Tyler's Reviews > Blood on the Moon

Blood on the Moon by James Ellroy
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's review
Jul 28, 2011

really liked it
Read in July, 2011

An early James Ellroy novel but all the usually Ellroy elements are there. In his
early novels are based in modern(80's) L.A. instead of a past although that does not
manifest in any obvious changes from his other novels based in the 50's and 60's.
This novel is different from his later L.A. Quartet and short stories because besides being a police procedural from the cop's voice, it also gives the serial killer's POV.
I'm not a fan of this type of serial killer POV storytelling. It can rarely give the reader
any other insights of the killer other than showing over and over that the killer is crazy. It all become redundant after a few passages.
Apparently Ellroy was one of the first modern writers to write with the goal of fully displaying the serial killer's inner world.
I know he later regretted helping to kick off this trend of serial killer writing.
Thomas Harris being the only other contemporary novelist of that time I can think of who does this.
Since Ellroy is one of my favorite authors and he was one of the first, I'll let him pass.
It is sad how little this type of writing has evolved since the early 80's. The serial killer passages here are crazed and frenetic like all of Ellroy's main characters.
I enjoyed them but again stopped caring about the character's mental world toward the end.
Lloyd Hopkins is the detective on the case and is the character whose passages I loved reading.
He's a genius of course and his tracking down of the main case and other side-investigations are nicely done.
Lloyd's life is complicated and a little odd. His battle to preserve innocence is a nice insight into his character and also other characters in Ellroy's universe.
Lloyd and the women in his life all seem to live inside their head, battling demons constantly.
The psychological aspects of the characters are interesting, Lloyd and one of the heroine's are looking for a pure "white light".
It all gets a little too esoteric for me. Maybe because most of the charcters are poets Ellroy pushes the pretentious nature of their thoughts.
Even though I don't connect with the characters, they are well-written and come across as real people.
I would probably not enjoy spending time with these people, way too much drama.

Above anything else, following Lloyd track down the killer is the part of the book that was most involving.
The investigation is interesting and detailed but with none of the horrible FBI profiler or forensic junk of today's serial killer novels. Breaking in to apartments and homes and the use of bugs are recurring features of Ellroy's novels and are used often by Lloyd and the killer. There are a couple of random coincidences but I think those make sense with the logic of the story. Lloyd and the killer are similar and that is main key to Lloyd's actions, which helps him to track down the killer. The story climaxes for me when he discovers the killer's identity, then it seems lose its direction in the last 15 pages. The ending is well-done but it just didn't seem to do justice to the build up.

I enjoyed this novel but that doesn't mean it was a fun time.
This is not an escapist entertainment type of novel. It is too seedy and nasty for you to truly put a smile on your face, even more so than a gory horror novel.
It's an intense book and following along with the investigation and partially with the killer kept me gripped throughout.

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