Friday, October 13, 2006

Suicide Hill, by James Ellroy

(hb; 1986: Book Three of the L.A. Noir trilogy)


Det Sgt Lloyd Hopkins is suspended, on the verge of losing his badge (something about perjury and evidence he planted) when he's brought back to bust a three-man kidnap/ransom team. Interoffice politics, betrayal, uncontrolled violence, and corpses – much of it brought about by the cops investigating the crimes, not the criminals themselves – results.

Ellroy keeps the interweaving, often complex, plot focused and sharp. While Suicide Hill carries the same urgent raw tone of the two previous books, it's different from them, mainly because certain roles have been reversed – this time, it's Hopkins who's more restrained (he's learned to control his “p***y hound” tendencies), and everyone else who's out of control. “Crazy Lloyd,” as he's called, is still a “hotdog cop,” but he's trying to get his wife and daughters to return, and that means keeping cool, even when the past – not just his own – threatens to explode the present.

Like the previous books (Blood on the Moon, Because the Night), Suicide Hill ends on a note of edgy grace. This is a bang-up capping novel for the Lloyd Hopkins trilogy, another worthwhile read from Ellroy.

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