- Shopping Bag ( 0 items )
From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
James Ellroy's aptly named American Tabloid was a gaudy, audacious account of crime, scandal, and politics that ended in Dallas on November 22, 1963, seconds before the assassination of John F. Kennedy. The Cold Six Thousand begins just minutes later and takes us on a wild, surreal ride through the period of violence, trauma, and civil unrest that followed in the wake of Kennedy's death. Like its predecessor, The Cold Six Thousand is an astonishing book, the largest, most ambitious work to date by our greatest living crime writer.
The story begins when Las Vegas policeman Wayne Tedrow Jr. arrives in Dallas. Kennedy is dead, Oswald is in custody, and turmoil reigns. Wayne arrives bearing $6,000 in bounty money, his fee for the projected execution of fugitive criminal Wendell Durfee. Against a backdrop of escalating chaos, Wayne succeeds in locating Durfee and then permits him to escape, a decision that will haunt him in the years to come. At the same time, he finds himself caught up in the brutal aftermath of the Kennedy killing. In an act of synchronicity that will alter his life, Wayne falls under the influence of two of the assassination's principal conspirators, Pete Bondurant and Ward J. Littell.
Bondurant, a former employee of Howard Hughes, is a pimp, drug dealer, hit man, and extortionist. Littell is a former FBI agent who now works for Jimmy Hoffa and assorted members of the Mob. He is a man driven by massive contradictions and by his increasing desire for personal redemption. Ellroy follows Wayne, Littell, and Bondurant as they make their way -- sometimes in concert, sometimes individually, -- through the twisted history of the 1960s. The sprawling narrative ranges from Dallas to Cuba, from Washington to the Klan-dominated South, from Las Vegas to Vietnam. Along the way, Ellroy illuminates the arcane world of organized crime, the inner workings of the Southeast Asia heroin trade, and the virulent racism that characterized the era. He also examines, in speculative but plausible fashion, the forces he believes responsible for the back-to-back assassinations of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr.
The Cold Six Thousand is told in Ellroy's patented staccato style, a style that delivers huge amounts of information without pausing for breath or wasting a word. With almost effortless authority, Ellroy merges his convoluted fictional scenario with the actual material of modern history. In the process he creates a memorable gallery of real and imagined characters, including such grotesque, stranger-than-fiction figures as the demented, drug-addicted Howard Hughes and the rabid, racist, dictatorial schemer J. Edgar Hoover. The result is an authentically nightmarish vision that transcends the limits of traditional crime fiction, offering us a portrait of our recent past that is disturbing, compelling, convincing, and absolutely impossible to put aside. (Bill Sheehan)
Bill Sheehan reviews horror, suspense, and science fiction for Cemetery Dance, The New York Review of Science Fiction, and other publications. His book-length critical study of the fiction of Peter Straub, At the Foot of the Story Tree, has been published by Subterranean Press (www.subterraneanpress.com).