BOOKS: A DEATH IN THE WRITER'S FAMILY

JAMES ELLROY RETRACES AN UNSOLVED MYSTERY--HIS OWN MOTHER'S MURDER

After spending a weekend with his father in Los Angeles, a 10-year-old boy with divorced parents is returned to his mother's house in El Monte, a valley town a short bus ride to the east. Men in uniform tell him his mother was murdered early that morning. The son shows no emotion to the officers but breaks down on the bus ride back with his father: "I cried. I cranked tears out all the way to L.A. I hated her. I hated El Monte. Some unknown killer just bought me a brand-new beautiful life."

James Ellroy has told this story from...

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