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The Big Nowhere (L.A. Quartet #2)

4.11  ·  Rating Details ·  10,096 Ratings  ·  318 Reviews
Los Angeles, 1950 Red crosscurrents: the Commie Scare and a string of brutal mutilation killings. Gangland intrigue and Hollywood sleaze. Three cops caught in a hellish web of ambition, perversion, and deceit. Danny Upshaw is a Sheriff's deputy stuck with a bunch of snuffs nobody cares about; they're his chance to make his name as a cop...and to sate his darkest curiositie ...more
Published January 1st 2013 by Grand Central Publishing (first published September 1st 1988)
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(showing 1-30)
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Jeffrey Keeten
"It was written that I should be loyal to the nightmare of my choice.” Joseph Conrad Heart of Darkness.

Newspapers labelled the death of José Gallardo Diaz the Sleepy Lagoon Murder because his unconscious body was found near a local swimming hole. The police arrested 17 Hispanic males for the “murder” even though they had no evidence that a murder had occurred. Diaz was inebriated and eventually died from a fracture at the base of the skull. No one was able to determine exactly how the fracture o
Dan Schwent
Dec 04, 2015 Dan Schwent rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016, 2016-books
In the midst of the Red Scare, a violated corpse with its eyes gouged out is found and young deputy detective Danny Upshaw catches the case. Meanwhile, Mal Considine is put in charge of rooting out communists in the UAES. Attached to his team are Dudley Smith, a veteran cop with a mean streak a mile wide, and Buzz Meeks, the dirtiest cop in town and the man whom his first wife had an affair with while he was fighting Germans in WWII...

Here we are, the second book in James Ellroy's multi-volume t
Can you dig this, hepcat?

It’s January 1, 1950 in Los Angeles. A witch hunt for commies in the movie industry is gearing up under the guise of patriotism, but its real agenda is to make the careers of the ruthless men running it and help the studios keep labor costs down. Corruption scandals have created a lot of bad blood between the city cops and the county sheriff’s department. Rival gangsters Jack Dragna and Mickey Cohen are fighting for control of the town. Everybody is too busy with their o
Oct 24, 2012 Jeff rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This isn’t your Grandpa’s noir.

James Ellroy is a man so ornery he threatened to strangle Kemper with his lower intestines. Ellroy transforms Noir the hard way:

He snuck up on it in a urine soaked alley outside a sleazy Sunset Strip dive, coldcocked it with a lead pipe, stuffed it in a trunk with rabid chinchillas, drove it to an abandoned warehouse somewhere in beautiful downtown Burbank, strung it up with chains, injected it with heroin, attached electrodes to its ears, jolted it with 1000 volts
Paul Bryant

Nasty cops
Nasty communists aka red scum
Nasty gay men aka queers, faggots, etc
Nasty black people aka spooks, smokes, etc
Nasty women
Nasty mobsters
Nasty Jews who are also often nasty commies and faggots
Nasty Mexicans
Nasty wives
Nasty smackheads
Nasty sex
Nasty language
Nasty lives
Oh and also nasty dogs
If you can’t take the special oxyacetylene James Ellroy heat you better get out of the James Ellroy kitchen of hell so that’s what I’m doing, skedaddling back to wimpsville to bathe my throbbing brow and
Richard Vialet
Communist witchhunts. B-movie studio westerns. South Central jazz. Hollywood labor union strikes. Mickey Cohen and his feud with Jack Dragna. Queer sex orgies at the Chateau Marmont. Howard Hughes and his penchant for underage girls and crashing airplanes. Friction between the LAPD and the LA County Sheriffs. The Sleepy Lagoon murder and the Zoot Suit Riots. And a sick serial killer that disembowels his homosexual victims by biting into them with animal teeth.

This loaded novel is about all that
Apr 08, 2015 KOHEY.Y. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: home-library
Here is a world where there just exists a category of being good or bad,you being on this side or that,with human nature,naked and lurking beneath,feeding on each other and bleeding you out.
“Stay true to yourself,goddamnit,but with dire consequences”seems more of an apt phrase than that corny “survival of the fittest”in Ellroy’s world.
A body is found near a local swimming hole and the brutality of the murder is frightening. Deputy Danny Upshaw is charged with finding the perp and closing the case. When it’s discovered the victim was gay, Ellroy brings the reader into the homophobic culture of 1950s Los Angeles while pushing Upshaw to his limit in his drive to tag the guilty party.

Elsewhere, both Mal Considine and Buzz Meeks become entwined in the communist red scare. Mal is using it to his advantage in an attempt to advance h
Oct 04, 2013 Darwin8u rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
“It all came down to money - the great equalizer and common denominator.”
― James Ellroy, The Big Nowhere


Probably 4.5 stars. I'm leaving room, saving stars, minding the gap, because I KNOW this isn't Elroy's best. Still, it is a novel that if written by any other living crime writer it might be considered their masterpiece and this is only 2nd shelf Ellroy. Chew on that. This is the 2nd book in Ellroy's LA Quartet Series (Starts with The Black Dahlia and includes this, L.A. Confidential, and Whi
Los Angeles, 1950 Red crosscurrents: the Commie Scare and a string of brutal mutilation killings. Gangland intrigue and Hollywood sleaze. Three cops caught in a hellish web of ambition, perversion, and deceit. Danny Upshaw is a Sheriff's deputy stuck with a bunch of snuffs nobody cares about; they're his chance to make his name as a cop... and to sate his darkest curiosities. Mal Considine is D.A.'s Bureau brass. He's climbing on the Red Scare bandwagon to advance his career and to gain custody ...more
Geza Tatrallyay
While this is an okay detective yarn, I found the plethora of characters overwhelming and the language dated and very macho, and in today's terms, rather lacking political correctness. There is just too much going on in the book and the somewhat dated language and expressions makes you less keen on reading further.
Aug 20, 2008 Andy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: mondo hollywood wolves
Shelves: hardboiled-dicks
The best Ellroy book, hands down. Better than "Black Dahlia". Picture a fun house-mirrored Hollywood where a psycho killer tears his victims apart wearing dentures made of wolverine fangs, a closet queen vice cop investigating Communist sympathizer movie stars, and a cop who wants to smuggle his kid through Iron Curtain-era Europe during the Redder than Red Communist 1950's. The roller coaster ride of the Big Nowhere lasts for 400+ pages and has no brakes, so hold on tight!
Apr 18, 2015 Sandra rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: usa, noir
C’è tanto di tutto nei romanzi di Ellroy, ed in questo in particolare: tanta tensione razziale, linfa nel sangue americano soprattutto di una L.A. vicinissima al confine messicano; c’è tanta ossessione sessuale, omo ed etero, da arrivare a pervertiti di ogni genere, ad incesti e psicosi oltre ogni fantasia di un lettore “normale”; c’è tanta criminalità, dal tossicodipendente dedito ai furti al pervertito omicida all’uomo di fiducia del gangster ai killer prezzolati fino al macrocriminale usuraio ...more
Jul 15, 2008 M rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This dark, mean, nasty-hearted book had me forgetting to sleep, nearly getting in trouble for forgetting to come back from lunch hour, etc. Definitely this quartet is the best hard-boiled stuff I know since the Chandler/Hammett/Cain era. But it's also doing something different from those guys, something post-Chinatown: all the narrative balls flying in the air are a way of trying to give you this ultra-broad, kaleidoscopic perspective on the deep and ugly things that are creating '50s Los Angele ...more
This is not only a great crime novel, it's a really good novel period. There are basically two story lines. One follows a series of murders in L.A., while the other involves the Communist scare in Hollywood.

As this book is all plot, it's hard to say much about it without giving anything away. Suffice it to say that's it's pretty heavy going and definitely not for the squeamish, as the murders involved are among the most graphically horrific I've ever encountered.

That being said, it's a very engr
The Big Nowhere follows The Black Dahlia in Ellroy's L.A. Quartet. Is the genre "crime opera" a thing? 'Cause it should be. Space gets one, why not crime? Anyways, if crime opera is a thing then this is a classic example of it. The scope has widened in this second entry to the L.A. Quartet on multiple levels; we have three POV characters and an omniscient perspective as opposed to the single first person POV of the first book, the single main story thread being replaced by two in this volume and ...more
The Big Nowhere is two separate tales eventually twisted together into one; an LA Sheriff’s Deputy tries to capture a brutal sex murderer while serving as a decoy to expose communism in Hollywood. Gangland intrigue and Hollywood sleaze, young deputy Danny Upshaw along with Buzz Meeks and Mal Considine find themselves caught in a hellish web of ambition, perversion, and deceit.

Like the other books in the L.A. Quartet, and other James Ellroy books for that fact, The Big Nowhere twists a story arou
Ben Loory
i'm more interested in psychopaths than communists, so the more historical-sociological parts of this 500-page book kinda bored me. i can see how people might see this as ellroy moving into more "important" areas of interest, but as far as i can tell it's all just a bunch of window-dressing for the wolverine-obsessed psychopath angle anyway; it's not like the book sheds any light on politics or economics or anything like that (or even tries to). the world is a shitty place and people do their be ...more
Mark Desrosiers
Mar 28, 2010 Mark Desrosiers rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
It's 1950 in L.A., and we enter the whirlwind: some sicko is murdering queers by sucking out their entrails and deflowering their eye sockets. Meanwhile a trio of cops (two dirty, one so clean he knocked out his wife's teeth in a principled rage) are off on a mission to destroy communist influence in Hollywood. The mission gets bumbled, then intersected to the wolverine killer with a taste for human intestines, and all hell breaks loose.

I'm still numb from finishing this -- Ellroy ain't afraid
Nov 10, 2011 Tfitoby rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: black-as-night
Early Ellroy, prior to his discovery of removing every unnecessary word as his successful writing style, moves slow and feels bloated. An interesting little tale that suffers in comparison to what would come next but is still dark and brutal and typical of his worldview. I really just wanted it to be over asap however.
Apr 07, 2015 Leonard rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Deputy Danny Upshaw investigates a brutal sex crime and hunts the gay middle-aged killer, not knowing that from the beginning he’s been led to implicate the wrong man. So he could lead the investigation, he agrees to infiltrate a labor union, search out communists and uncover their “un-American activities.” But all he cares about is to find out why a killer was mutilating other gay men.

Zoot Suits
Zoot Suits

Lieutenant Mal Considine, on the other hand, agrees to work with power-hungry prosecutors, corrupted
Krok Zero
Jul 26, 2009 Krok Zero rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: summer-2009
Less satisfying than The Black Dahlia but more ambitious, at least narratively — I think my slight disappointment stems from a lack of the emotionalism that was so prominent in Dahlia. This one puts politics on the table and spins a way more complex (some would say convoluted, but it does make sense ultimately) narrative web, but it feels less personal somehow. On the other hand it's an absolutely spellbinding piece of storytelling. And it's not that it's unmoving — it certainly has elements of ...more
Benoit Lelièvre
There is nothing in the world like reading a James Ellroy novel. I've been meaning to finish the first L.A Quartet for several years now, and I am proud to say that it is done. THE BIG NOWHERE probably is the bleakest novel collection. The bebop era themes are still present, but it's lost inside the sprawling, Machiavellian labyrinth of paranoid post-war America. THE BIG NOWHERE is not only dark by James Ellroy's standards, it's just an extremely dark novel period. I usually don't care about era ...more
Ellroy crossbreeds the detective novel, historical, and gothic horror; so we get an analysis of the impulses and pathology behind historical events and figures, a Boschian canvas of human depravity, a crackerjack plot, and three unlovable but compelling protagonists living on the edge. The plot involves Red Scare intrigue (and its connection to Hollywood greed) and very disturbing serial killer. Also features Howard Hughes, Mickey Cohen, bestiality, teamsters, wolverines, necrophilia, heroin, bl ...more
Jan 05, 2017 Antonis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: e-books
Το βιβλίο ξεκινά αργά, νωχελικά, με δυόμιση βασικές πλοκές και τρεις βασικούς χαρακτήρες, μπάτσους διαφορετικού τύπου και βαθμίδων, σαν ένα τζαζ κομμάτι, από αυτά που ακούγονται θαρρείς διαρκώς σε όλο το βιβλίο· ένα τζαζ κομμάτι που τεστάρει τους ακροατές του για να κρατήσει μόνο όσους πραγματικά θέλουν να το ξεκλειδώσουν. 1950, Λος Άντζελες, Χόλιγουντ, μακαρθισμός, τζαζ κουλτούρα, εργατικό κίνημα, διαφθορά, μαφία, ομοφυλοφιλία, μεταπολεμικά τραύματα, βία, έρωτας, θάνατος, όλα αυτά μπλέκονται κα ...more
Jul 15, 2016 Lauren rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical, crime, mystery
It was written I should be loyal to the nightmare of my choice.

Meet Mal Considine, Danny Upshaw, and Buzz Meeks, three men whose nightmares will soon collide. Mal is a reasonably upstanding and likable rising star, provided you can ignore the swirling rumors that he put a hit out on his ex-wife's lover, murdered a man during the war, and is currently engaged in a particularly seething custody battle over his stepson. Deputy Danny Upshaw works for County, and he's an ambitious, intelligent go-g
Biju Bhaskar
Apr 15, 2013 Biju Bhaskar rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime, historical
I had read reviews that hyped up James Ellroy as an extraordinary writer of crime fiction. As I struggled through halfway of 'The Big Nowhere', I thought that I was a victim of sales blurbs on book jackets. But perserverance paid off, and it is in the later third of 'The Big Nowhere', I was sucked right into the narration and could only marvel at the way Ellroy tied up disparate threads together. The author has created three characters Danny Upshaw, Turner 'Buzz' Meeks and Mal Considine, who wil ...more
Fenia Vazaka
Πολλή εγκληματικότητα, πολλή διαφθορά, πολύ αίμα, πολλές αποτρόπαιες περιγραφές που θυμίζουν ιατροδικαστική εξέταση, πολλοί χαρακτήρες (επιφανειακοί πάντα...), πολλές ιστορίες (που ενώνονται λίγο ανορθόδοξα μεταξύ τους), πολλή υπερβολή, πολλές αχρείαστες σελίδες που κουράζουν τον αναγνώστη, πολύ τραβηγμένο σενάριο και, γενικά, πολύ κακό για το τίποτα...
Δεν αφήνει την δράση να εξελιχθεί και την αγωνία να κορυφωθεί, πολλές σκηνές τελειώνουν πολύ απότομα και άδοξα. Ο αναγνώστης δεν ταυτίζεται με κα
Lee Battersby
Feb 23, 2012 Lee Battersby rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Vintage Ellroy, with non-stop attitude, nastiness and above all, voice. This hits a lot harder on the malignancy scale than many of his other books-- it's unrelenting, and brutal, and absolutely nobody comes out of it looking like anything other than shit, but that's part of what makes Ellroy compelling: the hope, usually forlorn, that something good might come out of the almighty clusterfucks that characters drag themselves into.

It's by no means a perfect book, and certainly not as assured or p
Steven  Godin
Probably my favorite of the L.A Quartet, and this happened to be the first Ellroy novel I experienced, what can I say?, this had everything you would want from a piece of tough crime fiction, great set of characters, a complex plot that had complex side plots, the L.A setting was used to perfection, in places brutal, wholly gripping and with a last third that was as tense and page turning as you could ever get!. Ellroy is such a master of his craft, I don't think anyone can top him in terms of h ...more
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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 ...more
More about James Ellroy...

Other Books in the Series

L.A. Quartet (4 books)
  • The Black Dahlia (L.A. Quartet, #1)
  • L.A. Confidential (L.A. Quartet, #3)
  • White Jazz (L.A. Quartet, #4)

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“Call me Dudley. We're of equal rank. I'm older, but you're far better looking. I can tell we're going to be grand partners.” 7 likes
“It all came down to money - the great equalizer and common denominator.” 6 likes
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