Smart Crime Book Reviews: James Ellroy

In addition to the following book reviews, James Ellroy also wrote the L.A. Quartet which includes The Black Dahlia, The Big Nowhere, L.A. Confidential and White Jazz.

The Cold Six Thousand by James EllroyBook Cover of The Cold Six Thousand by James Ellroy

Read by Tracy in December 2011

Tracy recommends as a weak follow up to American Tabloid

The Cold Six Thousand is the second novel in the Underworld USA Trilogy which started with American Tabloid and completes with Blood’s a Rover. I enjoyed American Tabloid, but in The Cold Six Thousand I felt the story starting to wear a bit thin. Ellroy attempts to re-write American history through fiction with just enough facts and conspiracy theories to keep you on the edge. I felt that the Cold Six Thousand lacked the ingenuity, urgency and climatic outcome as American Tabloid and coupled with the strange stacatto writing style of short poaragraphs I struggled in sections. Again this book follows the three men as per the first book and how their relationships are now changing as they try and juggle the government and mafia and keeping just inside the law (if you don't delve too deeply that is). Pete Bondurant is still the heavy man, Littell has moved into a fixer position and obviously Boyd has bit the big one. We are introduced to Wayne Tedrow Jr who is moved into Littell's old role of nerd. The trio are drawn into the cover-up after JFK's assassination and the continuing saga of drugs and Cuba. However, by the end of the novel I felt empty.

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American Tabloid by James EllroyBook Cover of American Tabloid by James Ellroy

Read by Tracy in November 2011

Tracy recommends this book for those looking for an antidote to mindless conspiracy novels. American Tabloid is the first novel in the Underworld USA Trilogy which also includes The Cold Six Thousand and Blood’s a Rover. Wow what a book – it has everything including more conspiracy stories regarding the Kennedy’s than anything I have read before. Written in 1995, American Tabloid documents three rogue law enforcement officers (Pete Bondurant, Kemper Boyd and Ward Littell) from November 1958 to November 1963. The three officers are entangled in a huge web of deceit which involves the FBI, CIA, Howard Hughes, J. Edgar Hoover, the Mafia, Jimmy Hoffa, the Kennedy clan and even to JFK’s assassination, the Cuban crisis and the scourge of communism in American society. The book finds glamour in all the sleaziest places and explores popular culture and how that influences even the highest levels of society. There are so many subplots that interlink that you start to think that maybe it is true or at least has some semblance of truth which is the basis of all good conspiracy theories. I wasn’t even born when Kennedy was assassinated, but I just love reading different theories on the last century’s most infamous murder mystery.

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