The Big Nowhere Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of The Big Nowhere

The second in Ellroy's LA quartet takes place in 1950 and opens up a much broader canvas than the first -- the already-complex _The Black Dahlia_. There are three hero-protagonists, several villains, and a panoply of oddballs between them, including such real historic personages as Howard Hughes and Mickey Cohen. Detective Danny Upshaw is an up-and-comer with the LA Sheriff's West Hollywood substation, assigned a sex murder case with a male corpse apparently strangled and gruesomely mutilated. Lt. Mal Considine, an executive officer with LAPD, and Turner "Buzz" Meeks, a tough guy/shitkicker and LAPD washout currently working as head of security for Hughes Aircraft (and incidental pimp for the big boss), agree to serve on a district attorney's anti-Communist task force. Considine is on the Red Scare bandwagon to advance his career and gain custody of his adopted son, Meeks is just in it for the money. The three cross trails and help each other out in the soup of Hollywood has-beens who sympathize with the socialist cause, jazz combos and drug traffic in the black districts, corrupt cops and sometime prostitutes, and Hispanic race riots. Old, ostensibly solved (and unsolved) murder cases also come into play. Anyone would have a hard time summarizing the plot after putting down this raging tumult of a book, but what a rush it is to read!
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The review of this Book prepared by David Loftus

Chapter Analysis of The Big Nowhere

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Plot & Themes

Tone of story    -   Dry-cynical How difficult to spot villain?    -   Difficult, but some clues given Time/era of story:    -   1930's-1950's What % of story relates directly to the mystery, not the subplot?    -   30% Misc. Murder Plotlets    -   character killed during/after sexing Kind of investigator    -   police procedural, American Kid or adult book?    -   Adult or Young Adult Book Crime Thriller    -   Yes Murder Mystery (killer unknown)    -   Yes

Main Character

Gender    -   Male Profession/status:    -   police/lawman Age:    -   20's-30's Unusual characteristics:    -   Cynical or arrogant


United States    -   Yes The US:    -   California City?    -   Yes City:    -   Los Angeles    -   dangerous

Writing Style

Accounts of torture and death?    -   very gorey descriptions deaths/dead bodies Explicit sex in book?    -   Yes What kind of sex:    -   vague references    -   descript of kissing    -   actual description of sex Unusual forms of death    -   asphyxiation    -   poisoning    -   perforation--bullets    -   blunt clubbing (like seals) Unusual form of death?    -   Yes Amount of dialog    -   roughly even amounts of descript and dialog

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James Ellroy Books Note: the views expressed here are only those of the reviewer(s).
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