I read the first third with so-so but hopeful interest and a mounting headache, then, unable to take anymore but still wanting to know what happens, I skimmed through to the last fourth and read that, which gave me the gist of the story and the outcomes for principal characters. There's a good novel here and a few great scenes, but Ellroy's hard-boiled style and signature staccato sentences mostly felt forced and routinely maddened; as my daughter used to say about frustrating reads: "This is making my eyes orange."
As I've said before and will no doubt say again, American Tabloid is brilliant, but this one just did not engage or impress me. I think the difference, in a word, is finesse. Anything that's exceptionally well done, even the hard-boiled crime novel, is a matter of finesse. I started American Tabloid thinking, whoa!, what's going on, does this guy know what he's doing.
And indeed he did. The first time you read Ellroy the rhythm takes some getting used to, but inside of 25 pages of American Tabloid I was following right along, never missing a beat. A few passages of Cold Six got me grooving, but never enough to sustain the momentum.