It is the day of Jack Kennedy's assassination--Las Vegas cop Wayne Tedrow Jr arrives in Dallas with instructions to arrest a pimp and make sure he does not survive the arrest. By the time James Ellroy's monumental thriller The Cold Six Thousand reaches its climax, Wayne has taken his own private journey into the heart of American corruption, into a cold hell of betrayal, prejudice and paranoia. In staccato sentences, brief paragraphs of narration and stacks of documentation whose essential truthfulness we dread, we learn the truth about the great assassinations of liberal hope, about the inner-city epidemic of heroin addiction, about the war in Vietnam and the American conflict with Cuba. Wayne and others like him--the ageing hit man Bondurant, the fallen, liberal FBI-man Littell--are the weapons through which the likes of Howard Hughes and J Edgar Hoover work their will. This is a convincingly depressing picture of a world in which the worst things you can imagine regularly come true (because there is always someone who will profit by them). It is a nightmare picture of America-as-Hell which sustains dramatic tension from dateline to dateline, from crisis to crisis.