I hadn't read any Ellroy before this, but it totally grabbed me. Hollywood Nocturnes is made up of six semi-interlocking short stories set in Ellroy's favorite haunt--post-war L.A. In one story, a musician decides to solve his problems by having himself kidnapped. In another a mob enforcer is entranced by a woman who dates the two most powerful men in town. A series of murders on the African-American side of town isn't necessarily what it it seems to be.
The characters are mostly anti-heroes--in fact, some of them are pretty terrible--but they all have their own special charm. I was particularly fond of Buzz Meeks and his story. The stories are quickly plotted, and detailed enough to be satisfying without running over. Ellroy's prose is clipped and slightly brutal, but also lovingly arranged, I and I enjoyed it in the same way that I enjoy some of Stephen King's literary gymnastics.
This book made me immediately set out to get my hands on more of the author's work. Both his style and his subjects really appealed to me, though I will admit that if you are looking for strong female characters, you are probably not going to find any here.