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(Second L.A. Quartet #1)

3.64  ·  Rating details ·  4,213 ratings  ·  623 reviews
The Japanese have bombed Pearl Harbor. The United States teeters on the edge of war. The roundup of allegedly treasonous Japanese Americans is about to begin. And in L.A., a Japanese family is found dead. Murder or ritual suicide? The investigation will draw four people into a totally Ellroy-ian tangle: a brilliant Japanese American forensic chemist; an unsatisfiably adven ...more
Hardcover, 720 pages
Published September 9th 2014 by Knopf
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Start your review of Perfidia (Second L.A. Quartet #1)
“Hello, Mr. Ellroy.”

“Mr. Kemper, I hear that you are somewhat familiar with me?”

“I am.”

“Please tell me what you know. Be succinct.”

“You are haunted by the unsolved murder of your mother which occurred when you were a child and led you to become obsessed with crime and women. You frequently dreamed of scenarios in which you could save damsels in distress. You let your rich fantasy life rule you and with no ambition or discipline you became a homeless drunk and drug addict in your teens. You event
Jun 22, 2014 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Diehard Ellroy fans, all else beware
Recommended to Cassy by: Curiosity about both this big name author & the fear of Japs in America during WWII

I loathe vacuuming. It is outranked in its futility and annoyance only by laundry. Thus, I read and read while my house becomes dirtier and dirtier. Until Perfidia. That fateful afternoon, when I put down Perfidia - unable to force myself to read any longer - and did the unthinkable.

I start with the staircase, which is the easiest and most gratifying part of the house to vacuum given its hardwood floors and lack of obstacles. Begone powdery dirt and mud clumps! I reach the top of the
Jun 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I would think that since James Ellroy is one of my favorite living novelists that I’d check every now and then to see if a new book is in the works. Nope. I think I treat all my favorites as Pynchon’s, new books may come out at some point but they will be rare like unicorns so it’s not worth poking around to see if you can find one (and this would be a sad way to find unicorns because you’re guaranteed to probably never find on if you never look).

But my lack of awareness paid off nicely when af
Jul 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
awesome. just... awesome.
one of the best portraits of obsession in all of fiction.
one of those books that just tractor beams the reader, grinds her up, and shits her out.

blast me forth from your rectum, mr. ellroy!
gobble me whole and crap me out!
do it do it do it!

it's awe-inspiring what ellroy does here: grabs tons of characters from his First LA Quartet* (perfidia is book one of the Second LA Quartet) and Underworld USA Trilogy** and throws 'em into his most densely plotted and highly char
Anthony Vacca
Jun 05, 2014 rated it liked it
When it comes to crime fiction I cut my teeth, hell, I fractured my fucking jaw on James Ellroy's LA Quartet. And as far as I am concerned, many imitate the man's style but this particular king is in no danger of being dethroned in this lifetime. Every handful of years or so, when a new backbreaker by Ellroy struts onto the bookstore shelf, I'm one of the first suckers clawing my way through the pages. I'll go on the record and say that, since Ellroy wrote The Black Dahlia and began his long tas ...more
Blaine DeSantis
May 07, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Where do I even begin to start?? Most all of us have heard of James Ellroy, but I must admit that I was only familiar with his work by reputation and from the movie LA Confidential. I have purchased his books but never read one until I decided to start this. It grabs you from the beginning and I am amazed at the intricate plot and wonder how he can keep everything in order. It is hard enough for the reader to keep up with all, let alone the author. I enjoyed the book, although I felt it easily c ...more
Roman Clodia
Big, bold and uncompromising, if you haven’t read Ellroy before this probably isn’t a good place to start. His 'house style', unique, eclectic, perhaps even eccentric, full of police and other slang which he never deigns to explain, is on full display here and we just have to plunge ourselves into his corrupt and tainted world and find our way as best we can. Ellroy is an uncompromising writer: we either accept his world on his terms or we get out. All the same, there are places where the clippe ...more
Jul 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I have so few auto-buy authors these days. I used to have many, but one by one I drop them when the stories turn predictable and the writing stale. One actually died, but anyway...

Ellroy is heavy reading, and his dirty staccato style is what makes the scenery come alive. If you've glommed the rest of his catalog you know several players here - Perfidia is a prequel of sorts to his other series. It begins just before the attack on Pearl Harbor with the murder of a Japanese family in LA. Throughou
Apr 01, 2015 rated it liked it
I guess when the notion of shared ownership was developed for the movies – so that the various Marvel superheroes movies and forthcoming Star Wars films all share characters and plots – James Ellroy was one of the lucky recipients of the original memo. As here we have the first of a new series of crime novels which link directly into his L.A Quartet and The Underworld USA Trilogy (and I will personally be disappointed if there aren’t references to his much less well regarded Lloyd Hopkins trilog ...more
Sep 16, 2014 rated it it was ok
Before I get into it all allow me to make a few statements for context; I have read every one of Elloy's novels. My first exposure came in the form of his short story "High Darktown" which introduced me to "The Black Dahlia" protagonist Officer Lee Blanchard and his obsessions and demons. I was hooked. I devoured every word the man wrote before and since. My favorite piece is still "White Jazz"-the last of the LA Quartet and a sizzling piece of literature that still speaks to me in both style an ...more
Magdalena aka A Bookaholic Swede
DNF at 45 %!

A couple of years ago I studied theology and some books I read was good and some books were bloody awful and almost impossible to get through. But one had to. But this one I don't have to finish so now I'm throwing in the towel, saying adiós amigo...Hasta la vista baby!

Ps. I will read Black Dahlia someday, hopefully, that book will be better!

Thank you Netgalley for providing me with a free copy for an honest review!
Philippe Malzieu
Jul 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
Did Ellroy find the peace ? In all his précédents books, ther was a kind of fury, a rage. He vas haunted by the unpunished murder of his mother. The black daliha was the cristalization of his neurosis.
Here Ellroy work as usual. He spendt a long time in the LA Library searching old news in archiv. This informations allow him to write his books.
The subject is largely unknown and a little exotic. It is about the position of american people Japanese origin at the begining of WWII : murder, vexation.
Aug 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This roller coaster of a novel takes four central characters from the 6th through to the 29th December, 1941. They all revolve around the LAPD and include two antagonistic Catholic officers; William H. Parker, who is ambitious and wants to be the next Chief of Police and the corrupt Dudley Smith, forensic scientist Hideo Ashida, the only Japanese person employed by the LAPD and Kay Lake, who lives with officer Lee Blanchard and whose life, and interests, seem to orbit around the police force.

Sep 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read_2015, own, favorites
A crime fiction epic set amid the backdrop of Peal Harbor, PERFIDIA, is densely rich in characterisation and bedded down with intrinsically linked sub plots that can, at times, be off-putting but ultimately rewarding.

The first book in the Second LA Quartet, PERFIDIA reads familiar for those who have read James Ellroy's previous novels. Characters such as Kay Lake, Lee Blanchard, and Bucky Bleichert are re-imaged as their younger counterparts embroiled in a sinister sleep deprived state of uncer
William Johnson
You ever see those bumper stickers on the back of Jeeps or Land Rovers showing the world (or any of us frustrated dads-who-are-late-to-pick-up-the-kids who happen to be stuck behind them) that they completed a treacherous, horrifyingly demanding physical trial called Ragnarok or Tough Mudder or Soul Carver or something?

I think I need one of those bumper stickers that says Perfidia 2014 or 'I survived Perfidia 2014' or 'It took seven months but I finished Perfidia god damn it'. I don't mean this
Jun 20, 2020 rated it liked it
It is funny how time has a way of changing us even as we do not notice any difference. Crime author, James Ellroy has been hands down one of my most favorite writers of all time. I devoured his books like a Frenchman devours odd-smelling cheeses. But after finishing his two most recent novels, Perfidia and This Storm, I am given pause. They seem underwhelming. Has Ellroy lost a step? Were his novels (such as the acclaimed L.A. Confidential) never that special to begin with? Or is it me? Have I c ...more
Carol Storm
Jul 07, 2015 rated it it was ok
I have to give this book two stars because THE BLACK DAHLIA and LA CONFIDENTIAL are the best crime novels ever written. James Ellroy is my hero and always will be, no matter how much he's gone down hill since then.

But if those two books were STICKY FINGERS and EXILE ON MAIN STREET, PERFIDIA isn't even GOAT'S HEAD SOUP.

I don't even know where to begin with this review. Hundreds upon hundreds of things that just didn't ring true, weirdly clueless dialogue, insanely implausible plot points, chara
Dec 08, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
James Ellroy you master craftsman, you devil with details.
Dennis Lehane in his review said “Ellroy’s prose style had transformed into a staccato bebop” and i agree.
He can give it to you in rat a tat formation with short, sharp, shock, prose, and then he gives it to you elegant, with the narrative of one female protagonist in chapters that are from her journal on all that devil in the details.
Characters at odds with each other, race troubles, pearl harbour in the backdrop, its all happening in th
Peter Kavanagh
Jul 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
Another immersion in the dark, conspiratorial imagination of Ellroy. A fever dream of typically epic proportions. Dudley Smith is one of the most evil and mesmerising characters in literature.
Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.)
I have read James Ellroy's novels pretty much ever since he began writing them, and they are all very, very good. And some are stunningly good reads, and Perfidia is just such a novel. In all fairness, I think just a bit of my bias for this determination is associated with the fact that I have encountered most of the characters in this novel in his previous novels. Having said that though, this novel 'carries its own freight,' and is a stand-alone plot in its own right. It does provide a ton of ...more
Ronald Koltnow
Apr 19, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
To be published by Alfred A.Knopf in September 2014. This review is based on a partially unedited manuscript.

Perfidia by Alberto Dominguez (English lyrics by Milton Leeds)
"With a sad lament my dreams are faded like a broken melody
While the gods of love look down and laugh
At what romantic fools we mortals be"

"Perfidia" is a popular song from the 40s and its lyrics about faithlessness in love fit this Ellroy yarn of the weeks after the attack on Pearl Harbor to a sweaty T. The first in a projecte
Benoit Lelièvre
Dec 17, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There are things about that book that I loved and there are other things about it that irked the crap out of me. That's the kind of novel PERFIDIA is, it's both the most ambitious and oddly pertinent novel that James Ellroy's ever written, but it's also its most self-indulgent. Too many characters, too many coming back (it's like a reunion novel, really) and the Hollywood angle turns into a boring, name-dropping session of perverts anonymous quite fast,


Because there's a BUT. I loved PERFIDIA
Oct 06, 2019 rated it it was ok
I survived the audio version of this plodding novel. Did you?

MY GRADE: C to C plus.
Highly stylistic, uber-violent, historical, espionage/crime story with an immersive atmosphere centered on Los Angeles on the eve and aftermath of the Pearl Harbor attack. Two morally and otherwise corrupt policemen vie for power within a corrupt Los Angeles Police Dept (LAPD).

Firstly, this was the first novel in the author’s 1st L.A. Quartet, which precedes the original, but now 2nd L.A. Quartet . (Confusing enough?) In retrospect, reading the earlier written books of the 2nd L.A. Quartet cuts
Sep 10, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: e-book, kindle, fiction
Actual rating: 2.5 stars.

I have a hard time getting into Ellroy novels. His writing reads like a string of staccato gossip rag headlines: brusque, abbreviated, slangy, Granted the slang is period-correct, it comes across as contrived and phony. No one talks like that; I'll go out on a limb and say that no cop, in any historical era, ever uttered the word "jejune."

So it's always a rough start. Then, three or four chapters in, Ellroy's stories take off and I forget to be irritated with the stilted
Perfidia is a wild, beast of a book. I'm a huge fan of James Ellroy, especially his LA books. Ellroy works best when he's let loose on the scene of downtown LA, with the scumbags and the scarlet women.

This book deals with a fascinating and not often discussed period of American history - the impact of Pearl Harbour in cities and the US continent. Ellroy contrasts the inherent racism of the time with the main character, Hideo Ashida, a forensics investigator whose increasing motivation is self-p
Dec 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
my second favorite book of all time. i've never read character work like ellroy's, and i doubt i will in the future. this review used to be all my notes and annotations but that was too much by anyone's standards so i've gotten rid of it.

anyway, i haven't had a single objective thought about ellroy books since i read this, so i don't know if my opinion will do you any good, but - if his style works for you, it really works. if that's the case, go read this and come talk to me about it.
Daniel Sevitt
Oct 11, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
You can never replicate the breathtaking gutpunch of American Tabloid or The Black Dahlia which I read almost 20 years ago, but this is a fine start to Ellroy's latest (last?) quartet. Dudley Smith is front and centre banging Bette Davis, cracking heads and popping bennies. All backed up by the greatest wink in literature. So much fun, it'll be hard to go back to reading other books. ...more
Jim B
I didn't know James Ellroy when I started Perfidia ; I thought I'd stumbled on an author that was not well known. I was eager to tell a couple of GoodReads friends who enjoy noir detective books about my discovery. Now all I can say is after you read Perfidia , you will see how flat all the other noir detective books are.

This book happened to touch several of my personal interests / experiences, so I was interested on another level. It appears to me now that I've finished the book that Jam
Andrew Nette
Sep 26, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: crime
I need to preface my comments on Perfidia by stressing I am a massive Ellroy fan. I have read all of his books – ALL of them – many more than once. I even liked The Cold Six Thousand and Blood’s A Rover, the two books that most divided readers. So, it is with a heavy heart that I say Perfidia is very disappointing. The long awaited prelude to Ellroy’s LA Quintet, Perfidia takes place in Los Angeles over 23 days in December 1941, a period in which American went from being at piece to the attack o ...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

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