The Hilliker Curse by James Ellroy. Book review

The Hilliker Curse by James Ellroy. William Heineman ‘16.99/’8.99.

Reviewed by Peter Coleborn

This book is subtitled ‘My Pursuit of Women’ and I guess that gives you a huge idea of what it’s all about. It all started in the late 1950s when his Ellroy’s mother obtained a divorce. The ten year old boy had difficulty adjusting emotionally and became fixated on her ‘ both desiring and despising her. It was lust and hate, so much so that Ellroy wished her dead. In a few months she was found murdered and, to this date, her killing has not been solved. Her death left a void in the boy. As he grew Ellroy entered a life or petty crime, and a life spent looking for that one woman to save him. But he was looking for his mother.

Fortunately for him and us, he found a few women able to tame his destructive streak, which became channelled into some of the finest crime fiction I’ve read. The pinnacle of his oeuvre is, arguably, LA Confidential. Although I rate American Tabloid I feel that Ellroy’s writing had by now become too abrupt, like bullet points. This staccato style is very much an acquired taste and persists into The Hilliker Curse and this, I fear, detracts from a full appreciation of the story. It’s quite exhausting to read ‘ although I guess people well versed in the vernacular he employs may not agree with me.

Despite all that, I do suggest that for the writer of crime stories, this book provides excellent research and background material. It allows you to get into the mind of Ellroy as he matures into manhood, as he seeks out his ideal woman.

The Hilliker Curse by James Ellroy. William Heineman ‘16.99/’8.99.

Reviewed by Peter Coleborn

This book is subtitled ‘My Pursuit of Women’ and I guess that gives you a huge idea of what it’s all about. It all started in the late 1950s when his Ellroy’s mother obtained a divorce. The ten year old boy had difficulty adjusting emotionally and became fixated on her ‘ both desiring and despising her. It was lust and hate, so much so that Ellroy wished her dead. In a few months she was found murdered and, to this date, her killing has not been solved. Her death left a void in the boy. As he grew Ellroy entered a life or petty crime, and a life spent looking for that one woman to save him. But he was looking for his mother.

Fortunately for him and us, he found a few women able to tame his destructive streak, which became channelled into some of the finest crime fiction I’ve read. The pinnacle of his oeuvre is, arguably, LA Confidential. Although I rate American Tabloid I feel that Ellroy’s writing had by now become too abrupt, like bullet points. This staccato style is very much an acquired taste and persists into The Hilliker Curse and this, I fear, detracts from a full appreciation of the story. It’s quite exhausting to read ‘ although I guess people well versed in the vernacular he employs may not agree with me.

Despite all that, I do suggest that for the writer of crime stories, this book provides excellent research and background material. It allows you to get into the mind of Ellroy as he matures into manhood, as he seeks out his ideal woman.