James Ellroy. Silent Terror (1986) 280 pp. [pbo]
Martin Michael Plunkett is a product of his times—the possessor of a genius intellect, a pitiless soul of brushed steel, and a heart of blackest evil. With criminal tendencies forged in the fires of L.A.’s Charles Manson hysteria, he comes to the bay city of San Francisco—and submits to savage and terrible impulses that reveal to him his true vocation as a pure and perfect murderer. And so begins his decade of discovery and terror, as he cuts a bloody swath across the full length of a land, ingeniously exploiting and feeding upon a society’s obsessions. As he maneuvers deftly through a seamy world of drugs, flesh, and perversions, the media will call him many things—but Martin Plunkett’s real name is Death. His brilliant, twisted mind is a horrifying place to explore. His madness reflects a nation’s own. The killer is on the road. And there’s nowhere in America to hide. Also published in a limited hardcover edition (Los Angeles: Blood and Guts Press, 1987; 350 copies) and re-issued as Killer on the Road.