James Ellroy's "Perfidia" Is Awesome

September 12, 2014

Hey. Want to read an awesome piece of crime fiction? Go read James Ellroy's "Perfidia." The opening is amazing.

 

If you've read "Ghostman," then you probably know that I'm a huge fan of opening chapters. They're my favorite part of a book. An opening chapter, when done right, feels like falling through an Einstein-Rosen wormhole-- it sucks you in faster than the speed of light, then shoots you into a different universe with a tremendous amount of energy. It grabs you and pulls you, kicking and screaming, into the author's world.  It can intrigue, bewilder, and amp up the excitement. The opening chapter is the first taste of what's to come.

 

James Ellroy's "Perfidia," which is the first book in a Ellroy's planned second quartet of 1940s-era Los Angeles crime novels, has an amazing opening chapter.

 

Get this: it starts out as a crazy, racist pirate radio broadcast on December 5th, 1941, two days before Pearl Harbor. Get a load of this badass paragraph.

"The Jew Control Apparatus mandated this war-- and now it's ours, whether we want it or not. It has been said that no news is good news, but this maxim predates the wondrous invention of radio, with its power to deliver all the news --good and bad-- at rocket-ship speed. Regrettably, tonight's news is all bad, for the Nazis and the Japs are on a ripsnorting rampage-- and the war is rapidly heading our undeserved and unwanted way."

 

Look how easily and effortlessly Ellroy manages to pull you into his world! This opening not only sets the scene (Los Angeles, right before the attack on Pearl Harbor), but it sets the tone and mood of the book perfectly, by using the rantings of a racist whackjob Klan member to portray the fear and hysteria that gripped the American people at the time. Don't you want to read more? Don't you want to see where this is going?

I haven't finished this book yet, because it's 688 pages, but I'm decently into it and already know that I love it. If you're an Ellroy fan, I suggest you pick up a copy. Don't miss this one. It rocks.

 

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