This is a gritty story about a real world event in LA after WWII. The action is fast with the detectives investigating this gruesome murder behaving badly at times and with "stiff upper lip" at other times. Afterall, dealing with the types of individuals involved in the criminal underworld can not leave one unscarred. The author, James Ellroy, is the real deal. He himself has a checkered past and tragedy enough for any person. His mom was murdered when he was a youngster. And they never caught that murderer either (no one was arrested in this Black Dahlia case). The language is hot and the images are brutal, but this is the real world of police investigations.
Excellent detective novel based on the famous case. Pretty much the last word in Black Dahlia books, this is a fictional investigative account of the famous unsolved case which continues to baffle detectives all these years hence. Very gritty, very real. You'll forget it's a fictionalized account.
From Publishers Weekly
Based on a notorious, unsolved Los Angeles murder case, the central drama of this hard-boiled mystery--set in the late 1940s--begins 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 evidence--the 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.
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc.
This book was a little drawn out for my liking but once I got into the book I had to know who did it. Many twists in this book that makes you think they figured it out but then someone else comes into play.
Randy P. reviewed The Black Dahlia (L.A. Quartet, Bk 1) on
I started the book just before seeing the movie, and I ended up enjoying the book more. The book offers more character development and detail in scenes that were sort of glossed over in the film, scenes that in the end played an important role in the plot of the book. Ellroy paints a great picture of SoCal in the '40s - I look forward to reading his other books.
On January 15, 1947, the tortured-ravished body of a beautiful young woman is found in Los Angeles vacant lot. The victim makes headlines as the Black Dahlia - and so begins the greatest manhunt in California history.
Caught up in the investigation are Bucky Bleichert and Lee Blanchard, Warrants Squad cops, friends, and rivals in love with the same woman. But both are obsessed with the Dahlia - driven by dark needs to know everything about her past, to capture her killer, to possess the woman even in death. Their quest will take them on a hellish journey through the underbelly of postwar Hollywood, to the core of the dead's girls twisted life, past the extremes of their own psyches - into a region of total madness.
Try as I might, I just couldn't get into this one. From the beginning, it uses a lot of what I can only assume is police terminology from that time period. So right away, I don't connect with the characters. The story just seemed to drag on and on. I made it about 2/3 of the way through but finally decided to just give up on this one.
Written like a true story (which it is supposedly based on), people say it is "noir" but I didn't find it all that dark- much less "black" (yes I know what film noir is... this isn't it). This is a detective/murder mystery. Overall, an ok fast read, written in 1940's vernacular- makes you want to know how much of it is true
If I had to come up with one word to describe this fictional re-telling of the famous 1947 Black Dahlia murder, viseral would be it. This is far from an intellectual mystery/thriller. Rather, it hits you in the guts emotionally - time and time again.
I expected a story that just basically fleshed out the real murder and its investigation. I was sooooo wrong. I mostly listened to this book on audio, and almost gave up after the first two CD's because it was full - and I mean FULL - of boxing slang, 40's cop slang, and ethnic and sexual slurs - and we hadn't even gotten the to murder yet!
If I had paid attention to the tag line under the title of the book (by the author of LA Confidential), that would have been my clue to the dark and corrupt nature of this novel. I haven't read LA Confidential, but I've seen the movie. 'Nuff said. (And yes, I had totally forgotten that The Black Dahlia was also made into a movie a few years ago and have never seen it.)
But just as the fictional detectives were drawn into the investigation, I was drawn into it also. Almost compelled to keep reading and listening. And the plot was so intricate that I HAD to pay attention. The final solution to the mystery came as a complete shock - although it made total sense in retrospect.
So in sum, even though this book was totally out of the box for me, I recommend it. It's an excellent mystery/thriller.
The Black Dahlia was a very good read but parts were gory and horrific. The first part was hard to get into without having knowledge of boxing terms. Also, later in the book a lot of police lingo and codes were thrown around, with meanings that needed to be explained. It was a great book overall and inspiration to pursue the truth.
Ashley S. - , reviewed The Black Dahlia (L.A. Quartet, Bk 1) on
On January 15, 1947, the torture-ravished body of a beautiful young woman is found in a Los Angeles vacant lot. The victim makes headlines as the Black Dehlia-and so begins the greatest manhunt in California history.
Caught up in the investigation are Bucky Bieichert & Lee Blanchard: Warrants Squad cops, friends, & rivals in love with the same woman. But both are obsessed with the Dehlia-driven by dark needs to know everything about her past, to capture her killer, to possess the woman even in death. Their quest will take them on a hellish journey through the underbelly of postwar Hollywood, to the core of the dead girl's twisted life, past the extremes of their own psyches-into a region of total madness.
From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. 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.
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