Books

Bang, Bang, You’re Dead

Murders abound in new novels from James Ellroy, Joe R. Lansdale, Laura McHugh and Leonardo Padura.

By Sarah Weinman

Reading James Ellroy is like being dragged into hell. This, I should stress, is both a compliment and a curse. The best of Ellroy seems to echo Dante’s “Inferno,” spiraling down circle after circle into the depths of mid-20th-century depravity where some greater meaning can be found — only to be upended and refracted. The worst of his work, however, devolves into monotony, the staccato prose more repetitive than ruminative, the characters sliding into ugly caricature.

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