American Tabloid by James Ellroy

Photo: Philip Friedman/Studio D

4 of 5
American Tabloid
592 pages; Vintage
"Conspiracies are so much more fun than just thinking, One nut killed a good man," David Duchovny says. Set during the Kennedy administration, this novel imagines a country covertly controlled by rogue intelligence and law enforcement officers. Though not a big believer in conspiracy theories—"It's so hard for people to keep the smallest of secrets, like whether or not somebody colors their hair"—Duchovny recognizes their appeal. "Nobody understands evil. Nobody understands violent crime. We want to know why, when the truth is that in life we don't get to know why. Fiction, in many ways, is trying to assuage that part of human nature that wants to know why: Make it make sense for me. Please tell me it was a bunch of bad guys and not just the fact that life is hard."
— As told to Karen Holt