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Publisher's Summary

Los Angeles, 1950. Red crosscurrents: the commie scare and a string of brutal mutilation killings. Gangland intrigue and Hollywood sleaze. Three cops caught in a hellish web of ambition, perversion, and deceit.

Danny Upshaw is a sheriff's deputy stuck with a bunch of snuffs nobody cares about; they're his chance to make his name as a cop...and to sate his darkest curiosities. Mal Considine is DA's bureau brass. He's climbing on the Red Scare bandwagon to advance his career and to gain custody of his adopted son, a child he saved from the horror of postwar Europe. Buzz Meeks - bagman, ex-narco goon, and pimp for Howard Hughes - is fighting communism for the money. All three men have purchased tickets to a nightmare.

©1988 James Ellroy (P)2015 Hachette Audio

What listeners say about The Big Nowhere

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Best of the LA Quartet

This was the best of Elliot's LA Quartet IMO, superbly wrought and emotional in its tragic conclusion

5 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

An underrated classic.

Just the right combination of booze, babes, and bullets to keep any hardcore detective fiction fan happy. Not for the faint of heart or for those easily offended by 1950's racism, sexism, or homophobia.

3 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

ALL you want out of LA Noir.

“It all came down to money - the great equalizer and common denominator.”
― James Ellroy, The Big Nowhere

Probably 4.5 stars. I'm leaving room, saving stars, minding the gap, because I KNOW this isn't Elroy's best. Still, it is a novel that if written by any other living crime writer it might be considered their masterpiece and this is only 2nd shelf Ellroy. Chew on that. This is the 2nd book in Ellroy's LA Quartet Series (Starts with The Black Dahlia and includes this, L.A. Confidential, and White Jazz). It really has all you want out of LA Noir. Hollywood, homosexuals, drugs, jazz, sex, the Mob, crooked cops, etc. The plot is near perfect and the characters are BETTER than the plot, in my book.

James Ellroy does for crime thrillers what John le Carré does for spy thrillers. They both have made their own corner of genre fiction literary. Both will be read in 400 years as future academics and fans try to tease out how exactly how f'ed-up the 20th century really was.

19 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Red Chasing, Rogue Cops, Hollywood, and a Killer

Once it starts to click, it doesn't let up. My Favorite of the LA quartet.

2 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Wrong narrator. Good book

Solid tough Ellroy pulp. I love see different sides of characters I've seen in his other books.

Culp missed the tough pulp cadence of Ellroy. He was just okay.

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Dark and sleazy side of 1950 Los Angeles

Ellroy's second book in the L A quartet is dark, mean, ugly, sleazy, and gripping. It is hard to read because of its complete lack of political correctness. The attitudes toward the gay community, and people of color are hard to take. In 2019 it is shocking to read. However, it feels true to the time and the characters.

The crime is horrific. The city is presented at its worst. This is not the 1950s as presented by Ozzy & Harriet. This is not the "good old days" described by my elders. Ellroy's books are deeply cynical and a bit angry. I feel as though he has punched me in the gut after I finish his books. And, although I am in no way a cynical person, I am also not naive. I know that this side of the world exists and I find Ellroy's descriptions of the seedy side of the street gripping and thrilling. Unputdownable.

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Crazy, demented and riveting

Ellroy's capacity to insert his readers into the fevered thoughts of The Obsessed should be regulated by the FDA! Do not operate heavy machine when using. In case of erections, seek immediate psychiatric assistance!

1 person found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Depressing

Not a likable character in the whole story. Why should we care about characters that are all despicable in a story universe of total corruption? It’s chapter after chapter of racist, violent morally empty and homophobic characters doing bad things to each other. Yuck! I’m really sorry I wasted my money on this (expletive deleted).

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    5 out of 5 stars

Sublime Hard-Boiled Noir

5 of 5 stars.

In this second installment of his LA Quartet, James Ellroy further develops his blending of crime and Social history from the perspectives of a trio of LA detectives (LAPD and LASD).

Ellroy’s style in The Big Nowhere hasn’t reached the minimalist prose and short staccato sentences prominent in later novels where document inserts and newspaper headlines are also used to set the stage and paint big picture events. This is no criticism and this novel stands on its own without requiring familiarity with Ellroy or the first LA quartet novel, the Black Dahlia (1987).

Jason Culp gives an excellent performance and fits the material well, his accents are understated with a nod to his depiction of Leland “Buzz” Meeks’ folksy Oklahoma twang.

Highly recommended for historical crime readers not offended by mid-century American vernacular.

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Disappointing listen

After reading all the positive reviews and enjoying Black Dahlia I had high expectations for this book. Unfortunately, I was disappointed. I managed to finish book as I like Ellroy's descriptions and writing style. However, story was borderline nonsensical. Perhaps it is better in print.