Cover image for The cold six thousand
The cold six thousand
Ellroy, James, 1948-
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Knopf, 2001.
Physical Description:
669 pages ; 25 cm
General Note:
"This is a Borzoi book"--T.p. verso.
Format :


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Material Type
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X Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks
X Adult Fiction Open Shelf
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The Black Dahlia,The Big Nowhere,L.A. Confidential,White Jazz,American Tabloid... James Ellroy's high-velocity, best-selling novels have redefined noir for our age, propelling us within inches of the dark realities of America's recent history. Now, inThe Cold Six Thousand, his most ambitious and explosive novel yet, he puts the whole of the 1960s under his blistering lens. The result is a work of fierce, epic fiction, a speedball through our most tumultuous time. It begins in Dallas. November 22, 1963. The heart of the American Dream detonated. Wayne Tedrow Jr., a young Vegas cop, arrives with a loathsome job to do. He's got $6,000 in cash and no idea that he is about to plunge into the cover-up conspiracy already brewing around Kennedy's assassination, no idea that this will mark the beginning of a hellish five-year ride through the private underbelly of public policy. Ellroy's furiously paced narrative tracks Tedrow's ride: Dallas back to Vegas, with the Mob and Howard Hughes, south with the Klan and J. Edgar Hoover, shipping out to Vietnam and returning home, the bearer of white powder, plotting new deaths as 1968 approaches ... Tedrow stands witness, as the icons of an iconic era mingle with cops, killers, hoods, and provocateurs. His story is ground zero in Ellroy's stunning vision: historical confluence as American Nightmare. The Cold Six Thousandis a masterpiece.

Author Notes

James Ellroy was born in Los Angeles in 1948. His L. A. Quartet novels - "The Black Dahlia", "The Big Nowhere", "L. A. Confidential", & "White Jazz" - were international best-sellers. His novel "American Tabloid" was Time magazine's Novel of the Year for 1995; his memoir, "My Dark Places", was a "Time" Best Book of the Year & a "New Yorker Times" Notable Book for 1996. He lives in Kansas City.

(Publisher Provided) James Ellroy was born in Los Angeles, California on March 4, 1948. His parents were divorced and he moved in with his father after his mother was murdered in 1958. The story of his mother's unsolved murder would become the basis for his 1996 nonfiction work entitled My Dark Places. He attended Fairfax High School, where he sent Nazi pamphlets to girls he liked and criticized JFK, while advocating the reinstatement of slavery. He was eventually expelled for preaching Nazism in his English class.

He joined the army after his expulsion from school, but after realizing that he did not belong there, he faked a stutter and convinced the army psychologist that he was not mentally fit for combat. After three months, he received a dishonorable discharge and returned home. His father died soon thereafter. He was thrown in juvenile hall for stealing a steak from the local market. When he got out, his father's friend became his guardian, but by the age of eighteen, he was back on the streets. He was sleeping outside, stealing, drinking and experimenting with drugs. It wasn't long before he was thrown in jail for breaking into a vacant apartment.

When he got out of jail, he started a job at an adult book store, his addictions growing progressively larger. He was misusing the drug Benzedrex, a sinus inhalent which nearly drove him to Schizophrenia and his drinking was ruining his health. He contracted pneumonia twice as well as a condition called post-alchohol brain syndrome. Fearing for his sanity, he joined AA, became sober and found a job as a golf caddy.

At the age of 30, he wrote his first novel entitled Brown's Requiem, which was published in 1981. His other works include Clandestine, Blood on the Moon, Because the Night, Suicide Hill, Killer on the Road, and The Cold Six Thousand. His works The Black Dahlia and L. A. Confidential were adapted into feature films.

Ellroy's title, Perfidia, made the New York Times bestseller list in 2014.


Reviews 3

Booklist Review

If American Tabloid (1995) was Ellroy's Ulysses, then The Cold Six Thousand is his Finnegans Wake. The earlier novel used the author's signature staccato style to forge a groundbreaking exploration of the early 1960s and the events leading up to the assassination of JFK from the multiple points of view of a group of underworld foot soldiers. Now he takes the story through the escalation in Vietnam and the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy. As the chaos in the country swirls out of control, so Ellroy's always edgy style ratchets up several notches beyond mere staccato, attempting to mirror the drug-addled, variously obsessed compulsions of his lowlife players with a hallucinogenic, rapid-fire repetition of subject-verb-object: "Pete shook his head. Pete pulled his silencer. Pete tapped his piece." It goes on like that for nearly 700 pages, the simple sentences building to a throbbing crescendo, like a three-chord rock song pounding its way into your brain. The action reverberates around three characters, two familiar from the earlier novel: Pete Bondurant, a stone-cold killer with a fondness for cats and an idealistic devotion to the anti-Castro cause; Ward Littell, a Kennedy loyalist turned Mob lawyer who somehow always helps kill the ones he loves, whether girlfriends or presidents; and Wayne Tedrow Jr., the new player, who is paid $6,000 to fly to Dallas on November 23, 1963, and kill a black pimp. That simple if unsavory task throws the naive Tedrow into a quicksand of sleaze that eventually finds him in Vietnam smuggling heroin and, later, outside a Memphis motel making sure a fall-guy named James Earle Ray does his job. Behind it all, orchestrating the action, is perhaps the most fascinating character in the story: J. Edgar Hoover, whose voice we hear only in memos and phone-conversation transcripts. Like Milton's Satan, Hoover emerges as utterly evil and utterly compelling. If it is hard to make sense of the '60s, it is equally hard to make sense of this novel. As an experiment in form and content, in style as a metaphor for meaning, it is ambitious and often brilliant; like the decade, however, it is also an exercise in glorious excess. By reinventing language, Finnegans Wake became unreadable; by re-creating the psychic turmoil of the '60s, The Cold Six Thousand makes reading unbearable. --Bill Ott

Publisher's Weekly Review

Clipped, stylized, hard-nosed and repetitive, this novel cuts like a dark, 24-hour Beat poem and sounds like Jack Webb on crack. Ellroy's latest noir tale is full of his trademark violence, sex and rough language. Readers follow five years in the life of Las Vegas police officer Wayne Tedrow Jr., who begins the novel making a trip to Dallas to kill a pimp for $6,000. From there, Tedrow is inadvertently mixed up with practically every cultural and political event and figure of the 1960s: Vietnam, Cuba, the Kennedy assassinations, Oswald, Ruby, Sirhan Sirhan, James Earl Ray, Sonny Liston, mobster Carlos Marcellos, Martin Luther King Jr. and J. Edgar Hoover. Craig Wasson does an excellent job of translating the written page into a day-length rap of short phrases, peppering listeners with rapid cuts and jabs until they are exhausted yet exhilarated. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Ellroy's latest novel looks at the dark side of American life during the 1960s, focusing on a Las Vegas police officer, Wayne Tedrow Jr., and his inadvertent role in the cover-up of John F. Kennedy's assassination. The narrative spans a five-year period and traces Tedrow's dealings with the Mafia, the Ku Klux Klan, and various political and cultural icons of that time period. Ellroy's fast-paced tale takes the reader on a breathtaking ride through the underbelly of America. It is readable yet complex in its character development and critical examination of U.S. public policy. Like most of Ellroy's works among them L.A. Confidential and The Crime Wave it is graphic in its description of violence and should be reserved for a mature audience. Recommended for public and academic libraries. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 1/01.] Thomas Auger, Georgia Inst. of Technology, Atlanta (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Chapter 1 Part I EXTRADITION November 22-25, 1963 1 Wayne Tedrow Jr. (Dallas, 11/22/63) They sent him to Dallas to kill a nigger pimp named Wendell Durfee. He wasn't sure he could do it. The Casino Operators Council flew him. They supplied first-class fare. They tapped their slush fund. They greased him. They fed him six cold. Nobody said it: Kill that coon. Do it good. Take our hit fee. The flight ran smooth. A stew served drinks. She saw his gun. She played up. She asked dumb questions. He said he worked Vegas PD. He ran the intel squad. He built files and logged information. She loved it. She swooned. "Hon, what you doin' in Dallas?" He told her. A Negro shivved a twenty-one dealer. The dealer lost an eye. The Negro booked to Big D. She loved it. She brought him highballs. He omitted details. The dealer provoked the attack. The council issued the contract-death for ADW Two. The preflight pep talk. Lieutenant Buddy Fritsch: "I don't have to tell you what we expect, son. And I don't have to add that your father expects it, too." The stew played geisha girl. The stew fluffed her beehive. "What's your name?" "Wayne Tedrow." She whooped. "You just have to be Junior!" He looked through her. He doodled. He yawned. She fawned. She just loooooved his daddy. He flew with her oodles. She knew he was a Mormon wheel. She'd looove to know more. Wayne laid out Wayne Senior. He ran a kitchen-help union. He rigged low pay. He had coin. He had pull. He pushed right-wing tracts. He hobnobbed with fat cats. He knew J. Edgar Hoover. The pilot hit the intercom. Dallas-on time. The stew fluffed her hair. "I'll bet you're staying at the Adolphus." Wayne cinched his seat belt. "What makes you say that?" "Well, your daddy told me he always stays there." "I'm staying there. Nobody consulted me, but that's where they've got me booked." The stew hunkered down. Her skirt slid. Her garter belt gapped. "Your daddy told me they've got a nice little restaurant right there in the hotel, and, well . . ." The plane hit rough air. Wayne caught it low. He broke a sweat. He shut his eyes. He saw Wendell Durfee. The stew touched him. Wayne opened his eyes. He saw her hickeys. He saw her bad teeth. He smelled her shampoo. "You were looking a little scared there, Wayne Junior." "Junior" tore it. "Leave me alone. I'm not what you want, and I don't cheat on my wife." 1:50 p.m. They touched down. Wayne got off first. Wayne stamped blood back into his legs. He walked to the terminal. Schoolgirls blocked the gate. One girl cried. One girl fucked with prayer beads. He stepped around them. He followed baggage signs. People walked past him. They looked sucker-punched. Red eyes. Boo-hoo. Women with Kleenex. Wayne stopped at baggage claim. Kids whizzed by. They shot cap pistols. They laughed. A man walked up-Joe Redneck-tall and fat. He wore a Stetson. He wore big boots. He wore a mother-of-pearl .45. "If you're Sergeant Tedrow, I'm Officer Maynard D. Moore of the Dallas Police Department." They shook hands. Moore chewed tobacco. Moore wore cheap cologne. A woman walked by-boo-hoo-hoo-one big red nose. Wayne said, "What's wrong?" Moore smiled. "Some kook shot the President." Most shops closed early. State flags flew low. Some folks flew rebel flags upright. Moore drove Wayne in. Moore had a plan: Run by the hotel/get you set in/find us that jigaboo. John F. Kennedy-dead. His wife's crush. His stepmom's fixation. JFK got Janice wet. Janice told Wayne Senior. Janice paid. Janice limped. Janice showed off the welts on her thighs. Dead was dead. He couldn't grab it. He fumbled the rebounds. Moore chewed Red Man. Moore shot juice out his window. Gunshots overlapped. Joyous shit in the boonies. Moore said, "Some people ain't so sad." Wayne shrugged. They passed a billboard-JFK and the UN. "You sure ain't sayin' much. I got to say that so far, you ain't the most lively extradition partner I ever had." A gun went off. Close. Wayne grabbed his holster. "Whoo! You got a case of the yips, boy!" Wayne futzed with his necktie. "I just want to get this over with." Moore ran a red light. "In good time. I don't doubt that Mr. Durfee'll be sayin' hi to our fallen hero before too long." Wayne rolled up his window. Wayne trapped in Moore's cologne. Moore said, "I been to Lost Wages quite a few times. In fact, I owe a big marker at the Dunes this very moment." Wayne shrugged. They passed a bus bench. A colored girl sobbed. "I heard of your daddy, too. I heard he's quite the boy in Nevada." A truck ran a red. The driver waved a beer and revolver. "Lots of people know my father. They all tell me they know him, and it gets old pretty quick." Moore smiled. "Hey, I think I detect a pulse there." Motorcade confetti. A window sign: Big D loves Jack & Jackie. "I heard about you, too. I heard you got leanings your daddy don't much care for." "For instance?" "Let's try nigger lover. Let's try you chauffeur Sonny Liston around when he comes to Vegas, 'cause the PD's afraid he'll get himself in trouble with liquor and white women, and you like him, but you don't like the nice Italian folks who keep your little town clean." The car hit a pothole. Wayne hit the dash. Moore stared at Wayne. Wayne stared back. They held the stare. Moore ran a red. Wayne blinked first. Moore winked. "We're gonna have big fun this weekend." The lobby was swank. The carpets ran thick. Men snagged their boot heels. People pointed outside-look look look-the motorcade passed the hotel. JFK drove by. JFK waved. JFK bought it close by. People talked. Strangers braced strangers. The men wore western suits. The women dressed faux-Jackie. Check-ins swamped the desk. Moore ad-libbed. Moore walked Wayne to the bar. SRO-big barside numbers. A TV sat on a table. A barman goosed the sound. Moore shoved up to a phone booth. Wayne scoped the TV out. Folks jabbered. The men wore hats. Everyone wore boots and high heels. Wayne stood on his toes. Wayne popped over hat brims. The picture jumped and settled in. Sound static and confusion. Cops. A thin punk. Words: "Oswald"/"weapon"/"Red sympath-" A guy waved a rifle. Newsmen pressed in. A camera panned. There's the punk. He's showing fear and contusions. The noise was bad. The smoke was thick. Wayne lost his legs. A man raised a toast. "Oughta give Oswald a-" Wayne stood down. A woman jostled him-wet cheeks and runny mascara. Wayne walked to the phone booth. Moore had the door cracked. He said, "Guy, listen now." He said, "Wet-nursing some kid on some bullshit extradition-" "Bullshit" tore it. Wayne jabbed Moore. Moore swung around. His pant legs hiked up. Fuck-knives in his boot tops. Brass knucks in one sock. Wayne said, "Wendell Durfee, remember?" Moore stood up. Moore got magnetized. Wayne tracked his eyes. He caught the TV. He caught a caption. He caught a still shot: "Slain Officer J. D. Tippit." Moore stared. Moore trembled. Moore shook. Wayne said, "Wendell Durf-" Moore shoved him. Moore ran outside. - - - The council booked him a biggg suite. A bellboy supplied history. JFK loved the suite. JFK fucked women there. Ava Gardner blew him on the terrace. Two sitting rooms. Two bedrooms. Three TVs. Slush funds. Six cold. Kill that nigger, boy. Wayne toured the suite. History lives. JFK loved Dallas quail. He turned the TVs on. He tuned in three channels. He caught the show three ways. He walked between sets. He nailed the story. The punk was Lee Harvey Oswald. The punk shot JFK and Tippit. Tippit worked Dallas PD. DPD was tight-knit. Moore probably knew him. Oswald was pro-Red. Oswald loved Fidel. Oswald worked at a schoolbook plant. Oswald clipped the Prez on his lunch break. DPD had him. Their HQ teemed. Cops. Reporters. Camera hogs all. Wayne flopped on a couch. Wayne shut his eyes. Wayne saw Wendell Durfee. Wayne opened his eyes. Wayne saw Lee Oswald. He killed the sound. He pulled his wallet pix. There's his mother-back in Peru, Indiana. She left Wayne Senior. Late '47. Wayne Senior hit her. He broke bones sometimes. She asked Wayne who he loved most. He said, "My dad." She slapped him. She cried. She apologized. The slap tore it. He went with Wayne Senior. He called his mother-May '54-he called en route to the Army. She said, "Don't fight in silly wars." She said, "Don't hate like Wayne Senior." He cut her off. Binding/permanent/4-ever. There's his stepmom: Wayne Senior ditched Wayne's mom. Wayne Senior wooed Janice. Wayne Senior brought Wayne along. Wayne was thirteen. Wayne was horny. Wayne dug on Janice. Janice Lukens Tedrow made rooms tilt. She played indolent wife. She played scratch golf. She played A-club tennis. Wayne Senior feared her spark. She watched Wayne grow up. She torched reciprocal. She left her doors open. She invited looks. Wayne Senior knew it. Wayne Senior didn't care. There's his wife: Lynette Sproul Tedrow. Perched in his lap. Grad night at Brigham Young. He's shell-shocked. He got his chem degree-BYU/'59-summa cum laude. He craved action. He joined Vegas PD. Fuck summa cum laude. He met Lynette in Little Rock. Fall '57. Central High desegregates. Rednecks. Colored kids. The Eighty-Second Airborne. Some white boys prowl. Some white boys snatch a colored boy's sandwich. Lynette hands him hers. The white boys attack. Corporal Wayne Tedrow Jr. counters. He beats them down. He spears one fuck. The fuck screams, "Mommy!" Lynette hits on Wayne. She's seventeen. He's twenty-three. He's got some college. They fucked on a golf course. Sprinklers doused them. He told Janice all. She said, "You and Lynette peaked early. And you probably liked the fight as much as the sex." Janice knew him. Janice had the home-court advantage. Wayne looked out a window. TV crews roamed. News vans double-parked. He walked through the suite. He turned off the TVs. Three Oswalds vanished. He pulled his file. All carbons: LVPD/Dallas County Sheriff's. Durfee, Wendell (NMI). Male Negro/DOB 6-6-27/Clark County, Nevada. 6¬Ę4?/155. Pander beefs-3/44 up. "Well-known dice-game habitue." No busts outside Vegas and Dallas. "Known to drive Cadillacs." "Known to wear flamboyant attire." "Known to have fathered 13 children out of wedlock." "Known to pander Negro women, white women, male homosexuals & Mexican transvestites." Twenty-two pimp busts. Fourteen convictions. Nine child-support liens. Five bail jumps. Cop notes: Wendell's smart/Wendell's dumb/Wendell cut that cat at Binion's. The cat was mobbed up. The cat shanked Wendell first. The council set policy. The LVPD enforced it. "Known Dallas County Associates": Marvin Duquesne Settle/male Negro/Texas State custody. Fenton "Duke" Price/male Negro/Texas State custody. Alfonzo John Jefferson/male Negro/4219 Wilmington Road, Dallas 8, Tex. "Gambling partner of Wendell Durfee." County Probation: (Stat. 92.04 Tex. St. Code) 9/14/60-9/14/65. Employed: Dr Pepper Bottling Plant. Note: "Subject to make fine payments for term of probation, i.e.: every 3rd Friday (Dr Pepper payday) County Prob Off." Donnell George Lundy/male Negro/Texas State custody. Manuel "Bobo" Herrara/male Mexican/Texas State custody. The phone rang. Wayne grabbed it. "Yeah?" "It's me, son. Your new best buddy." Wayne grabbed his holster. "Where are you?" "Right now I'm noplace worth bein'. But you meet me at eight o'clock." "Where?" "The Carousel Club. You be there, and we'll find us that burrhead." Wayne hung up. Wayne got butterflies. Wendell, I don't want to kill you. Excerpted from The Cold Six Thousand by James Ellroy All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.