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Review: My Dark Places by James Ellroy

My Dark PlacesMy Dark Places by James Ellroy

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Regret is a pair of glowing red eyes that stare down at you from the corners as you fitfully fall asleep.

Murder is the dark bile that flows through your veins.

Sudden loss is the demon spirit that pulls your heart from your chest and sets it aflame.

Addiction is the midnight pitch that diminishes all it touches.

James Ellroy is a man who was predetermined to become a researcher of the inky blackness that lives within mankind. He is best known as a virtuoso of the criminal thriller, and an expert of the LA criminal justice machine; most are familiar with his book/movie L.A. Confidential. He is also painfully knowledgeable on chemical enhancements and self-destructive behavior.

Ellroy is a product of the old writing adage, “write what you know.” He is an expert on LA crime and cops, as his life fell into its path in 1958, when his mother was brutally murdered and the crime unsolved. This tragedy led to a tormented, lifelong journey to answer the haunting question the police simply could not answer. Ellroy attempted to process his thoughts and feelings through writing, but could not shake it.

Years of developing contacts within the LAPD led to a reopening of the case in 1994, leading Ellroy on a march with shadows, as he attempted to finally close the file and exorcise his demons. My Dark Places chronicles the man’s pain, offers readers intimate and revealing details about his life, and crosses difficult terrain. It’s amazingly candid, respectfully honest, and deeply insightful. It’s a punch to the gut, but if you are all familiar with his books, you will want to read this, because with it will come a true understanding of his work.

Sometimes a writer’s inspiration does not come from a muse.

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