Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Review: "The Cold Six Thousand" by James Ellroy

When the reviewer called this book the Finnegan’s Wake of crime novels, they really weren’t completely off base. While it is not as scattered and confusing as that novel (nothing is), James Ellroy’s The Cold Six Thousand is still a hard novel to follow that really acts on a purely emotional and aesthetic level and not so much narrative as an experience. It is also a novel that would be really cool in audio form because of its direct, almost aggressive prose style and many different character voices. But even though it seems to be written and acts on an emotional level, it is very hard to be invested in what is happening around the three main characters, not the least of which is because you don’t have a clear idea of the action. But on a sentence-by-sentence basis, this is a very memorable book, easily quotable, with many phrases that will stick to the tip of your tongue. It follows two of the three main characters from the first book in the Underworld USA trilogy, and begins right after JFK’s assassination. Ellroy does a great job with explaining the darker side of history, even if it isn’t quite as true or as downbeat as he would like us to think. Wayne, a crooked cop on the tail of a ruthless pimp, Ward, a sleazy lawyer, and Pete, a hit man with ties to violent revolutionaries who finds himself in the jungles of Vietnam. All three act as unseen architects to the kind of history lesson we weren’t supposed to learn. This is a violent book, filled with violence that begins and ends quickly, leaving the reader breathless, but unchanged in emotion or feeling. It is still a cool book for conspiracy buffs whose view of things is a little more skewed than the rest of us.
Rating: 4/5

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