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A raw, explicit memoir as high-intensity and riveting as any of Ellroy's novels. The theme: the author’s obsessive pursuit of women.

America’s greatest living crime writer gives us a raw, brutally candid memoir — as high intensity and as riveting as any of his novels — about his obsessive search for "atonement in women."

The year was 1958. Jean Hilliker had divorced her fast-buck hustler husband and resurrected her maiden name. Her son, James, was ten years old. He hated and lusted for his mother and “summoned her dead.” She was murdered three months later.

The Hilliker Curse is a predator’s confession, a treatise on guilt and the power of malediction, and above all a cri de cœur. Ellroy unsparingly describes his shattered childhood, his delinquent teens, his writing life, his love affairs and marriages, his nervous breakdown and the beginning of a relationship with an extraordinary woman who may just be the long-sought Her.

A layered narrative of time and place, emotion and insight, sexuality and spiritual quest, The Hilliker Curse is a brilliant, soul-baring revelation of self. It is unlike any memoir you have ever read.


A remarkable memoir...Hugely enjoyable.

The Economist

We turn the pages gripped with a rubbernecker's fascination...It is ugly, beautiful, reprehensible and moving. In other words, a hard book to forget.

Irish Times

High-octane...A breathless piece of writing...When it comes to pinning down the most startling possible word collision, Ellroy's acrobatic pizzazz is beyond doubt...This is literary knife-throwing at its most exhilarating and dangerous.

Julie Myerson, Guardian

A painfully honest book, written in Ellroy's usual blunt, breathless but often starkly beautiful prose... a marvellous read

Time Out

James Ellroy's crime novels have been much acclaimed for their dark plots, tough prose and generally bleak view of the world. Now that he's brought those same qualities to bear on a history of relationships with women, the result, inevitably, is not for the faint-hearted...Ellroy writes with such swagger and certainty that it's hard not to be swept along. He also - let's face it - has quite a tale to tell.

Daily Mail

The latest from this American literary legend is a stark rendition of murder, nervous breakdown, affairs, divorces and much more. It's an incredibly frank and soul-bearing piece of writing which goes some way to explaining the extreme and obsessive nature of Ellroy's brilliant novels.

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Formats & editions

  • The Hilliker Curse
    James Ellroy



    August 1, 2011

    Windmill Books

    224 pages

    RRP $19.99

    Online retailers

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    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

  • EBook


    September 10, 2010

    Cornerstone Digital

    224 pages

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