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The Big Somewhere: Essays on James Ellroy’s Noir World will be released in July 2018. Here’s the link to the book’s page on Bloomsbury. You can also buy the book on or

James Ellroy’s identity as a crime writer is rooted in his extraordinary life story and relationship with his home city of Los Angeles. Beginning with the unsolved murder of his mother, Geneva Hilliker Ellroy, in 1958, Ellroy’s early life played a large role in shaping his obsessions with murder, the criminal underworld of L.A. and the redemptive power of the feminine. Ellroy’s life could be seen as a brutal, visceral and emotionally exhausting realisation of the American Dream, a theme he has explored in his writing to the extent that he is credited with reinventing crime fiction.

The Big Somewhere: Essays on James Ellroy’s Noir World is an in-depth, scholarly study of the work of James Ellroy, featuring leading Ellroy scholars such as Anna Flügge, Jim Mancall and Rodney Taveira. Moving from Ellroy’s early detective novels to his later epic works of historical fiction, it explores how Ellroy found his place in the history of the genre by building on, and then surpassing, the works of authors who influenced him such as Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler and Joseph Wambaugh. It also examines Ellroy’s impact on contemporary writers and on the cultural perception of L.A., which has been his legacy through the L.A. Quartet novels.

The ‘Big Somewhere’ is not a geographical location, but a conglomeration of the cinematic, historical and fictional worlds that influenced Ellroy, from film noir to the Kennedy era in American politics, and on which he, in turn, has left his mark.


“Steven Powell is fast becoming the authority on James Ellroy, and this excellent edited collection consolidates and enhances this reputation. The essays, uniformly high-quality and wide-ranging in scope, bring together key scholars in the field and offer complex, exciting ways of understanding Ellroy’s entire body of work and the contexts that have produced it. Taken as a whole, this immaculately put-together book should be essential reading for anyone with an interest in Ellroy, crime fiction and post-WW2 American culture.” –  Andrew Pepper, Senior Lecturer in English, Queen’s University Belfast, UK

“Pull down the top of your Eldorado and prepare for a ride through the Big Somewhere, aka the Valley of the Shadow of Death. Steven Powell and his colleagues are ready and able to guide you, and they’re not afraid of Ellroy’s dark places.” –  Richard B. Schwartz, Professor of English and Dean of the College of Arts and Science Emeritus, University of Missouri, USA, and author of Nice and Noir: Contemporary American Crime Fiction (2002)


James Ellroy: Demon Dog of Crime Fiction was released October 2015. Here’s the link to the book’s page on Palgrave Macmillan’s website. You can also buy the book on or

James Ellroy is both an acclaimed crime novelist and enigmatic literary figure. Works such as the LA Quartet and Underworld USA trilogy have become synonymous with his literary style as well as his self-styled Demon Dog of American crime fiction persona. Ellroy’s artistic vision, drawn from stylistic experimentation and the harrowing experiences of his early life, is contradictory and changeful and his influences range from fellow crime writers to classical music. James Ellroy: Demon Dog of Crime Fiction is a study of all Ellroy’s key works, from his debut novel Brown’s Requiem to the epic Underworld USA trilogy. This book traces the development of Ellroy’s writing style and the importance of his Demon Dog persona to American crime fiction. Drawing on extensive interviews and access to unpublished archival material, this book presents the most in depth and comprehensive portrait yet of James Ellroy, the man and author.


‘Steven Powell is THE James Ellroy authority.’

-Craig McDonald, author of Death in the Face.

“He writes in a readable way, wears his learning lightly, and puts his discussions with Ellroy to good use. If you are interested in studying Ellroy, this thoughtful … book will prove a valuable and important resource.” Martin Edwards, Do You Write Under Your Own Name?

‘James Ellroy: Demon Dog of Crime Fiction looks in great depth at Ellroy’s fiction, carefully picking out cogent threads in its development, and even attempting to make sense of White Jazz, which baffled us lesser mortals who read the uncorrected proof version back in 1992. He was, and continues to be,a writer who splits opinions but as the author of several excellent thrillers and the outstanding achievement that was the ‘L.A. Quartet’, who has honed his own, unique, narrative ‘voice’, Ellroy is well-worth such a rich critical study.’

Mike Ripley, Getting Away With Murder


My book, Conversations with James Ellroy, was released in February 2012. You can find more information about the book at University Press of Mississippi website. Here is the link to buy the book on or

This is a fascinating collection of interviews with the ‘bad boy’ of American crime fiction, conducted between 1984 to 2010. Born Lee Earle Ellroy in 1948, James Ellroy is one of the most critically acclaimed and controversial contemporary writers of crime and historical fiction. Ellroy’s complex narratives, which merge history and fiction, have pushed the boundaries of the crime fiction genre: American Tabloid, a revisionist look at the Kennedy era, was Time magazine’s Novel of the Year 1995, and his novels L.A. Confidential and The Black Dahlia were adapted into films. In Conversations with James Ellroy, Ellroy talks extensively about his life, his literary influences, his persona, and his attitudes towards politics and religion. In interviews with fellow crime writers Craig McDonald, David Peace, and others, including several previously unpublished interviews, Ellroy is at turns charismatic and eloquent, combative and enigmatic.


‘This is a superb collection of Ellroy interviews. As most of his readers will
know, Ellroy is an excellent interviewee. He is candid, lively, informative and
never dull. The interviews here cover the full spectrum of his work. […] This is a don’t miss for Ellroy fans. Highly recommended.’

-Richard B. Schwartz, author of Nice and Noir: Contemporary American Crime Fiction







My latest book is the anthology 100 American Crime Writers published by Palgrave Macmillan as part of their Crime Files series. It is available to buy on and

From Edgar Allan Poe to James Ellroy, crime writers have provided some of the most popular, controversial, acclaimed and disturbing works in American literature. 100 American Crime Writers provides critical biographies of some of the greatest and most important crime writers in American history. Both an important scholarly work and an enjoyable read accessible to a wider audience, this addition in Palgrave’s Crime Files series includes discussion of the lives of key crime writers, as well as analysis of the full breadth and scope of the genre – from John Dickson Carr’s Golden Age detective stories to Raymond Chandler’s hardboiled Philip Marlowe novels, Ed McBain’s 87th Precinct police procedurals to Megan Abbott’s modern day reimagining of the femme fatale. Drawing on some of the best and most recent scholarship in the field, all of the key writers and themes of the genre are discussed in this comprehensive study of one of the most fascinating and popular of literary genres.


‘This is a uniquely comprehensive guide. It combines range with coverage. Each entry has a useful biographical summary along with a concise critical survey of the writer’s fiction. The suggestions for further reading are just what are needed. This volume will make an invaluable companion to a large and complex field.’

– David Seed, University of Liverpool, UK

‘The most cogent comment one might make about the book is this: if you think you are going to pick up 100 American Crime Writers and simply dip into it, you will find that not such an easy impulse. What’s more, it will cost you money: within just a few pages I was making a note of the books I had to buy, even with my shelves groaning under hundreds of similar crime novels. An essential purchase.’ Barry Forshaw, Crimetime

‘100 American Writers is a book that I think will appeal to a significant number of readers. The writers are discussed in short, snappy summaries by a range of writers, and the book doesn’t become bogged down by academic jargon […]  For anyone seeking an introduction to American crime fiction, this book will make a very good choice.’  Martin Edwards, Do You Write Under Your Own Name?

100 American Crime Writers is a well-constructed anthology which includes concise biographies of a number of famous and lesser-known American crime writers. The key strengths of the collection include the wide time-span which it covers, the significant presence of women crime writers, and the attention to racial diversity’. Helen Oakley, Journal of American Studies Volume 47, Issue 3 August 2013 E82

‘100 American Crime Writers is an invaluable source of reference for anyone interested in crime fiction from Edgar Allan Poe to Megan Abbott (born 122 years after Poe died)’ Mike Ripley, Getting Away With Murder 

I contributed an essay to Cross-Cultural Connections in Crime Fiction edited by Vivien Miller and Helen Oakley. My piece was titled ‘”Betty Short and I Go Back”: James Ellroy and the Metanarrative of the Black Dahlia Case.’

Drawing on a range of disciplinary tools and critical analyses, this unique collection explores interdisciplinary connections between academic and professional crime writing, historical studies of crime and ‘true crime’, and screen portrayals of crime and criminals from the 1850s to the present day. The essays are based on murder and exploitation, outlaws, gunfighters, private eyes, bounty hunters, serial killers, gangsters, and the police procedural, and explore representations of race, gender, sexuality and memory. International in its coverage, the book includes analysesof well-known writers such as Maj Sjöwall, Sir
Arthur Conan Doyle, James Ellroy and Elizabeth Ruth.

‘A wide-ranging collection of essays on crime fiction, television and film which makes valuable new contributions to its subject area. Its crossing of cultural boundaries and a particular focus on issues of spatial representation, generic hybridity and gender mark it as a welcome addition to its field.’

– Peter Messent, University of Nottingham, UK

You can buy Cross-Cultural Connections in Crime Fiction on and

Serial Crime FictionI have written a chapter for the anthology Serial Crime Fiction titled ‘The Structure of the Whole: James Ellroy’s LA Quartet Series’. You can find more information on the book at Palgrave’s website.

Serial Crime Fiction is the first book to focus explicitly on the complexities of crime fiction seriality. As a whole the book argues that, far from being limited and repetitive, serial crime fiction exploits a seemingly infinite variety of permutations to explore major social issues. Covering definitions and development of the serial form, implications of the setting, perceptions and marketing of the series, this book also offers lively and innovative readings of nineteenth- to twenty-first-century crime fiction from Argentina, Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Sweden, the UK, and the USA. Authors studied include Conan Doyle, Dorothy Sayers, Sara Paretsky, David Peace, James Ellroy, Maurice Leblanc, Lisa Marklund, Andrea Camilleri, and Jorge Luis Borges, across print, film and television.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Jason Carter permalink
    January 15, 2016 8:03 pm

    Hi Steve, will your “Demon Dog of Crime Fiction” (2015) book be released in paperback? I LOVED the “conversations” book! Taken together, all those Ellroy interviews practically comprise an alternate Ellroy book! Thanks so much!

    • January 15, 2016 9:17 pm

      Hi Jason, thanks so much for your kind comment. Presently, there are no plans for a paperback edition but that might change depending on how well the book does. There is an e-book edition which is slightly cheaper. The issue of cost can be a real burden in academic publishing. You could try and get your library to order a copy.


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