This Storm

Written by James Ellroy
Review by Mike Ashworth

This Storm is set in the wake of Pearl Harbour in 1941. Los Angeles reels behind the shock of the attack on Pearl Harbour, local Japanese are rounded up and interned, massive thunderstorms hit the city, and a body is unearthed in Griffith Park. The local police have it down as routine – just another murder, but they are wrong; it is a warning of chaos to come. There’s a murderous fire and a gold heist. There are fifth-column treason, home-grown Nazis, communists, rogue cops and race racketeers: a frenetic mix of intrigue, corruption, racism and murder.

The novel is the second volume in a promised series of books that act as prequels to the first LA Quartet, and features many of the characters from that series. There are a dozen or more main characters, and at least three main stories that dovetail at the end. The characters vary from the cynical to the grotesque, challenging the readers’ perceptions. The use of the vernacular of the period brings an immediacy to the story, immersing the reader in the life and culture of the city, while various real-life figures such as Barbara Stanwyck and Orson Wells make cameo appearances, adding to the overall effect. This is “LA Noir” at its best. For fans of James Ellroy everywhere.