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Underworld USA 2

Written by James EllroyAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by James Ellroy


List Price: $13.99


On Sale: June 22, 2011
Pages: 688 | ISBN: 978-0-307-79845-9
Published by : Vintage Knopf

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Read by Craig Wasson
On Sale: May 08, 2001
ISBN: 978-0-7393-0041-1
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In this savagely audacious novel, James Ellroy plants a pipe bomb under the America in the 1960s, lights the fuse, and watches the shrapnel fly. On November 22, 1963 three men converge in Dallas. Their job: to clean up the JFK hit’s loose ends and inconvenient witnesses. They are Wayne Tedrow, Jr., a Las Vegas cop with family ties to the lunatic right; Ward J. Littell, a defrocked FBI man turned underworld mouthpiece; and Pete Bondurant, a dope-runner and hit-man who serves as the mob’s emissary to the anti-Castro underground.

It goes bad from there. For the next five years these night-riders run a whirlwind of plots and counter-plots: Howard Hughes’s takeover of Vegas, J. Edgar Hoover’s war against the civil rights movement, the heroin trade in Vietnam, and the murders of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Bobby Kennedy. Wilder than L. A. Confidential, more devastating than American Tabloid, The Cold Six Thousand establishes Ellroy as one of our most fearless novelists.


Chapter 1
Part I
November 22-25, 1963
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¢4?/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.
"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."
"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.
James Ellroy|Author Q&A|Author Desktop

About James Ellroy

James Ellroy - The Cold Six Thousand

Photo © Jennifer Carroll

James Ellroy was born in Los Angeles in 1948. He is the author of the L.A. Quartet: The Black Dahlia, The Big Nowhere, L.A. Confidential, and White Jazz, and the Underworld U.S.A. Trilogy: American Tabloid, The Cold Six Thousand, and Blood’s A Rover. These seven novels have won numerous honors and were international best sellers. Ellroy currently lives in Los Angeles.


James Ellroy is represented by Random House Speakers Bureau (http://www.rhspeakers.com).

Author Q&A

A Conversation with
author of

Q: In the opening paragraph of American Tabloid you write that "America was never innocent." How does this theme further evolve in The Cold Six Thousand?

A: America was founded on a bedrock of land grabs, slavery, religious extremism, colonial ambition, and genocide. The notion that America was innocent prior to Jack Kennedy's murder is preposterous; by the rules he lived by, Jack got what he deserved. He took aid from organized crime during the 1960 election; he repaid the debt by siccing his kid brother Bobby on the Mob at large. He betrayed the Cuban exiles at the Bay of Pigs. He pissed off a hot-headed troika of mobsters, exiles and renegade CIA men involved in the Cuban cause. They whacked him for it. His death derived from the perennial motives of money and turf. It was a gaudy homicide that set the stage for the out-of-control America that I portray in The Cold Six Thousand.

Q: So you really think the Mob called the hits on JFK, Martin Luther King Jr, and Bobby Kennedy?

A: I'm convinced that the Mob, in cahoots with Cuban exile and renegade CIA elements, whacked Jack Kennedy. That said, I'm a novelist -- and my job is the creation of verisimilitude, not the exposition of literal truth. There is no evidence that the Mob whacked King -- and in The Cold Six Thousand, he gets whacked by a cabal of racist provocateurs, ex-FBI men, and right-wing fat cats. I suspect that something like this happened in reality. Again, however, my design is to show the horrible power of like-minded men bent on repression at any cost -- which is true to the flow of history in general and of the 1960s especially. Thus I lie/fabricate/condense/extrapolate/guess/hyperbolize and weave to give you that flow and make it convincing. As for Bobby -- I'm not sure. Maybe Sirhan Sirhan was a lone wacko; maybe he was assisted in his murderous obsession. It comes down to this: The Cold Six Thousand plausibly exposits the time and the place and the mindset of the bad men who made things happen then.

Q: Why did you choose the events of the 1960’s for a look at American cultures? Why is this time period a point of reference and a point of departure for you?

A: I lived through the '60s as a youth. I was not politically conscious or in any recognizable way a kid of my time. I sensed, however, the human infrastructure at the base of the great events transpiring. The Cold Six Thousand covers late 1963 to mid-1968. It is the first time an epic-length novel weaves the major strands of American public policy into a cohesive whole - as seen through the eyes of the bad men implementing policy decisions at street level. The JFK hit; the Klan; the FBI's war on the civil rights movement; CIA men moving heroin out of Vietnam; Howard Hughes' conquest of Las Vegas; the Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy hits. The Cold Six Thousand is a huge canvas - it is the Sistine Chapel of American bad juju.

Q:There's a fine line between the good guys and the bad guys in The Cold Six Thousand -- cons are ex-cops, hit men are ex-FBI, the Justice Department is virtually run by organized crime during J Edgar Hoover's tenure as FBI Director. Do you truly believe that law enforcement is that corrupt? And at such a high level?

A: Organized crime did not run the Justice Department during J. Edgar Hoover's tenure. Hoover - the quintessential 20th-century American fiend -- was the passive handmaid to the Mob's designs. Hoover disingenuously contended that the Mob did not exist because he knew he could not prosecute the Mob and win. Hoover's bete noire -- and the one man he could not break -- was Martin Luther King. The FBI engaged in a campaign of terror and
employed criminal methods to discredit King and the civil rights movement. In the '60s, there was a self-serving matrix of bad men in high places, pledged to support a reactionary agenda. In that sense, the Mob, the FBI, the CIA, rogue politicians and conquest-minded business moguls were all as one under the sheets.

Q: You blend fact and fiction, mingling names and faces of the time period with your own characters. How much of the book is based on fact?

A: The Cold Six Thousand is both solidly factual and wholly fictional. The book is scrupulously researched -- but utterly reimagined from the standpoint of dramatic viability. My greatest assist I got in preparing the book was the outrageousness of the 1960’s itself. Times of great social change are times of great backlash; hellish misadventures like the Vietnam War spawn provocateurs with dark individual agendas. In The Cold Six Thousand, I got to rewrite the 1960s to my own specifications and explicate the human infrastructure I first glimpsed as a youth.

Q: Everyone in The Cold Six Thousand is fatally flawed. Even Martin Luther King, Jr. is portrayed as having a seedy side. Where are the heroes of the 60s?

A: Martin Luther King, the greatest 20th-century American, was a true hero of the 1960s. His promiscuity was directly related to, and served as a counterbalance to, the terror he experienced during his 13-year tenure as a marked man, from the Montgomery Bus Boycott to the time of his death. King's social agenda expanded during the last 2 years of his life -- almost in the manner of a kamikaze attack on American society. He was physically and morally exhausted. His agenda was a shriek of self-martyrdom. He wanted to alienate as much as he wanted to heal. His long transit of courage brought him to the point of calling forth his own death. As for Robert Kennedy: he was the greatest crimefighter of the American 20th century; his anti-Mob crusade was an Oedipal drama once removed. RFK
was the only male Kennedy who admitted to himself what an evil son-of-a-bitch his father was; he went at the Mob as Joseph P. Kennedy's proxy. The spellbinding irony: RFK's Oedipal drama got his brother Jack killed.

Q: What would you say to critics who argue that history shouldn't be the subject of fiction, that making it so is revisionist, even unethical?

A: I would say, "You're wrong." I would say that all allegedly factual historical tomes are filters that express the individual viewpoints and prejudices of the author. There are emotional and moral truths to be taken from history -- and fictional revisions get to the heart of the individual drama inherent in all great events.

Q: Time Magazine describes your writing style as "taut, telegraphic sentences, subject-verb-kablooey!" How did you develop such tight, graphic language?

A: I write novels about the lowest-level implementers of American public policy. The violence in my language is a direct representation of the violence of their lives. A novelist's style should serve his subject matter and transform it into art. To be any less than wholly graphic would be demeaning and wrong. The language of bad men is largely the language of racism; to flinch from using racist invective in the actual narrative of a book would be dishonest and would deny racism its true horrible due. Language, style, narrative drive and characterization are a novelist's basic tools; they must always be deployed to the limits of their power.

Q: What was it like to watch one of your books, LA Confidential, made into a movie?

A: It was a blast. It was a superb movie and it sold me a shitload of books.

Q: Do you have any other books currently in movie production?

A: This July, my novel White Jazz will be filmed on location in Los Angeles. I wrote the screenplay; the director is Robert Richardson; Nick Nolte plays Dave "The Enforcer" Klein; John Cusack plays Junior Stemmons.

Q: Originally, you had promised three books in this series. Is that still the case? If so, can you tell us about the final installment?

A: Yes. American Tabloid is the first volume of my Underworld U.S.A. Trilogy. The Cold Six Thousand is my second. I will soon begin work on the epic third volume -- a ghastly tale of political malfeasance and imperialistic bad juju from 1968-1972.

Author Q&A

On James Ellroy's desktop you can find an audio reading by the author, a dramatis personae of characters in the novel, excerpts from a documentary on Ellroy by filmmaker Vikram Jayanti, and a timeline including some of the novel's fictional "documents."

From the Hardcover edition.



“Ellroy rips into American culture like a chainsaw in an abbatoir. . . . Pick it up if you dare; put it down if you can.” –Time

“A wild ride. . . . An American political underbelly teeming with conspiracy and crime. . . . So hard-boiled you could chip a tooth on it.” –The New York Times Book Review

“A ripping read....the book is pure testosterone.” –The Plain Dealer

“A great and terrible book about a great and terrible time in America.” –The Village Voice

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