I am not going to lie and say that this was a page turner. It is a big book and at moments it really felt like it. What made life difficult is the patches when the pace seemed to dip.
Set against the true historical events of the Bay of Pigs and the lead up to Kennedy’s assassination the last part does finally get you going as the moment when the fatal shots are fired draws closer.
The characters of the smooth FBI man Boyd, psycho killer Pete and loser Ward are reversed as each suffers a change in fortunes and heart. At the end the only constants are the hatred that Hoover has for anyone threatening his position, the ability of the mob to protect their own and take revenge and the leadership of Castro in Cuba.
Jack Kennedy is portrayed as the best way of hurting Bobby Kennedy and reminding old Joe Kennedy where his loyalties should have been lying.
In a cast that involves walk ons for Frank Sinatra, Peter Lawford and Jack Kennedy this is an America of glamour.
But with the race riots, KKK and the Cuban exiles it is also a divided country ill at ease with itself.
The fact Ellroy gives you that sort of picture as a background to a thriller shows you the ambition with the social observation and the research he has done about this period in history.