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“The Enchanters”: the latest hot novel by Colorado author James Ellroy
September 26, 2023
“The Enchanters.” By James Ellroy. Alfred A. Knopf.
Los Angeles, 1962. Marilyn Monroe has just killed herself. Another movie star is kidnapped. A sex fiend is sneaking into women’s houses. The police department is corrupt, and so is Freddy Otash, former private eye and opportunist. Still, Bobby Kennedy wants to quash the rumors about Monroe and President Jack Kennedy, so he and the L.A. police department bring in Freddy to do the job.
He’s given free rein and told a murder charge against him will disappear if he’s successful. Freddy, who has shacked up with Pat Kennedy Lawford, digs into Marilyn’s past, only to discover she was a dope fiend and sex-crazed actress who would sleep with anybody — among her last conquests was the pizza-delivery man — and was fascinated with the crime and porno movie-making. Jack Kennedy isn’t exactly a choirboy either.
At the same time he’s spreading nasty rumors about Monroe, Freddy is trying to solve the kidnapping of the actress. Nobody is clean in this novel — not Jimmy Hoffa nor Peter Lawford, Darryl Zanuck or the dozens of characters the author creates. Freddy isn’t clean either, but he is rather sympathetic, as he faces his own involvement in the trifecta of the kidnapping, the Kennedy escapades and the sex creep.
“The Enchanters” is the latest in a string of hot books by Colorado author James Ellroy, whose works include “L.A. Confidential” and “The Black Dahlia.” “The Enchanters” is a bold, provocative, zany and sometimes very funny book, but readers should be warned that it is raw, salacious and profane.
“The Longmire Defense.” By Craig Johnson. Viking.
It’s book 19 for Craig Johnson’s Walt Longmire series, and the legendary Wyoming sheriff is getting up there in years. He’s even thinking he might not run for sheriff next time. But don’t count him out. Not by a long shot.
Longmire discovers a long-lost gun stashed among rocks. The rare weapon reminds him of a long-ago family tale of Big Bill Sutherland, a man killed while on an elk hunt shortly after World War II. One of the three surviving hunters was Walt’s grandfather, who owned just such a gun. Walt believes the death is no accident and decides to look into the cold murder case.
Just as he does, things start to go wrong. The gravedigger who is digging up Sutherland’s grave is shot. A a state archivist in Cheyenne who’s agreed to research the murder is knocked out in her kitchen, where a gas valve on her old stove is leaking. The file she’d left for Walt has disappeared. Walt has no idea what he’s stumbled into, but he’s determined to find out. Sitting in a chair at his grandfather’s closed-up mansion, Walt tells the ghost of the old man, “Just so you know. I’m going to play this string out to the end.”
Walt thinks the murder is tied to the state treasury, after its chief officer, Tom Rondelle, tries to stall the investigation. It would be best for the state, Rondelle explains. Walt doesn’t buy it. He also doesn’t buy a slick investigator that Rondelle sends to help him and concludes that the murder and the state treasury are connected. After all, two of the men who went on the hunt died shortly after Sutherland was shot. Walt’s grandfather was the only one left alive. That makes him the major suspect.
To complicate matters, Walt proposes marriage to Undersheriff Vic Moretti. Instead of answering, Vic disappears. It’s all too much for any lawman, but this is Walt Longmire. So you can be pretty sure he’s up to it.
“Blood Sisters.” By Vanessa Lillie. Berkeley.
Cherokee archaeologist Syd Walker is living in Rhode Island when she’s called back to Picher, Okla., to investigate the case of a woman’s skull found stuck in a tree. The skull has Walker’s identification card wedged in its teeth.
Walker is reluctant to return to her hometown because of horrific memories of a childhood incident in which her best friend, Luna, and Luna’s parents were murdered. Walker and her sister Emma Lou barely escaped. Walker’s never come to terms with the tragedy. In fact, she’s haunted by Luna’s ghost. Moreover, after two years of trying, Walker’s wife has just gotten pregnant and wants Walker by her side.
Walker has no choice but to stay in Picher when she discovers that Emma Lou is missing. Emma Lou is one of several women who’ve gone missing in the Picher area over the years. Walker believes Emma Lou’s husband, another jailbird, is hiding his wife He’s a member of an evil and corrupt family that Walker discovers is smuggling meth from Mexico.
Walker sets out to find her sister, risking her life in a complex thriller that deals with discrimination against the Indians and a fight for Indian land rights. Author Vanessa Lillie, a member of the Cherokee tribe, writes with personal knowledge of the challenges faced by today’s Indians. “Blood Sisters”–Walker, Emma Lou and Lluna—is a dark tale of justice and injustice.
“Disneyland on the Mountain.” By Greg Glasgow and Kathryn Mayer. Rowman and Littlefield.
In 1966, Walt Disney announced plans for a ski area at Mineral King, a spectacular site in the Sierra Nevadas. The resort would include a self-contained village and a high-tech people mover to transport visitors from a parking area outside the village. There would be 14 ski lifts, and lift tickets would cost $2. Willy Schaeffler, ski coach at the University of Denver, was a consultant on the slopes. The area would be tasteful—no Goofy or Donald Duck.
Skiing was exploding in the western U.S. back then, but so was the environmental movement. Years before, the Sierra Club, in a compromise to save another pristine mountain setting from being developed, had offered up Mineral King in exchange. But the Sierra Club reneged.
Now, in “Disneyland on the Mountain,” Colorado authors Greg Glasgow and Kathryn reveal in great detail Disney’s plans for Mineral King and why the ski area was doomed.
Among the first blows was the death of Walt Disney in late 1966. His successors worked hard to keep Disney’s dream alive, but without the beloved Disney, they lacked his driving force as well as a charismatic frontman. Environmentalists, meanwhile, had turned to the courts to thwart the resort. One case, went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. Eventually, after years of litigation, Disney pulled the plug, and Walt Disney’s dream of a European-style ski area in the midst of one of America’s most pristine sites was dead.
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