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The Black Dahlia (L.A. Quartet #1)

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

The Black Dahlia- L.A. Quartet #1

This is the first James Ellroy novel I have read and I am 100% sure that it's not my last. The Black Dahlia is the first in his LA Quartet, and I haven;t read the other three novels in the Quartet yet, but The Black Dahlia is a MASTERPIECE. I rarely give this title to...
This is the first James Ellroy novel I have read and I am 100% sure that it's not my last. The Black Dahlia is the first in his LA Quartet, and I haven;t read the other three novels in the Quartet yet, but The Black Dahlia is a MASTERPIECE. I rarely give this title to books, but the Black Dahlia deserves it. Characters, prose, dialogue, plot, all of these aspects of a crime/mystery novel are tip-top. As the characters fall into madness over the investigation into the grisly murder of Elizabeth Short, I felt what they were feeling and became obsessed in the novel. Ellroy's writing style is what achieves this. This is not a large novel, it's about average size i would say, but it has the pacing of an epic and gave off the feeling that I had known these people for a much longer time. Ellroy packs so much information and story in just a single page and he does this with his short, punchy prose that jumps right off the page. The Black Dahlia is a masterpiece in all of literature, just be warned: this book will make you made with the desire to read more.

P.S. This book is also very violent, almost to the level of Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy, not that that is a problem with me because both of these books are masterpieces. Enjoy.

posted by McCarthy92 on May 25, 2011

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Most Helpful Critical Review

2 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

Black Dahlia, eh...

Well, first off, I'll come clean... As it is stated in my title, this review is basically for an English credit, so don't expect anything amazing. Now, the purpose you are reading this review, what I thought about 'The Black Dahlia'. The book was very captiva...
Well, first off, I'll come clean... As it is stated in my title, this review is basically for an English credit, so don't expect anything amazing. Now, the purpose you are reading this review, what I thought about 'The Black Dahlia'. The book was very captivating, don't get me wrong. Once I picked it up, I couldn't put it down, but the book as a whole wasn't quite what I thought it would be. In parts, it just seemed to drag on. For me, it started off slow. It was really kind of annoying. It is set in L.A. in a gang war. You learn right off the bat that the two cops you are reading about are both crooked. There are a couple times where it seems as though they would redeem themselves, but soon after that they would screw everything up again. The book seemed like a crude mixture of a porno and a shoot 'em up. The sex in the book goes into extreme detail, which I'm sure some wouldn't mind, but none the less, its not necessary. It's almost as if it would just randomly have a sex scene to keep the less intense readers interested. The shoot out scenes in the book are needed, but very graphic as well. This book is deffinetly not a book for those with even somewhat of a weak stomache. There are times where I felt like throwing up a lung, times where I felt like a pervert, and times where I felt like a detective. Where I'm going with this is the fact that Ellroy does an excellent job of making you feel like the main character, 'Bucky Bleichert'. Everything he does, it makes you feel just as scummy and gross as he claims to feel every so often. Over all, the book is a good read, at least worthy enough to keep you busy until the next Harry Potter book, or what ever other mainstream read you are looking forward to coming out. The book is full of loop holes and Red Herrings, enough to keep you interested long enough to finish the book. I wouldn't read it again, but I'm glad I ended up reading it just so I know exactly how much I don't want to be a cop in L.A, or live there, or visit, or talk about, or watch about on T.V., or see pictures of, you get the picture.

posted by Anonymous on October 24, 2006

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  • Posted May 25, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    The Black Dahlia- L.A. Quartet #1

    This is the first James Ellroy novel I have read and I am 100% sure that it's not my last. The Black Dahlia is the first in his LA Quartet, and I haven;t read the other three novels in the Quartet yet, but The Black Dahlia is a MASTERPIECE. I rarely give this title to books, but the Black Dahlia deserves it. Characters, prose, dialogue, plot, all of these aspects of a crime/mystery novel are tip-top. As the characters fall into madness over the investigation into the grisly murder of Elizabeth Short, I felt what they were feeling and became obsessed in the novel. Ellroy's writing style is what achieves this. This is not a large novel, it's about average size i would say, but it has the pacing of an epic and gave off the feeling that I had known these people for a much longer time. Ellroy packs so much information and story in just a single page and he does this with his short, punchy prose that jumps right off the page. The Black Dahlia is a masterpiece in all of literature, just be warned: this book will make you made with the desire to read more.

    P.S. This book is also very violent, almost to the level of Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy, not that that is a problem with me because both of these books are masterpieces. Enjoy.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 24, 2006

    Black Dahlia, eh...

    Well, first off, I'll come clean... As it is stated in my title, this review is basically for an English credit, so don't expect anything amazing. Now, the purpose you are reading this review, what I thought about 'The Black Dahlia'. The book was very captivating, don't get me wrong. Once I picked it up, I couldn't put it down, but the book as a whole wasn't quite what I thought it would be. In parts, it just seemed to drag on. For me, it started off slow. It was really kind of annoying. It is set in L.A. in a gang war. You learn right off the bat that the two cops you are reading about are both crooked. There are a couple times where it seems as though they would redeem themselves, but soon after that they would screw everything up again. The book seemed like a crude mixture of a porno and a shoot 'em up. The sex in the book goes into extreme detail, which I'm sure some wouldn't mind, but none the less, its not necessary. It's almost as if it would just randomly have a sex scene to keep the less intense readers interested. The shoot out scenes in the book are needed, but very graphic as well. This book is deffinetly not a book for those with even somewhat of a weak stomache. There are times where I felt like throwing up a lung, times where I felt like a pervert, and times where I felt like a detective. Where I'm going with this is the fact that Ellroy does an excellent job of making you feel like the main character, 'Bucky Bleichert'. Everything he does, it makes you feel just as scummy and gross as he claims to feel every so often. Over all, the book is a good read, at least worthy enough to keep you busy until the next Harry Potter book, or what ever other mainstream read you are looking forward to coming out. The book is full of loop holes and Red Herrings, enough to keep you interested long enough to finish the book. I wouldn't read it again, but I'm glad I ended up reading it just so I know exactly how much I don't want to be a cop in L.A, or live there, or visit, or talk about, or watch about on T.V., or see pictures of, you get the picture.

    2 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 14, 2005

    Gritty and Great

    What a great book. The author writes about atrocities and depravity with a calm certainty that makes them, somehow, worse. And this is a good thing a marvelously crafted book.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 26, 2002

    Situational Irony Reveals Theme

    People are not always what you would expect them to be; In "The Black Dahlia," by James Ellroy, many characters turn out to be much different from the initial expectations. The novel is based on the true story of the gruesome murder of Elizabeth Short on January 15, 1947. This unsolved murder became more commonly called the famous case of the Black Dahlia. The main character is Bucky Bleichert, a former boxer and now Warrants Officer for the Los Angeles Police Department. Bleichert and his partner become obsessed with uncovering every detail of the life of the Black Dahlia. The plot is constantly twisting and turning, leaving the reader waiting for more. <P> Ellroy's use of situational irony enables the characters to be ever-changing, and keep the reader guessing. Characters that were thought to be virtuous and honorable, have their true identity revealed as being corrupt. Bucky learns not to trust people because he is never sure of what their true intentions really are. Even his love, Kay, has many secrets which she keeps away from him. This book shows the horrors of postwar Hollywood, the realities of prostitution, man's obsession with sex, and it also contains repulsive and gory detail. The reader, along with Bucky Bleichert, becomes obsessed with the Dahlia and is not able to put the book down until all loose ends are tied up. Although an extremely dark book, it is also engaging.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 19, 2007

    DAHlia

    James Ellroy made the story of The Black Dahlia even more epic than it had been in past times. I think Ellroy presents an effective writing style. He combines factual events with fictional characters. The strengths of the novel were the detail and excitment the weaknesses being a dull start. I would recommed this book to anyone that enjoys law. It looks over many aspects of the case and the brutal rivalry of cops. Overall, the book was interesting and suspensful.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 23, 2002

    Good book...but NOT about the Black Dahlia

    James Ellroy is unquestionably a great writer and this book is one of his best, but don't make the mistake I made in reading this book to learn about the infamous Black Dahlia murder. Ellory uses the murder only as a backdrop to tell a story of two L.A. cops and police corruption in the '40s. It's really a shame this book is called 'The Black Dahlia', but one wonders if it would have been as successful if it had been called 'Bucky & Lee.' What little the reader learns about the Dahlia (aka Elizabeth Short) all pretty much comes out of Ellroy's feverish imagination. To be fair, Ellroy wrote this book back before much was really known about Elizabeth Short, including the critical piece of information that she was incapable of sexual intercourse (so much for Ellory's 'she had it coming because she was a whore' theme). Still, it's a powerful book and one I'd recommend as a police drama. But for the facts of the case (and if you, like me, think the story of the victim is more interesting than the story of the detective investigating the case) I'd recommend SEVERED: THE TRUE STORY OF THE BLACK DAHLIA MURDER by John Gilmore or CHILDHOOD SHADOWS by Mary Pacios (SEVERED being the better of the two books in my opinion). And please, Hollywood, don't use the Ellroy book when you finally get around to making a Black Dahlia movie. She deserves better.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 19, 2013

    This is my second book by James Ellroy.......

    After L.A. Confidential. Two of the best books in this genre that I have ever read. The plot and character development during the course of the book surpasses almost every author I enjoy. I will "read him out".

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  • Posted May 16, 2012

    Great on many levels

    Even if crime/detective fiction is not your thing you will enjoy this book. Ellroy's prose is addicting, and the characters will infect your life. This was my first Ellroy book, and I am moving on to the rest. You wont regret picking this one up.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 24, 2012

    Amazing

    The ending will take your breath away!

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  • Posted March 13, 2011

    vhfghbvvvb

    my mom loved this book she told me that it didnt lack in detail

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 5, 2010

    Brutal and Compelling

    I must say, first of all, that this is a FICTIONAL book - people looking to learn about the real Black Dahlia should not be looking in the fiction section!

    Some readers may find Ellroy's narrative style off-putting, but he reads in old noir-film dialect, which makes the book seem even more authentic. Ellroy does a masterful job setting the scene, not only with descriptors, and fantastic scene settings, but also using the vernacular of the era.

    Another aspect Ellroy excels in is his character development. In some books, it is good for the narrator, and thus the reader, to be omniscient. In this book, we are introduced to the characters and gradually find out more about them as the primary character, Bucky Bleichert, does.

    The book is not a fairy tale. If you're looking for a satisfactory ending, you'll only be partially satisfied. All the ends are tied up, but not always to everyone's liking. As to some of the plot action, steel yourself; gruesome. In action and detail. I almost put the book down after the first seven chapters, but after a few more, I had to find out how it ended - the twists are incredible!

    There are times you feel like a voyeur and times when you feel like a detective. It is not a book that will leave you feeling warm and fuzzy - but give it past the first few chapters and you will be compelled to finish it!

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  • Posted November 3, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Fantastic

    I only read this book because I heard an interview with James Ellroy and was fascinated by him. I am so glad that I heard that interview. This is one of the best books I have read in quite some time. Plenty of twists and turns in the plot keep those pages turning.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 20, 2007

    Looking for dark and really weird...

    When I'm depressed or am looking for inspiration to write a crime drama, I plop 'This is Hardcore' by Pulp in the record player and re-read 'The Black Dahlia.' This book is very dense and very complex, as I learned on my first go around, but it is also a rewarding book without a true end, like the crime itself. Nothing is satisfying and everybody is flawed almost to the point of being a villian. Bucky Bleichart and Lee Blanchard aren't so much characters as set peices in and of themselves, but their relationship with Kay is a little bit staggering and sort of off puts the novel by trying to inject some humanity and is the weak point of the novel. This is certainly Elroys best book and should be read by anybody who enjoys wallowing in an unsolved and indeed unsolveable murder.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 12, 2006

    A outstanding work of genius

    In this story the reader is led to believe some things about the characters in the story, but not all is what it seems. This book is a must reed for every murder mystery buff. This book will have you turning pages for hours, until there is nothing left to turn.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 23, 2006

    An adult understanding book

    I thought that the Black Dahlia would be good for a grown up who nows about wrestling and cops because in the book there is wrestling and cop slian that was difficult to understand Also the book is very choopy in the way that it jumps from place to place

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 25, 2006

    An interesting read

    The Black Dahlia was, in my opinion, a good story that could have had a slightly better narrative. Ellroys writing style was lacking as far as description is concerned. character descriptions where made minimal and the reader is left to invent character details on there own. Although this is not necesarilly a bad thing I personally tend to require more description in my characters so that in my mind I see a character that is accuratelty assembled. During the course of reading this book my conception of the main characters physical makeup was constantly being altered. One thing that I feel Ellroy did a good job with was the overall mood and setting of such places like LA and TJ. after reading this book I have a firmly set map of all the locations mentioned in this book. what Ellroy lacks in character detail, she makes up for with expliciate location details. The mood in this book is that LA is a dirty scary place where everyone is either a drug addict, dealer, or a failed detox case. Nobodys a virgin, everyones a criminal, and even if your not a hooker your still a whore. There is seemingly no good people left in the world. I found the plot to be excellent. I loved the way Ellroy linked together evidence so that the reader slowly made connections and perdictions in there own mind which more often than not turned out wrong but the results were stunning. All in all i thought The Black Dahlia was an excellent book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 18, 2006

    Does not live up to the hype.

    This is the only James Elroy novel I have read and I hope it to remain that way. If reading this book hadn't been for academic purposes I would've put it down long before its unrealistic conclusion. Unfortunately if I had left this book unfinished I wouldn¿t be as disappointed as now. What bothered me the most would be James Ellroys failure to create any connection with his characters. I could care less if they were all tortured and sliced in two. Books in my opinion are more entertaining and mentally-stimulating when I care what the characters are going through and what happens to said characters. Maybe that is just Ellroys style, but it definitely kept me from enjoying this novel. Of course there is no such thing as an objective viewpoint and I am blatantly card stacking my opinions. It is unfair of me to not mention the aspects of this novel that were enjoyable for me to read. It is undeniable that he has a great talent for describing and visualizing the setting for the late nineteen-forties in California. Overall I feel cheated, with such a title I expected a bit more depth on The Black Dahlia. If the Dahlia was a MacGuffin we would still have the same feeling at the end of the novel. In short I did not like the book, I would not recommend it and I want to thank you for reading my review. -Jeremy Roach

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 7, 2006

    WHAT A BOOK!!!

    I don't care what anyone says about this book, it had everything! The settings the story the characters and IT DOES involve the Black Dahlia! If you want a book that is not predictable and has twists all along the way and you like that, this book is for you!

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  • Posted February 2, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    EXPERT READING OF A NOIR TALE

    Everyone loves a mystery, especially when the setting is glamorous, the characters edgy, and the plot well crafted. So, sit back and get ready to enjoy The Black Dahlia, an international bestseller along with James Ellroy's other L.A. Quartet novels, The Big Nowhere, L.A. Confidential, and White Jazz. This novel is based on an actual event, the unsolved murder of an aspiring young actress, Elizabeth Short, in 1947. This was not just any slaying - she was a beautiful young woman whose killing was especially gruesome. Many were haunted by her death and began calling her The Black Dahlia. Two men were more than deeply affected by the crime - detectives Bucky Bleichert and Lee Blanchard. Both were driven to solve the killing, and through Ellroy's narrative listeners learn just how destructive obsession can be. Some posit that this story is based on the murder of Ellroy's own mother in 1958. This occurred when Ellroy was a child and her murderer was never found. Quite obviously, this was a death that did not leave him unaffected as some may have read in his memoir My Dark Places. The parallels are obvious yet do not detract in any way from the power of Ellroy's prose or his deft construction of a dark drama. Actor Stephen Hoye, who has appeared in films and on stage in London and Los Angeles ,delivers an expert reading of this noir tale. - Gail Cooke

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 17, 2002

    Motif reveals theme of story

    Everybody has something in his or her mind to keep going; in ¿The Black Dahlia,¿ by James Elroy, two cops are beset in a very strange and absurd murder case that shapes and runs their lives. This book starts out on a happy note when the main character and narrator, Bucky Bleichert, gets promoted to Warrants in the Los Angeles police department and earns enough money in a boxing match to put his father in a nursing home. But a couple months later, on the date of January 15th, 1947, a tortured and ravished body of a beautiful young woman is found in the back of a vacant parking lot. The victim is dubbed the ¿Black Dahlia¿, and the investigation starts the biggest manhunt in California. Bucky Bleichert and his partner and friend, Lee Blanchard, are sent to investigate the case. They soon get caught up and become obsessed with the case. The noir motif reveals the theme. The style and tone that the writer takes is the classic California setting, there are two cops that like to go after and shake up bad guys, and of course there is a beautiful girl which both Bucky and Lee are rivals in love with. The dark, gloomy, and dismal setting shows how even though the cops are the good guys, they still have major flaws. They will do whatever they need to do, even if it means breaking the law, which is ironic because they are both cops, to find the killer. This literary technique gives off a certain mood that is vital to the story. The motif helps us comprehend how Hollywood was after the war. It also gives insight into the characters minds and helps us realize why they take the actions that they do.

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