Wednesday, October 06, 2010

The Cold Six Thousand

By James Ellroy

Another brilliant Ellroy novel, though this time the brilliance is as hard and cutting as a diamond. 'The Cold Six Thousand' continues the tale begun in 'American Tabloid'. Historically ending with the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jnr and Bobby Kennedy. Two of the three characters from 'American Tabloid' continue in this novel which details their lives through a great many historical events.

Ellroy is unforgiving. His prose is fast, staccato and easy to read but its also unrelenting. Ellroy looks at history and where others see grandeur or greatness, Ellroy sees the darkest, pitiless aspects of humanity and no one is innocent. Such a dark, unrepenting point of view gets a tad wearing after a while. Especially when the topic is one as well known as American history in the 1960's. On the other hand, Ellroy does have a clarity of vision unclouded by the dazzle of fame and political spin. Who is to say if his analysis of history is right or wrong?

What ever it is, and how ever much it leans up against history, this novel is still a work of fiction, and as story telling its lacking in something which has been present in all the previous books I've read by Ellroy. I think whats happened with this book is Ellroy did such a good job with the previous story that he couldn't stop and with the 'Cold Six Thousand' he got some what long winded. I understand that the final book in the trilogy also took a long time to write, and this is unsurprising. I'm hoping that the long wait rekindled the fire though because Ellroy is king of crime fiction in my mind and although I found this book to be too long, I still recognise its brilliance. I'd like to give it four stars but it just wasn't as good as 'American Tabloid'.

I've labelled this as noir, though strictly speaking its more like historical crime fiction.

No comments: