Blood's A Rover

By James Ellroy
Binding:Hardcover
Publisher:Knopf, (9/22/2009)
Language:English



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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.
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"Blood's A Rover"
By James Ellroy

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Amazon.com Review
Amazon Best of the Month, September 2009: James Ellroy's L.A. Quartet novels chronicled a cynic's take on Los Angeles cops and robbers, carving a dark and creepy nook for the author in the world of crime fiction. With Blood's a Rover, Ellroy completes his Underworld USA trilogy, an epic reinvention of American history, politics, and corruption. This book comes out firing: Ellroy's hipster prose--inimitable for its high style and spectacular energy--snaps and surges through more than 600 pages like black electricity, shocking the gentle reader from page one. Opening with a heist scene rendered as coldly violent as anything from Sam Peckinpah's most sociopathic fantasies, the story hurls itself across an improbable crazy quilt plot, including Howard Hughes's Vegas power-play, political abuses and machinations in Hoover's FBI, and the mob's ubiquitous shadow, darkening everything from JFK's assassination to Nixon's 1968 Presidential campaign. Another audacious effort from a one-of-a-kind talent, Blood's a Rover is thrilling and exhausting, a gloriously guilty pleasure. --Jon Foro 

From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Ellroy concludes the scorching trilogy begun with 1995's American Tabloid with a crushing bravura performance. As ever, his sentences are gems of concision, and his characters—many of whom readers will remember from The Cold Six Thousand and from American history classes—are a motley crew of grotesques often marked by an off-kilter sense of honor: stone bad-asses, in other words, though the women are stronger than the men who push the plot. The violence begins with an unsolved 1964 L.A. armored car heist that will come to have major repercussions later in the novel, as its effects ripple outward from a daring robbery into national and international affairs. There's Howard Hughes's takeover of Las Vegas, helped along by Wayne Tedrow Jr., who's working for the mob. The mob, meanwhile, is scouting casino locations in Central America and the Caribbean, and working to ensure Nixon defeats Humphrey in the 1968 election. Helping out is French-Corsican mercenary Mesplede, who first appeared in Tabloid as the shooter on the grassy knoll and who now takes under his wing Donald Crutchfield, an L.A. peeping Tom/wheelman (based, curiously, on a real-life private eye). Mesplede and Crutchfield eventually set up shop in the Dominican Republic, where the mob begins casino construction and Mesplede and Crutchfield run heroin from Haiti to raise money for their rogue nocturnal assaults on Cuba. In the middle and playing all sides against one another is FBI agent Dwight Holly, who has a direct line to a rapidly deteriorating J. Edgar Hoover (the old girl) and a tormented relationship with left-wing radical Karen Sitakis, and, later, Joan Klein, whose machinations bring the massive plot together and lead to more than one death. Though the book isn't without its faults (Crutchfield discovers a significant plot element because something told him to get out and look; Wayne's late-book transformation is too rushed), it's impossible not to read it with a sense of awe. The violence is as frequent as it is extreme, the treachery is tremendous, and the blending of cold ambition and colder political maneuvering is brazen, all of it filtered through diamond-cut prose. It's a stunning and crazy book that could only have been written by the premier lunatic of American letters. (Sept.) 
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. 

Review
“Ellroy concludes the scorching trilogy begun with 1995’s American Tabloid with a crushing bravura performance. As ever, his sentences are gems of concision . . . It’s impossible not to read Blood’s A Rover with a sense of awe . . . It’s a stunning and crazy book that could only have been written by the premier lunatic of American letters.”
Publishers Weekly (starred)

“Ellroy calls this third leg of ‘The Underworld USA Trilogy’ an historical romance, but it’s also very much a gangster novel, a political novel, a tragic-comedy, a poignant love story–and remarkably entertaining no matter how you slice it . . . You won’t easily put it down.”
Kirkus Reviews (starred) 



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Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Part I 
 
CLUSTER FUCK 
 
June 14, 1968-September 11, 1968   
 
Wayne Tedrow Jr. 
 
(Las Vegas, 6/14/68)   
 
HEROIN: He'd rigged a lab in his hotel suite. Beakers, vats and Bunsen burners filled up wall shelves. A three-burner hot plate juked small-batch conversions. He was cooking painkiller-grade product. He hadn't cooked dope since Saigon.   
 
A comp suite at the Stardust, vouchered by Carlos Marcello. Carlos knew that Janice had terminal cancer and that he had chemistry skills.   
 
Wayne mixed morphine clay with ammonia. A two-minute heating loosened mica chips and silt. He boiled water to 182°. He added acetic anhydride and reduced the bond proportions. The boil sluiced out organic waste.   
 
Precipitants next-the slow-cook process-diacetyl morph and sodium carbonate.   
 
Wayne mixed, measured and ran two hot plates low. He glanced around the suite. The maid left a newspaper out. The headlines were all him.   
 
Wayne Senior's death by "heart attack." James Earl Ray and Sirhan Sirhan in stir.   
 
His front-page ink. No mention of him. Carlos had chilled out Wayne Senior. Mr. Hoover chilled out the backwash on the King/Bobby hits.   
 
Wayne watched diacetyl mass build. His blend would semi-anesthetize Janice. He was bucking for a big job with Howard Hughes. Hughes was addicted to pharmaceutical narcotics. He could cook him up a private blend and take it to his interview.   
 
The mass settled into cubes and rose out of the liquid. Wayne saw photos of Ray and Sirhan on page two. He'd worked on the King hit. His worked it high up. Freddy Otash ran fall guy Ray for King and fall guy Sirhan for Bobby.   
 
The phone rang. Wayne grabbed it. Scrambler clicks hit the line. It had to be a Fed safe phone and Dwight Holly.   
 
"It's me, Dwight."   
 
"Did you kill him?"   
 
"Yes."   
 
" 'Heart attack,' shit. 'Sudden stroke' would have been better."   Wayne coughed. "Carlos is handling it personally. He can frost out anything around here."   
 
"I do not want Mr. Hoover going into a tizzy over this."   "It's chilled. The question is, 'What about the others?' "   
 
Dwight said, "There's always conspiracy talk. Bump off a public figure and that kind of shit tends to bubble. Freddy ran Ray covertly and Sirhan up front, but he lost weight and altered his appearance. All in all, I'd say we're chilled on both of them."   
 
Wayne watched his dope cook. Dwight spieled more news. Freddy O. bought the Golden Cavern Casino. Pete Bondurant sold it to him.   
 
"We're chilled, Dwight. Tell me we're chilled and convince me."   
 
Dwight laughed. "You sound a little raw, kid."   
 
"I'm stretched a bit thin, yeah. Patricide's funny that way."   
 
Dwight yukked. The dope pots started boiling. Wayne doused the heat and looked at his desk photo.   
 
It's Janice Lukens Tedrow, lover/ex-stepmom. It's '61. She's twisting at the Dunes. She's sans partner, she's lost a shoe, a dress seam has ripped.   
 
Dwight said, "Hey, are you there?"   
 
"I'm here."   
 
"I'm glad to hear it. And I'm glad to hear we're chilled on your end."   
 
Wayne stared at the picture. "My father was your friend. You're going in pretty light with the judgment."   
 
"Shit, kid. He sent you to Dallas."   
 
 
 
Big D. November '63. He was there that Big Weekend. He caught the Big Moment and took this Big Ride.   
 
He was a sergeant on Vegas PD. He was married. He had a chemistry degree. His father was a big Mormon fat cat. Wayne Senior was jungled up all over the nut Right. He did Klan ops for Mr. Hoover and Dwight Holly. He pushed high-line hate tracts. He rode the far-Right zeitgeist and stayed in the know. He knew about the JFK hit. It was multi-faction: Cuban exiles, rogue CIA, mob. Senior bought Junior a ticket to ride.   
 
Extradition job, with one caveat: kill the extraditee.   
 
The PD suborned the assignment. A Negro pimp named Wendell Durfee shivved a casino dealer. The man lived. It didn't matter. The Casino Operators' Council wanted Wendell clipped. Vegas cops got those jobs. They were choice gigs with big bonus money. They were tests. The PD wanted to gauge your balls. Wayne Senior had clout with the PD. He had JFK hit knowledge. Senior wanted Junior there for it. Wendell Durfee fled Vegas to Dallas. Senior doubted Junior's balls. Senior thought Junior should kill an unarmed black man. Wayne flew to Dallas on 11/22/63.   
 
He did not want to kill Wendell Durfee. He did not know about the JFK hit. He got paired up with an extradition partner. The cop's name was Maynard Moore. He worked Dallas PD. He was a redneck psycho doing gofer jobs on the hit.   
 
Wayne clashed with Maynard Moore and tried not to kill Wendell Durfee. Wayne blundered into the hit plot in post-hit free fall. He linked Jack Ruby to Moore and that right-wing merc Pete B. He saw Ruby clip Lee Harvey Oswald on live TV.   
 
He knew. He did not know that his father knew. It all went blooey that Sunday.   
 
JFK was dead. Oswald was dead. He tracked down Wendell Durfee and told him to run. Maynard Moore interceded. Wayne killed Moore and let Durfee go. Pete B. interceded and let Wayne live.   
 
Pete considered his own act of mercy prudent and Wayne's act of mercy rash. Pete warned Wayne that Wendell Durfee might show up again.   
 
Wayne returned to Vegas. Pete B. moved to Vegas for a Carlos Marcello gig. Pete followed up on Durfee and logged tips: he's a rape-o shitbird and worse. It was January '64. Pete heard that Wendell Durfee had fled back to Vegas. He told Wayne. Wayne went after Wendell. Three colored dope fiends got in the way. Wayne killed them. Wendell Durfee raped and murdered Wayne's wife, Lynette.   
 
It was his very own free fall. It started in Dallas and spun all the way up to Now.   
 
Wendell Durfee escaped. Wayne Senior and the PD worked to get Wayne a walk on the dope fiends. Mr. Hoover was amenable. Senior's old chum Dwight Holly was not. Dwight was working for the Federal Bureau of Narcotics then. The dope fiends were pushing heroin and were targeted for prosecution. Dwight squawked to the U.S. attorney. Wayne Junior fucked up his investigation. He wanted to see Wayne Junior indicted and tried. The PD fabricated some evidence and snowed the grand jury. Wayne got a walk on the killings. It left him hollow. He quit the PD and entered The Life.   
 
Soldier of fortune. Heroin runner. Assassin.   
 
Lynette was dead. He vowed to find Wendell Durfee and kill him. Lynette was his best friend and sweetheart and the wall to shut out his love for his father's second wife. Janice was older, she watched him grow up, she stayed with Senior for his money and clout. Janice returned Wayne's love. The longing went both ways. It stayed there and plain grew.   
 
Wayne fell in with Pete and his wife, Barb. Pete was tight with a mob lawyer named Ward Littell. Ward was ex-FBI and the point man for the JFK hit. He was working for Carlos Marcello and Howard Hughes and playing both ends back, front and sideways. Wayne had Pete and Ward as teachers. He learned The Life from them. He blew through their curriculum at a free-fall pace.   
 
Pete was hopped up on the Cuban exile cause. Vietnam was getting hot. Howard Hughes was nurturing crazy plans to buy up Las Vegas. Wayne Senior got in with Hughes' Mormon guard. Ward Littell developed a grudge against Senior. A rogue CIA man recruited Pete for a Saigon-to-Vegas dope funnel, profits to the Cuban cause, vouchsafed by Carlos Marcello. Pete needed a dope chemist and recruited Wayne. Ward's hatred of Wayne Senior grew. Ward fucked with Senior. He informed Wayne that his father sent him to Dallas.   
 
Wayne reeled and grabbed at air and barely stayed upright. Wayne fucked Janice in his father's house and made sure that Wayne Senior saw it.   
 
"The Life," a noun. A haven for Mormon burnouts, rogue chemists, coon killers.   
 
Wayne Senior divorced Janice. He beat her with a silver-tipped cane to offset the cost of the settlement. Janice limped from that day on and still played scratch golf. Ward Littell sold Howard Hughes Las Vegas at the mob's inflated prices and began a sporadic love affair with Janice. Wayne Senior increased his pull with Howard Hughes and sucked up to former veep Dick Nixon. Dwight Holly left the Bureau of Narcotics and went back on the FBI. Mr. Hoover directed Dwight to disrupt Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement. Dwight deployed Wayne Senior in anti-Klan mail-fraud ops, a sop to sob sisters at Justice.   
 
Wayne cooked heroin in Saigon and ran it through to Vegas. Wayne chased Wendell Durfee for four years. The country blew up with riots and a shitstorm of race hate. Dr. King trumped Mr. Hoover on all moral fronts and wore the old man down just by being. Mr. Hoover had tried everything. Mr. Hoover whined to Dwight that he had done all he could. Dwight understood the cue and recruited Wayne Senior. Wayne Senior wanted Wayne Junior to be in on it. Senior thought they needed a recruitment wedge. Dwight went out and found Wendell Durfee.   
 
Wayne got a pseudo-anonymous tip. He found Wendell Durfee on L.A. skid row and killed him in March. It was a put-up job. Dwight gathered forensic evidence and coerced him into the hit plan. Wayne worked with his father, Dwig...
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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. 


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