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James Ellroy’s latest attempt to unseat the Great American Novel

A review of Perfidia, by James Ellroy. There are big moral questions and grand themes in Ellroy's new crime novel but ultimately it’s all too inflated

11 October 2014

9:00 AM

11 October 2014

9:00 AM

Perfidia James Ellroy

Heinemann, pp.692, £18.99, ISBN: 9780434020522

Aficionados of detective fiction have long known that the differences between the soft- and hard-boiled school are so profound that, as P.D. James observed, it seems stretching a definition to place both groups in the same category. Over here we have, or used to have, a comforting story concerned with restoring order to the mythical village of Mayhem Parva; across the Atlantic, the detective novel is expected to tackle the rotten, usually urban, underbelly of the American Dream.

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Available from the Spectator Bookshop, £15.99 Tel: 08430 600033. Amanda Craig’s books include Foreign Bodies, A Vicious Circle and Hearts and Minds.

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