Read as part of CBR10Bingo: Almost award winner. Perfidia was nominated for the 2015 Folio Prize but did not win.
It speaks to the times we live in that the depth of my cynicism has allowed me to appreciate James Ellroy novels in a way I never could before this summer. This is the second book of his I’ve read the last few months and it’s one of the best things I read in 2018.
It could also be that this one is slightly better than the others I’ve read. Whereas I usually can’t stand the crass dialogue and doctrinal amorality of his characters, Perfidia is more realized than the other Ellroy novels I’ve read. Hideo Ashida is a compelling character; a police med-tech who happens to be ethnically Japanese just as Pearl Harbor happens. Some of the other characters are more fully realized than I’ve read in other Ellroy novels, including his version of the real-life William Parker and Kay Lake (though I don’t think any 21-year old talks the way she does in her diary).
The mystery itself is interesting enough but its merely the spine from which Ellroy builds his expanded universe en route to starting his second LA Quartet. Some subplots work better than others. I didn’t need the shoehorning of other characters from other novels in this one. I suppose it may pay off in the next three books but it slowed this one down. Also, the grander conspiracy itself was thin.
Nevertheless, the book has enough steam to carry the reader through almost 700 pages, even if it drags in spots. I’m excited to read the sequel and am at long last finally on the Ellroy bandwagon.