Classic Ellroy: a filthy, boozy, fast-paced, violent romp through the history and important figures of early 1960s Los Angeles, all told in Otash's frantic voice ... So complex, multilayered, and full of characters that there is a four-page list of characters at the end as well as a glossary of police and criminal terms, codes, and abbreviations. However, Ellroy keeps things moving at breakneck speed at all times ... Marilyn Monroe's death has achieved myth status, and Ellroy's take on it is at once a superb crime novel about the city he's always written about, a love letter to a very different time, and a narrative that ensures the Freddy Otash novels will be mentioned along the novels in The L.A. Quartet and the Underworld U.S.A. Trilogy as some of Ellroy's best work.
ooking for a plucky underdog overcoming the odds and neatly saving the day, providing optimism and comfort? James Ellroy isn’t your man. Nothing so easy here. We’re all born sinners ... Ellroy is a modern master of making his characters interesting instead of nice ... [The] distinct Ellroy style—staccato, slangy—can make even a slow plod through exposition seem like a harried sprint ... Where some writers might light a match to illuminate their way through a chapter, Ellroy takes a flamethrower. Full on, all the time—a style that is intensely, unequivocally, unapologetically his. The commitment to it never wavers, so you either enjoy the ride or get the hell out. No allowances will be made.
To pick up a James Ellroy novel in the year 2023 is to know the score. We...do not arrive expecting much in the way of lavish scene-setting, characters who confound us with complexity, or commas. We are here for the short, stabby sentences and percussive rhythms. Stories are sheared down to bare-bones plot, almost stage directions, almost, at times, demented square-dance calls ... Beyond the syntax, beyond the quick, greasy fun, there’s a world view shaped by personal tragedy ... What does it mean to embrace such men? For Ellroy, this is literary vision—to see the world for what it is, to love it as it is without flinching, and to see yourself in the same way. In effect, it means that he can never fully abandon his psychosexual plots; they burn at the core of everything he writes ... Repetitiveness, this obstinacy, is a distinctive feature of Ellroy’s writing. His fiction, at its most potent, is driven less by plot than by ritual. He has been canonized and censured; he writes now, in his mid-seventies, on a plane beyond the exigencies of either, enjoying a rare kind of freedom ... Marilyn remains fragmented and removed, strips of celluloid; it’s only Freddy whose body heat we feel ... The Enchanters, which takes place during L.A.’s August heat, is at once panting and sluggish ... What it feels we are left with—the ribs and spine of a book, delivered with strange weariness ... But, for all the novel’s exasperations, its author’s talent for mayhem still has its charms.
Feverish ... Savagely satirical ... The amount of guilty pleasure to be had from The Enchanters depends on a reader’s tolerance for disparaging depictions of notable figures from the past. In any case, Mr. Ellroy dazzles with his detailed knowledge of the geography and denizens of the City of Fallen Angels, his brutal action sequences, his imaginative daring and his more sympathetic female characters.
Fact, fiction and conspiracy blur together until you can’t tell which is which, and you almost cease to care. The meticulous detail accumulates with a reportorial verve, each small action adding to the big picture ... [Monroe] is depicted as a pill-popping, ditzy dilettante, deluded and drunk and self-centered and into some very shady stuff. All of which might have been true on some level, but The Enchanters exudes a sort of pervy and even necrophiliac delight in its postmortem ... But this is what you get with Ellroy. The fever dream and the undiluted sleaze, in which he is far from the only crime novelist to indulge. Here, however, he’s messing with an icon (not to mention two popular political figures who met tragic deaths). The transgressions feel more severe, and, it must be said, more exciting. You might not want to live in Ellroy Land, but The Enchanters makes for a pretty wild visit.
The plot of The Enchanters is sprawling yet intricate, a riveting series of events made all the more vivid by the precision of the details — the heavy wiretap surveillance opens up a prominent peripheral cast of hangers on, psychiatrists, pornographers and other petty criminals that swirl around the edges of the scene. Ellroy’s writing matches its sensational subject ... The novel’s style also fits its mood — jumpy and nervy ... The dramatis personae and glossary are not quite enough to render all of it lucid. Mostly, though, the effect is carnivalesque — literary roller coaster meets Tilt-A-Whirl.
Delightfully scabrous ... One of Ellroy’s best works in years ... The novel may strike unwary readers as somewhere between countercultural trolling and a 400-page hate crime. But his fans will love it.
Ellroy's book, inspired by the death of Marilyn Monroe and her reputed relationships with John F. and Robert Kennedy, presents Hollywood as a violent cesspool, virtually the opposite of [Tom] Hanks' sweet tale ... The Enchanters also underscores one thing that might be a rule for Hollywood novels: Use real names. Ellroy's profane, scuzzy, hilarious tale is crammed with dope — real or imagined — on dozens of celebrities, including Elizabeth Taylor and the aforementioned POTUS. It gives his book a huge leg up because we know these 'characters' the second he name-drops them.
Sprawling ... Ambience, plus his signature jazzy turns of phrase, will thrill longtime fans, but newcomers may get lost in the sprawl. This fascinating, overstuffed outing won’t win Ellroy many new converts, but it’s still a hell of a ride.
he plot embeds Monroe in porn, prostitution, pedophilia, and political protest as well as a scheme to blackmail the president into divorcing Jackie and making Marilyn first lady. There are so many layers of sleaze that it can be tough to keep things straight as the breakneck momentum accelerates. The climax might well leave the reader as breathless as Ellroy’s prose, and in need of a good shower.