James Ellroy’s Current Projects

After bursting into American mainstream literature with The Black Dahlia in 1987, James Ellroy has continued to consistently publish successful novels as well as collections of short stories, essays, memoirs, and other writings. His most current and widely knowthn project is his Second L.A. Quartet. In an interview with ShortList, Ellroy noted that the Second L.A. Quartet would take characters from both the first L.A. Quartet and the Underworld USA Trilogy and place them in Los Angeles during World War Two, essentially creating prequels to the two series.

Ellroy published the first novel, Perfidia, in 2014 and plunges the reader headfirst into Los Angeles during the immediate aftermath of the attack on Pearl Harbor. The novel features four main characters – William H. Parker, a gifted and overly ambitious LAPD caption with dubious ideology; Dudley Smith, an LAPD sergeant and Irish immigrant standing at odds with his captain; Hideo Ashida, a police chemist and the only Japanese person on the LAPD payroll; and Kay Lake, a young woman searching for adventure. High drama ensues as the characters investigate the brutal murder of a Japanese family, illuminating alliances and tensions among them.

Recent Publications and Features

In addition to the Second L.A. Quartet, Ellroy has also published a number of short stories, and writers from many major publications continue to interview him and feature his work in their articles. In 2015, Ellroy published LAPD ’53, a collection of his writings about the LAPD during that time period that features archived photographs from the Los Angeles Police Museum. More recently, Vanity Fair published his short story, “Buzz M for Murder,” in their November 2017 issue. In “Buzz M for Murder,” Ellroy resurrects the brutal 1963 murders of two “career girls” in New York City. As his volumes of short works suggest, Ellroy continues to create short pieces of fiction and non-fiction alongside his major novel projects.

Journalists also express their fascination with Ellroy and his work in a number of articles that reference his work. In a February 2016 article discussing writers’ fascination with the JFK assassination, Jeremy Egner naturally mentions Ellroy’s American Tabloid, which focuses on dark, behind-the-scenes operators that plotted to take down JFK. Additionally, thanks to Ellroy’s penchant for harsh language, The Atlantic featured him in an article exploring the literary use of the word “s***hole” after President Trump’s use of the term to describe certain countries. Ellroy’s work is also widely known overseas. In Scotland, crime writer Alan Parks has openly proclaimed that he one day hopes to be the James Ellroy of Glasgow. However, Ellroy’s popularity extends even as far as China. The South China Morning Post published an article in October 2017 about the best books about the JFK assassination, and naturally, the article featured Ellroy’s work. Journalists’ preoccupation with Ellroy’s work – especially in regard to the JFK assassination – demonstrate his massive cultural and literary influence on writing in the western world and beyond.