Perfidia: A novel
I was immediately intrigued by Perfidia because of its setting in US history. The novel starts on December 6, 1941, in Los Angeles, before the war, into the attack on Pearl Harbor and discussions about mass-internment of Japanese citizens. The major players are the LAPD’s Dudley Smith, Bill Parker, political socialite Kay Lake, and Hideo Ashida, the brilliant forensic chemist and sole Japanese of the police force. The dynamic of these key characters gets interesting as career promotions and political agendas all hinge on solving the murder of the Watanabes. The government wants a Japanese murder conviction and it becomes a game as the detectives collude, each to the benefit of their own personal agendas, even if it means obstructing the investigation.
It’s a complex story with multiple parallel running plot lines, which were consistently grounded by the main murder investigation in moments when the novel leaned toward convolution. The writing style took some time to get used to, and in the beginning read as fragmented, but Ellroy successfully played with the attitudes of racism and eugenics that were appropriate for the time period. Although a hefty book, this is one to revisit to fully comprehend the intricate story Ellroy has produced.