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Perfidia

A Novel
Narrated by: Craig Wasson
Length: 28 hrs and 7 mins
4 out of 5 stars (221 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

It is December 6, 1941. America stands at the brink of World War II. Last hopes for peace are shattered when Japanese squadrons bomb Pearl Harbor. Los Angeles has been a haven for loyal Japanese-Americans - but now, war fever and race hate grip the city and the Japanese internment begins.

The hellish murder of a Japanese family summons three men and one woman. William H. Parker is a captain on the Los Angeles Police Department. He's superbly gifted, corrosively ambitious, liquored-up, and consumed by dubious ideology. He is bitterly at odds with Sergeant Dudley Smith - Irish émigré, ex-IRA killer, fledgling war profiteer. Hideo Ashida is a police chemist and the only Japanese on the L.A. cop payroll. Kay Lake is a 21-year-old dilettante looking for adventure. The investigation throws them together and rips them apart. The crime becomes a political storm center that brilliantly illuminates these four driven souls - comrades, rivals, lovers, history's pawns.

Perfidia is a novel of astonishments. It is World War II as you have never seen it, and Los Angeles as James Ellroy has never written it before. Here, he gives us the party at the edge of the abyss and the precipice of America's ascendance. Perfidia is that moment, spellbindingly captured. It beckons us to solve a great crime that, in its turn, explicates the crime of war itself. It is a great American novel.

©2014 James Ellroy (P)2014 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

" Perfidia is a brilliant, breakneck ride. Nobody except James Ellroy could pull this off. He doesn't merely write - he ignites and demolishes." (Carl Hiaasen)
"A return to the scene of Ellroy's greatest success and a triumphant return to form. ... His character portrayals have never been more nuanced or - dare we say it - sympathetic. ... A disturbing, unforgettable, and inflammatory vision of how the men in charge respond to the threat of war. It's an ugly picture, but just try looking away." ( Booklist)
"A sprawling, uncompromising epic of crime and depravity." ( Publishers Weekly)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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A Masterpiece of Writing and Narration

Many reviewers have loathed this book, especially in its printed version. Admittedly, James Ellroy is an acquired taste, but one I fully embraced years ago. I've read every one of his novels, essays, short stories, and have found them a difficult journey worth taking. Perfidia is not the place to start, but it is more accessible than Ellroy at his most terse, such as White Jazz or The Cold Six Thousand. That being said, this first volume in his new LA Quartet is nothing short of a violent, rabid masterpiece--an over the top prose poem to violence and debauchery.

And while the novel is great by itself, it is made so much more vivid and memorable by the masterful Craig Wasson in what I believe is the single best audio book performance I have ever heard.

I read the book on the Kindle with the Audible book being read by Wasson simultaneously for one of the great reading / listening experiences of my life.

11 of 12 people found this review helpful

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Narrator Craig Wasson is a treasure!

I've listened to Craig Wasson narrate "The Cold Six Thousand" and "Blood's a Rover." He was fantastic, but he's even better here! His characterization of Dudley Smith is particularly good.

If you like Ellroy's Underworld USA Trilogy, you'll like "Perfedia." Its plot isn't as "driving" as other Ellroy novels, but it makes up for it with riveting characters.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Rough beginning, softer landing

Any additional comments?


Out of the gate, this was a rough listen. The first section of the book was off-putting to the point where I nearly cashed it in. I am very glad I did not. The listen smoothed out shortly after the open and evolves in to a really good listen. In my opinion, there are likable though multi-flawed characters, a very good story line, and good narration. (Note: the narrator is the same on another great listen of 11/22/63 by Stephen King).

I look forward to the follow up books in this four-part series.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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Good performance, with a caveat

Narrator captures the hard boiled style without overdoing it, and his word emphasis helps with following Ellroys typically labyrinthine plot. But his accents, especially Chinese, Japanese and Irish are borderline stereotypical.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • YT
  • 09-20-15

Outstanding

You simply cannot go wrong with James Ellroy narrated by Craig Wasson. I would never have imagined that a novel about Los Angeles immediately after Pearl Harbor could be so fascinating.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Spot on reader!

Mr. Wasson perfectly captured the vocals. 1941 Los Angeles history was captivating for me. I look forward to the next in the trilogy.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Strong performance. Poor ending

Great reading.

Originally - throughout the first 2/3 of the book I was really impressed how Elroy could write a prequel to some of his other books light the Black Dahlia and LA Confidential and actually add to the characters' depth. But the last 1/4 of the book pretty much falls apart and we're left with a preposterous ending.

Too bad. I like Elroy's writing style, but it feels like he paints himself into a plot corner and uses dumb plot ideas to resolve.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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With A Vengeance

I love Ellroy, so this is biased. After hearing him say many years ago that he was "done with LA" after his LA Quartet of novels it was refreshing to me that he did this prequel of sorts using some old familiar characters and some new ones, including real people like William H. Parker. The writing is terse and the language blunt, short staccato bursts of dialogue that get to the point quickly with no filler. The Japanese angle with WWII as a backdrop brings up old staples like the blatant racism of the LAPD which he has covered before but I don't get tired of. I like the time period, the character driven plot, the movie star name dropping. Invigorating. The narrator overdoes it a bit with some of the accents but there are a lot of characters to cover and he moves nimbly between them all. His Eleanor Roosevelt voice was a real hoot. I let the reality of some of the accents slide since Ellroy's characters tend to run into the extreme in personality and motivation anyway. Being a fan of film noir and crime novels of the forties, books like this take me back in time. No one else has the bravado and sheer detail of police procedural quite like James Ellroy. I look forward to the next one.

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Ellroy : The Master

An amazing novel that covers Los Angeles in the days before Pearl Harbor and the weeks immediately after. Bad cops, femme fatal, amazing atmosphere this story has it all.

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Wasson delivers another gem

I really love James Elroy books. Within that grouping, this is not my favorite but nonetheless very entertaining. Craig Wasson is an absolute master and he delivers a great performance here. His interpretation of Dudley Smith brings him to life. For Elroy and Wasson fans, I would recommend this book.