Because the Night

Narrated by: L. J. Ganser
Length: 9 hrs and 52 mins
3.5 out of 5 stars (21 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Three citizens are butchered during a liquor store holdup. An unstable veteran cop vanishes without a trace. Nothing connects these events except for a nagging hunch in the back of Detective Sergeant Lloyd Hopkins' brain--a sinister foreboding that will lead him through the sin-and-sleaze playground of nighttime L.A. on the trail of a psycho psychiatrist with a talent for terror and mind-control. His gore-soaked journey through Hell will plunge this determined manhunter into the dark heart of madness--and beyond.

©1984 James Ellroy (P)2010 Audio Go

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

A rough draft for better Noir that will come

"Guys with our kind of juice should f-up once in a while out of noblesse oblige."
- James Ellroy, Because the Night

Book 2 in Ellroy's L.A. Noir trilogy (or Lloyd Hopkins Trilogy). In this book Sgt Hopkins is trying to figure out a bizarre killing AND the disappearance of an exceptional undercover cop. It all leads to a Timothy Leary/Charles Manson mashup whose band of rich misfits isn't Ellroy's best. The psychiatrist trope appears better developed in later Ellroy novels. Like the previous book in the series, this book seems like a rough draft for better Noir that will come in his next series. Ellroy is growing, but it is difficult to call this book a finished product at this point. Ellroy, at this stage, hasn't learned that the crazier the characters, the more believable the premise has to be.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Still stupid, but somehow less obnoxiously?

The big thing about the Lloyd Hopkins Trilogy that distinguishes it from the LA Quartet is that you can actually get everything just from listening to the audiobook. Maybe this is my ADHD talking, but there are huge stretches of dialogue and action in the Quartet, particularly White Jazz, that would have been incomprehensible to me without the text as a reference. That's not even getting into the stories, which are labyrinthine and Gothic in ways you either know and love or know and do not love.
I'm frankly curious how many women and people of color fall into the former category, because Ellroy is rigorously true to the racist, misogynistic setting and subject matter (LA law enforcement in the mid to late 20th century.)

I liked Because the Night more than the Blood on the Moon, but the combined impression of them is mostly a question of what, if any, hanging plot lines will be used in Suicide Hill, the final book of the trilogy.
LJ Ganser did another fine job with the sometimes bizarre prose, but there were a handful of mistakes that caused me to ding him from a four to a three.
You probably know already if you want to read this book, so to wrap up this mangled review, I'll just say, follow your heart.