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

( 74 )


On January 15, 1947, the tortured body of a beautiful young woman was found in a vacant lot in Hollywood. Elizabeth Short, the Black Dahlia, a young Hollywood hopeful, had been brutally murdered. Her murder sparked one of the greatest manhunts in California history.

In this fictionalized treatment of a real case, Bucky Bleichert and Lee Blanchard, both LA cops obsessed with the Black Dahlia, journey through the seamy underside of Hollywood to the core of the dead girl's twisted ...

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

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On January 15, 1947, the tortured body of a beautiful young woman was found in a vacant lot in Hollywood. Elizabeth Short, the Black Dahlia, a young Hollywood hopeful, had been brutally murdered. Her murder sparked one of the greatest manhunts in California history.

In this fictionalized treatment of a real case, Bucky Bleichert and Lee Blanchard, both LA cops obsessed with the Black Dahlia, journey through the seamy underside of Hollywood to the core of the dead girl's twisted life.

"Passionate, violent, frustrating...imaginative and bizarre." (Los Angeles Times)

"Building like a symphony, this is a wonderful, complicated, but accessible tale of ambition, insanity, passion and deceit." (Publishers Weekly)

This fictionalized version of Hollywood's most notorious murder case takes readers on a hellish journey through the movie capital and into a region of total madness.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
On January 15, 1947, the body of a beautiful young woman was found in a vacant lot in Hollywood. The victim, a Massachusetts-born aspiring actress, quickly became known as the Black Dahlia, lending Elizabeth Short in death a fame that she never enjoyed in life. In this much-acclaimed novel, originally published in 1987, James Ellroy transforms a ghoulish morgue story into a garish crime hunt through hell.
Gale Research
"Ellroy's novel is true to the facts as they are known," wrote David Haldane in The Los Angeles Times. "But it provides a fictional solution to the crime consistent with those facts." Haldane added that in tracing the Black Dahlia case Ellroy "conducts an uncompromising tour of the obscene, violent, gritty, obsessive, darkly sexual world of [Los Angeles's] underbelly in the 1940s, complete with names and places."
David Bowman
Ellroy indulges in every cliche of the genre (the two-fisted loner, the femme fatale, the twisted gunsel), but triumphantly reinvents each because he is convinced he is rebuilding noir from scratch. Hooray for delusion. In his best book, Ellroy fictionalizes the notorious true story of the murder of a Los Angeles whore (literally sliced in two), using the poor girl as a psychic stand-in for the novelist's own murdered mother.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Based on a notorious, unsolved Los Angeles murder case, the central drama of this hard-boiled mysteryset in the late 1940sbegins when the body of Elizabeth Short, an engagingly beautiful and promiscuous woman in her 20s, is discovered in a vacant lot, cut in half, disemboweled and bearing evidence that she had been tortured for several days before dying. Dubbed "The Black Dahlia'' by the press, the victim becomes an obsession for two L.A.P.D. cops, narrator Bucky Bleichert and his partner, Lee Blanchard, both ex-boxers who also are best friends and in love with the same woman. Despite a huge effort by the department, leads seem to go nowhere, and Bucky is mortified when he inadvertently helps to suppress evidencethe apparently innocuous fact that a woman he spends many nights with, casually bisexual Madeleine Sprague, daughter of a crooked real-estate tycoon, knew "the Dahlia'' and slept with her once. Bucky begins to fear for his future, but slowly and dangerously, he learns that his is one of the tamest crimes of corruption committed by the many people he knows. Building like a symphony, this is a wonderful, complicated but accessible tale of ambition, insanity, passion and deceit, with the perfect settingof booming, postwar Los Angeles.
Publishers Weekly
Narrator Hoye firmly nails young world-weary cop Bucky Bleichert in this audio version of Ellroy's 1987 crime novel. The flawed boxer-turned-lawman becomes obsessed with L.A.'s notorious unsolved 1947 torture-murder case, as well as the secret life of his missing partner, Lee Blanchard. Hoye proves a fine match for Ellroy's hardboiled prose, shuttling easily between hard and soft tones, crystallizing Bleichert's mix of cynicism, confusion, hurt and rage. Set in booming postwar Los Angeles, this tale of ambition, deceit and obsession builds to symphonic proportions. Throughout, Hoye skillfully modulates his narration to distinctly render each character corrupt cops, city officials, pimps, GIs, Mexican bar owners, prostitutes, society matrons and even the sound of a bullet piercing canvas. Hoye especially shines during heated police interrogations, able to shift his voice on a dime. The audio includes a new afterword from Ellroy, which might have delivered more punch had Ellroy read it himself. But in terms of this gritty, sprawling novel, Hoye was unquestionably the right man for the job. Simultaneous release with the Mysterious Press paperback movie tie-in (Reviews, Sept. 4, 1987). (Sept.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Using the basic facts concerning the 1940s' notorious and yet unsolved Black Dahlia case, Ellroy creates a kaleidoscope of human passion and dark obsession. A young woman's mutilated body is found in a Los Angeles vacant lot. The story is seen through the eyes of Bucky Bleichert, ex-prize fighter and something of a boy wonder on the police force. There is no relief or humor as Bleichert arrives at a grisly discovery. Ellroy's powerful rendering of the long-reaching effects of murder gives the case new meaning. This should be a major book for 1987. JV
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780446618120
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
  • Publication date: 9/28/2006
  • Series: L.A. Quartet Series, #1
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 92,774
  • Product dimensions: 4.25 (w) x 7.00 (h) x 1.12 (d)

Meet the Author

James Ellroy

James Ellroy was born in Los Angeles in 1948. His L.A. Quartet novels–The Black Dahlia, The Big Nowhere, L.A. Confidential, and White Jazz–were international bestsellers. American Tabloid was Time’s Novel of the Year for 1995; his memoir My Dark Places was a Time Best Book of the Year and a New York Times Notable Book for 1996; his most recent novel, The Cold Six Thousand, was a New York Times Notable Book and a Los Angeles Times Best Book of the Year for 2001. He lives on the California coast.

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Read an Excerpt

The Black Dahlia

By James Ellroy


Copyright © 1987 James Ellroy
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-446-69887-3

Chapter One

The road to the partnership began without my knowing it, and it was a revival of the Blanchard-Bleichert fight brouhaha that brought me the word.

I was coming off a long tour of duty spent in a speed trap on Bunker Hill, preying on traffic violators. My ticket book was full and my brain was numb from eight hours of following my eyes across the intersection of 2nd and Beaudry. Walking through the Central muster room and a crowd of blues waiting to hear the P.M. crime sheet, I almost missed Johnny Vogel's, "They ain't fought in years, and Horrall outlawed smokers, so I don't think that's it. My dad's thick with the Jewboy, and he says he'd try for Joe Louis if he was white."

Then Tom Joslin elbowed me. "They're talking about you, Bleichert."

I looked over at Vogel, standing a few yards away, talking to another cop. "Hit me, Tommy."

Joslin smiled. "You know Lee Blanchard?"

"The Pope know Jesus?"

"Ha! He's working Central Warrants."

"Tell me something I don't know."

"How's this? Blanchard's partner's topping out his twenty. Nobody thought he'd pull the pin, but he's gonna. The Warrants boss is this felony court DA, Ellis Loew. He got Blanchard his appointment, now he's looking for a bright boy to take over the partner's spot. Word is he creams for fighters andwants you. Vogel's old man's in the Detective Bureau. He's simpatico with Loew and pushing for his kid to get the job. Frankly, I don't think either of you got the qualifications. Me, on the other hand ..

I tingled, but still managed to come up with a crack to show Joslin I didn't care."Your teeth are too small. No good for biting in the clinches. Lots of clinches working Warrants."

* * *

But I did care.

That night I sat on the steps outside my apartment and looked at the garage that held my heavy bag and speed bag, my scrapbook of press clippings, fight programs and publicity stills. I thought about being good but not really good, about keeping my weight down when I could have put on an extra ten pounds and fought heavyweight, about fighting tortilla-stuffed Mexican middleweights at the Eagle Rock Legion Hall where my old man went to his Bund meetings. Light heavyweight was a no-man's-land division, and early on I pegged it as being tailor-made for me. I could dance on my toes all night at 175 pounds, I could hook accurately to the body from way outside and only a bulldozer could work in off my left jab.

But there were no light heavyweight bulldozers, because any hungry fighter pushing 175 slopped up spuds until he made heavyweight, even if he sacrificed half his speed and most of his punch. Light heavyweight was safe. Light heavyweight was guaranteed fifty-dollar' purses without getting hurt. Light heavyweight was plugs in the Times from Braven Dyer, adulation from the old man and his Jew-baiting cronies and being a big cheese as long as I didn't leave Glassell Park and Lincoln Heights. It was going as far as I could as a natural-without having to test my guts.

Then Ronnie Cordero came along.

He was a Mex middleweight out of El Monte, fast, with knockout power in both hands and a crablike defense, guard high, elbows pressed to his sides to deflect body blows. Only nineteen, he had huge bones for his weight, with the growth potential to jump him up two divisions to heavyweight and the big money. He racked up a string of fourteen straight early-round KOs at the Olympic, blitzing all the top LA middles. Still growing and anxious to jack up the quality of his opponents, Cordero issued me a challenge through the Herald sports page.

I knew that he would eat me alive. I knew that losing to a taco bender would ruin my local celebrity. I knew that running from the fight would hurt me, but fighting it would kill me. I started looking for a place to run to. The army, navy and marines looked good, then Pearl Harbor got bombed and made them look great. Then the old man had a stroke, lost his job and pension and started sucking baby food through a straw. I got a hardship deferment and joined the Los Angeles Police Department.

I saw where my thoughts were going. FBI goons were asking me if I considered myself a German or an American, and would I be willing to prove my patriotism by helping them out. I fought what was next by concentrating on my landlady's cat stalking a bluejay across the garage roof. When he pounced, I admitted to myself how bad I wanted Johnny Vogel's rumor to be true.

Warrants was local celebrity as a cop. Warrants was plainclothes without a coat and tie, romance and a mileage per diem on your civilian car. Warrants was going after the real bad guys and not rousting winos and wienie waggers in front of the Midnight Mission. Warrants was working in the DA's office with one foot in the Detective Bureau, and late dinners with Mayor Bowron when he was waxing effusive and wanted to hear war stories.

Thinking about it started to hurt. I went down to the garage and hit the speed bag until my arms cramped.

* * *

Over the next few weeks I worked a radio car beat near the northern border of the division. I was breaking in a fatmouthed rookie named Sidwell, a kid just off a three-year MP stint in the Canal Zone. He hung on my every word with the slavish tenacity of a lapdog, and was so enamored of civilian police work that he took to sticking around the station after our end of tour, bullshitting with the jailers, snapping towels at the wanted posters in the locker room, generally creating a nuisance until someone told him to go home.

He had no sense of decorum, and would talk to anybody about anything. I was one of his favorite subjects, and he passed station house scuttlebutt straight back to me.

I discounted most of the rumors: Chief Horrall was going to start up an interdivisional boxing team, and was shooting me Warrants to assure that I signed on along with Blanchard; Ellis Loew, the felony court corner, was supposed to have won a bundle betting on me before the war and was now handing me a belated reward; Horrall had rescinded his order banning smokers, and some high brass string puller wanted me happy so he could line his pockets betting on me. Those tales sounded too farfetched, although I knew boxing was somehow behind my front-runner status. What I credited was that the Warrants opening was narrowing down to either Johnny Vogel or me.

Vogel had a father working Central dicks; I was a padded 36-0-0 in the no-man's-land division five years before. Knowing the only way to compete with nepotism was to make the weight, I punched bags, skipped meals and skipped rope until I was a nice, safe light heavyweight again. Then I waited.


Excerpted from The Black Dahlia by James Ellroy Copyright © 1987 by James Ellroy. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 74 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 75 Customer Reviews
  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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


    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


    The ending will take your breath away!

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  • Posted March 13, 2011


    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


    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


    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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