover

  1. says:

    “I paid a dear and savage price to live History”And that’s the message of James Ellroy's bloody and brilliant Underworld USA trilogy American Tabloid The Cold Six Thousand and Blood’s A Rover summed up in one sentence Here at the end it’s all about remorse radicals revolution rebellion revenge and redemption To borrow some Ellroy style alliterationThe book begins with a brief flashback to an ard car heist in 1964 that might have been planned by The Joker considering the body count and betrayal involved A fortune in emeralds and cash is unaccounted for years later and is one of the main issues driving the plotCut to 1968 where Wayne Tedrow Jr is dealing with the aftermath of the last book and his involvement in the plots to kill Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy Wayne’s weird form of racism has been burnt out of him like a fever following the MLK and RFK hits but he uickly takes over fronting the Mob’s on going plans to sell Howard Hughes their Vegas hotels and build a new casino empire in a Latin American country so they can recreate Cuba pre Castro But Wayne is now severely conflicted The guy who processed massive amounts of heroin being run out of Vietnam is now adamant about a no heroin policy He worked on the MLK hit and killed several black men but starts dating a black woman he’s linked to by tragedy and he’s vowed to find her missing son Wayne doesn’t want the local population abused while the new casinos are built in the Dominican Republic even though he’s the guy making it happenDwight Holly was also in on the MLK and RFK hits as J Edgar Hoover’s preferred enforcer with the FBI but his years of loving a radical woman he’s protected with an informant status are also starting to influence him He’s worried about how fast Hoover is getting senile but since Hoover still has a blackmail file on him he has to keep going along with Hoover’s plans of infiltrating and discrediting the militant black movementDon Crutchfield Crutch is an idiot kid who uses his voyeur tendencies as an errand boy for low rent private detectives in LA When he accidently finds out some dirt on Wayne and Dwight he gets pulled into their lifestyle but he’s so geeky and impressionable that he still thinks rabid anti Communism is cool even as they waver between warning him off or killing him Hanging over all of them is Red Joan a legendary left wing radical who is involved with all of their plans in ways they can’t even imagineThis is a departure for Ellroy He backed way off his hipster staccato style in this one going with simple declarative sentences and dropping a lot of the schtick that made The Cold Six Thousand almost unreadable in spots It’s his most traditional writing since The Big NowhereEllroy also steps away from the real history to spin this wild tale of the three men and Red Joan Hoover still appears in an increasingly delusional state via the usual transcripts of phone calls and Richard Nixon makes a few very funny call transcripts too as the ultimate political hack who knows he’s been bought and paid for But the real people and events start to fade over the course of the book Watergate is barely mentioned as a planned Nixon black bag job The old power structures are crumbling Hoover and Nixon may be the last ones standing but the country is growing out of their control By killing the leaders who would have worked within the system people are turning to radical means of change so the Bad White Men revised the rules without realizing it when they killed JFK RFK and MLK The focus here is on Wayne and Dwight’s growing horror at the lives they’re leading and Crutch’s growth from an idiot geek they call Dipshit to the same lessons that Wayne and Dwight learned And as always with Ellory the attempts at redemption have a terrible costCrutch is one of Ellroy’s oddest creations Supposedly based on a real Los Angeles private investigator who Ellroy claims has some extra knowledge of events of this time frame Crutch is also part Ellroy incorporating his well documented tendencies for break ins panty sniffing and window peeping when he was a teen age homeless drunk and drug addict before getting clean and becoming a writer Crutch is a weird hybrid of a couple of real guys written as the watcher who sees everything burn when all the old debts come dueBrutal violent profane but surprisingly tender at times I don’t think I’d put this one in the class of American Tabloid yet but it’s going to haunt me for a while

  2. says:

    barreling down the 101 in a '63 impala psychojazz suawking outta busted speakers sucking hard at a bottle of beam poppin' dexies every few miles truckstop whore's got your cock in her mouth spots and stars and sunbursts all over the sky the road the windshield and yer mainlining speedballing ramrodding straight through american history everything looks different then maybe it is and this is it in all its nastiness and it just ain't ever gonna stop beam dripping all down your shirt runnin' low on whites jizz all over her chin and history is formed forged and foisted on us by the wicked if stone 'history is a tragedy not a melodrama' james joyce 'history is a nightmare from which i am trying to awake' after all the wars and lies and coups and assassinations we are left with myths of nobility and virtue and honor heh heh blood's a rover 'clay lies still but blood's a rover' is different than the two which preceded it in that we are at the end of the game and the proverbial 'cracked eggs' make up the whole damn omelette fuck the spics in guatemala if we want their bananas we take them fuck the spics in chile if we don't like the results of a free election we'll take it fuck the niggers in africa if we don't like what their leader says we kill him and fuck the sandniggers in ira and the ones in iran all the sandnigger dune coon towelhead cameljockey motherfuckers are really the same sandnigger dune coon towelhead cameljockey motherfuckers whether you spell it with a '' or an 'n' and shit the kikes are no different law #17 'the alike two peoples are the they hate one another' law #24 'the arid ugly and horrible a piece of land is the fiercer they'll fight for it' but it's a testament to something really that the united states of america is as free as it is and it is free despite the cries of the far left and it is free despite the tactics of the far right and despite 'it' despite that uasi mystical thing give it a name human folly or History or pure motherfucking satanic juju or military industrial fuckoff there is some reason some conglomeration of reasons that we here in america move along in a predominately forward moving fashion; that the niggers of yesterday are presidents of today and that matthew shepard is remembered years later and that the two largest groupings of people i've seen in my lifetime assembled to protest the war in ira and to express rage at a bill that fears boys kissing boys we are a nation whose citizens poll higher in favor of torture than china's it's the evangelicals and a nation which believes that free medical coverage for all her citizenry is a pandora's box of financial ruin and socialism yes but we're moving forward old school imperialism is nearly discredited and racism isn't hip and the internet doesn't allow politicians to freely stab away at intern gash and secretary snatch and this is by and large a good thing we're miles away from zimmy's dream of the president standing naked but one feels a tingle of pleasure when one sees the bush criminals defending their legacies aware now that they may very well go down in the books for the monsters that they are i think ellroy got spooked the man'd never admit it but i think the political climate of the past few years and the devotion of over a decade of life to these treacherous and honest and brilliant books gave him a right and raw beatdown and the exhaustion the nation felt at the end of the nixon era or the bush era the disgust we've felt at the subtle and not so subtle awareness that it was picking up speed and devouring and well it's spread across the final sections of this book the final volume of the 'USA' trilogy in a kind of glorious shitsmash it's something important and spooky and something i choose not to write about as i'm reviewing this book five weeks before it has even been released so start with american tabloid and if you dare power through the cold six thousand and when there's nowhere lower to go go lower blood's a rover

  3. says:

    You will read with some reluctance and capitulate in the end The following pages will force you to succumb I am going to tell you everything” ― James Ellroy Blood's a Rover This is how the 60s ends this is how the 60s ends not with a bang but a peeper James Ellroy's Underworld trilogy was fantastic but this was my least favorite of the three books Looking back I think they all were amazing but this one just dragged a bit too far and wasn't as tight or stylized as his other two But tied all together they create an amazing and yes depressing portrait of the corruption and conspiracies of the JFK American Tabloid assassination Bobby Kennedy MLK The Cold Six Thousand assassinations and Hoover years Filled with CIA agents FBI agents rogue cops corrupt cops black panthers femme fatales voodoo Cuba conspiracies intrigue etc these books read like the back side of some warped people's history This isn't your mother or father's history This is the devil's diary the assassin's journal the sludge and the gout of history It is the underbelly and the corruption Sometimes you learn as much from the worm as the eagle This book is the worm and it is brilliant I'm sad it is over and sad this series will never again be a shock Reading these books seems to be as close as you can come without ingesting methamphetamine of experiencing the chalk crystal and ice of those years of Camelot that weren't photographed in Life magazine The prose and the dialogue seemed to drill into my brain as I read It was relentless I think about the prose and the narrative and I wonder about how any writer could emerge from birthing this series without scars wounds and serious therapy debt I'm glad Ellroy paid the price that we might experience this work of art

  4. says:

    ⭐️⭐️12Ellroy seems like he's running out of steam here Story wise and stylistically this novel fits right in as the final book in the Underworld USA trilogy where he documents his own version of the history of this country's turbulent '60's with this book pulling us from the MLK and Bobbie Kennedy assassinations and into the early 70's with the Nixon years and the Black Power movement But it's a far cry from the uality of his masterpiece American Tabloid and surprisingly I even liked it a little less than the disappointing The Cold Six Thousand While those two previous books had solid structures that moved on a path to their respective inevitable events in history the historical material here doesn't provide such a trajectory and much of it started to feel really repetitive Even though it's an easier read than Cold Six the main characters here were barely engaging The book's best character by far the fascinating FBIBlack Power Movement double agent Marshall Bowen is relegated to mostly journal entries where the book would've been so much better if he was a POV characterI still love Ellroy's work in general but in this one he either run out of interesting material to fill an epic novel or the good stuff that he did have was misused

  5. says:

    There might be some spoilers I will make sure that they pop up later in the review Don't hit if you don't want to see them The hump sucked up fear and hate wholesale He was a stone shit magnetAfter 1600 plus pages in the past three weeks slumming in the netherworld of Ellroy's vision of American history my brain has fried itself on staccato prose excessive violence and a belief that we are all rotten to the core I feel complicit I want a sap A few throw down pieces I want to walk next to History even though my mind barely survived the first brush with it Blood's a Rover a strange book The story picks up where The Cold Six Thousand ends 1968 MLK and RFK are dead JEH is estatic he's also aging fast Dracula is buying up all of Vegas and the mob is dreaming of manifest destiny for their lost casinos to the Beard The story begins in 1964 temporally in the time when Dallas was being sanitized but here on an eventful LA morning when a baaad ass ard truck robbery went down Convergence Compartmental seepage Stories running into one another Stories melding Muddying the waters with blood and narratives History moves on the characters along for the ride running along the abyss of morality right towards the swirling meat grinder of History On the surface Blood's a Rover is a continuation of the first two novels Surfaces lie Appearances deceive A fourth book flexes its muscles My Dark Places glides under and between the Cheltenham letters A character reads much like Ellroy Teenage peeper Adolescent rebellion rebelling against the sixties with the aplomb of going too far in the other direction A mother gone missing an obsession of why A weak absent father The Devil Dog has put himself into the passenger seat of History He names himself dipshit He pulls the trigger on the JFK trigger man He blows the lid off of History He further blurs fact and fiction While dipshit's story moves forward other stories fall away Where are the Boys? What happened to Drac? Vegas? Watergate is coming but that too falls to the side Los Angeles starts looming larger and larger even as the story does the frug around the country To the Dominican Republic To voodoo villages of Haiti The story shifts It recompartmentalizes The story becomes LA It becomes dipshit And Joan And Karen The vision goes from super fucking wide lensed to myopic The book shifts It feels incomplete for the American Trilogy It jives as an epilogue for the LA uartet Something is unsettling about the book as a whole It feels like a couple of books in one I have to remind myself that somethings happened in this novel and not in The Cold Six Thousand Maybe this isn't a true five star book but the series as a whole is and what Ellroy does in this book is his own thing He has created his own mythology of America and in the end brought it all back to the city that spawned him

  6. says:

    I just finished reading the latest James Ellroy book Blood's A Rover It's a weighty slog to get through the novel at nearly 650 pages I used to be a big James Ellroy fan Now I feel Ellroy is very much past his prime as a relevant writer I finished the book because I wanted to see what happened I read both the good American Tabloid and the terrible The Cold Six Thousand that preceded this hopefully last entry in the trilogy to the characters involved Ellroy's mostly two dimensional characters and hipster late 60's jargon were wearying from the beginning If you really like Ellroy read White Jazz again instead Ellroy substitutes what he considers style for substance whenever possible in Blood's A Rover But since he includes characters like Nixon J Edgar Hoover various famous mobsters and his main characters are responsible for the JFK RFK and MLK assassinations and much in one way or another he has some built in gravitas which he tends to suander on characters who all seem to hate either African Americans or homosexuals or both Ellroy tosses so many famous characters into the blender of his revisionist history where they emerge as little than caricatures that the tactic goes from being fun at first to just plain formulaicI'm a fan of sex and violence and hard boiled fiction but Blood's A Rover is so persistently ugly and pointless that it just bores me after a while from endless repetition The same puerile nonsense over and over The fascination with Communist insurgency most of the characters either start red or go red during the book in one way or another as a reaction to the fascism of J Edgar Hoover and Nixon etc is constant in Blood's A Rover Yet that red fascination destroys or disfigures all of the main characters in the endBy the end it's hard to care about the big mystery Ellroy hangs his bloated tome on this time around This time it's a stolen shipment of emeralds and cash He lays out the bad guys' motivation in a bland chapter of exposition near the end which seems to me to be bad storytelling craft pure and simple I think I'm going to try to return the book and get my money back

  7. says:

    Ellroy closes out the Underworld USA Trilogy in style with a book that sees its characters moving from authority to revolution and from history's secrets to its marginsAs always I'll assume you've read the preceding books Blood's a Rover continues the story of Wayne Tedrow Jr who fresh from participating in the MLK assassination and orchestrating his father's murder is struggling with guilt burnout and his own past especially how it's reflected back at him by everyone he meets He's trying to keep the hard dangerous uality he developed over the course of The Cold Six Thousand but find better ways to deploy it including a way that he hopes might lead him to some sort of redemption He's tentatively joined in that by FBI agent Dwight Holly whose intimacy with his leftist uaker informant may finally be starting to tip him towards her beliefs than his own especially with J Edgar Hoover's sharpened deterioration Circling and observing them is Don Crutchfield aka Dipshit aka Peeper whose private eye assistance is really just a monetization of his own deep rooted voyeurism who never met an older woman he couldn't fall in obsession with Given his vanished mother and the way all the objects of his peeping tom fascination evoke her it's possible Crutch may Remind You of Someone view spoilerwhich Ellroy uses very neatly towards the book's conclusion when he positions Crutch as the authorcollator of the preceding pages hide spoiler

  8. says:

    Ellroy does redemption It's not pleasant There's a mantra that runs throughout the book Nobody dies But this is Ellroy So you can guess how well that works outIn some ways this review is pointless at least as a guide to any potential reader Let's face it if you've read American Tabloid and The Cold Six Thousand you already know whether you are going to read this one or not If you haven't read either of those then you owe it to yourself to give American Tabloid a shot or maybe start further back with The Black Dahlia or The Big Nowhere These are some of my favorite books White Jazz is still tops of Ellroy for me and Ellroy is one of my favorite writersAfter The Cold Six Thousand I wondered how he was going to crank the style up another notch Maybe he would figure out a way to write a book that contained nothing but one word sentences? Instead he eased off a little bit on his formal restrictions The fractured sentences coming in threes disappears here and Ellroy allows himself a bit of freedom in his constructions This makes for easier reading Here he allows himself sentences as complicated as you would find in a Dick and Jane primer and he uses this to evoke an astonishing array of effects and emotions from hipster kidding to brutal torture to pure hallucinogenic voodoo shit All in short simple declarative sentences It's brilliant fascinating addicting and a bit offputting all at onceThe main characters are typical Ellroy Wayne Tedrow ex racist mobbed up personal Heroin chef for Howard Hughes He sells Las Vegas casinos to Hughes and then helps the mob launder the skim money they steal after the sales He has a reputation for killing negroes but few people know that he masterminded the hit on Martin Luther King Now he's trying to set up some offshore casinos for the mob to take the place of what they lost in CubaThen there's Dwight Holly He's an FBI enforcer tied in tightly with J Edgar himself He also commands the admiration of Nixon His main job here is to get informants into black militant groups start the groups running heroin into the ghetto and then make some busts to discredit the entire black nationalist movement It's the biggest bug up Hoover's ass in his declining years and Holly does what Hoover wants He too was in on the assassinations of RFK and KingThe new kid on the block is Don Crutchfield AKA Peeper and Dipshit He turns his peeping penchant into a career He also has insatiable curiosity and the inability to let go of anything In some ways he is the proxy for Ellroy himself Almost everyone in the book underestimates Crutch But Ellroy makes him almost too powerfulAnd in a twist there is a fourth POV character who comes in late for his POV sections That would be Scotty Bennett an LAPD officer who wears a bowtie embroidered with 18s for the number of black armed robbers he has killed By the end of the book I don't know how high the number would be Besides legal and some illegal murder Bennett has a pure fixation on an open case an ard car robbery back in 1964 where the surviving thieves got away with a couple of mill and a shitload of emeraldsThe book starts just before the 68 convention riots and basically covers the Nixon administration There are two main differences between this book and the earlier two First this book involves a series of failures by the main characters In those books the characters set out to do terrible things and by and large they succeed The main characters there are horrible vicious and very effective Here the main characters become riddled with doubts And they also tend to fail in their main goals And their failures are intimately tied to their uest for some kind of redemption In this way I think this book and the main characters hark back to figures like Buzz Meeks from The Big Nowhere Also I want to point out that I am definitely oversimplifying here It's a broad impression that I have but there are lots of details that point other ways so other people might disagreeThis book also had some great humor One of my favorite things in the book is the treatment of Watergate Basically Holly dumps off the job to Howard Hunt because he's too busy and interested in the other evil shit he's involved with For the real players here Watergate merits simply an afterthought I haven't read many reviews but I find it hard to believe that Ellroy especially in these last three books would have readers who did not react strongly It seems to me that you should either love him or hate him I can't imagine being blase I love him I think his vision of history is manic sick twisted and vulgar I also find it compelling and hard to dismiss and that comes largely from the force and conviction of his writing It's rare to see anyone writing stuff that is simultaneously so compellingly honest and so transparently false It takes a rare kind of brilliance to pull this shit off and I'm really happy that Ellroy has done itI also think its oddly fitting that I finished this book on July 4

  9. says:

    The final book in James Ellroy's Underworld USA trilogy Blood's A Rover is an exciting provocative examination of crooked cops and the conspiracies that have shaped this country Ellroy is probably one of my favorite writers ever but I can't seem to read him one after another I need long breaks between his books they are so intense and disturbing They are however a joy to read as his language is a hodge podge of cop slang pulp and stream of consciousness His characters are fascinating as well There are never any good guys as Ellroy doesn't believe that anyone is good Everyone is just different shades of evil His anti heroes however do occasionally do the right thing but invariably for the wrong reasons or on accident Blood's A Rover is set between 1964 and 1972 starting with the assassinations of Bobby Kennedy and Dr Martin Luther King and ending with Watergate FBI agent Dwight Holly works directly for JEdgar Hoover cleaning up the messes left over from Hoover's personal crusades He has just come off the assignment of Bobby KennedyDr King's assassinations setting up the two patsies who would successfully go down in history as the official assassins Hoover's next assignment destroy the militant black organization known as The Black Panthers from within Holly recruits the help of his old cop friend Wayne Tedrow Jr who recently killed his own father so that he could carry on his love affair with his stepmother without any inconveniences Tedrow has a reputation for killing the most blacks while on duty as an LAPD officer so Holly knows he'd be perfect for the gig Then there is Don Crutch Crutchfield a young cop with an unhealthy obsession he's searching for a woman involved in an ard car heist in '63 that resulted in three dead guards two dead robbers and the theft of over several million dollars worth of stolen emeralds As always Ellroy employs countless minor characters and subplots that complicate an already complex plot Therein lies the fun It may help to read the series in order starting with American Tabloid followed by The Cold Six Thousand as some characters and events from those books are referenced in this one

  10. says:

    This series really does fall victim to the law of diminished returns I’ve already noted how ‘The Cold Six Thousand’ is not as good as ‘American Tabloid’ but ‘Blood’s A Rover’ is a considerable dip from all that went beforeIt was never going to be easy ‘American Tabloid’ focused on the assassination of JFK while ‘The Cold Six Thousand’ built up to the deaths of RFK and Martin Luther King And although the years after that were tumultuous and eventful ones in America’s history there is no big moment for Ellroy to latch onto and the book suffers from malaise as a conseuence well I suppose there is Watergate but that’s deliberately ignored He then makes it even harder on himself by having the least convincing and least rounded central character from ‘The Cold Six Thousand’ as the only surviving main character into this book That problem is confounded by surrounding him by other truly unconvincing and unpleasant individuals so that there’s no one at all for the reader to empathise with Indeed one of the things which seems to have vanished in this volume is Ellroy’s sense of distinct character as many of them just blend into each other It wouldn’t be inaccurate to say that a fairly un commonplace phrase such as “my relationship with him is mutually usurious’ could be uttered by any single person in this book They all speak in exactly the same wayI guess the big villain of the piece is supposed to be J Edgar Hoover and indeed – since he’s the only major recurring figure in all three books – one could argue that the trilogy is about him Once again though Ellroy gets it wrong The Director of the FBI is losing his marbles and whereas that gets some good chuckles it means he stops being a huge scary monster Instead we just have a sad and pathetic old man someone who drools blank eyed in restaurants – and what kind of villain does that make?The book does open with a fantastic robbery scene but then the plot twists and turns many characters die along the way and by the end the whole thing seems to have lost its point The entire structure feels haphazard and all over the place And so the uestion arises all those years ago when Ellroy started to write this trilogy – was this really how he conceived the ending? An epic tale which began by examining one of the most defining events of the last fifty years finishes with a whole different set of characters most of whom few people could care about dealing with the conseuences of a fictional robbery in a truly un dramatic wayEllroy is too good a writer to produce a truly terrible book but this a huge disappointment