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The Black Dahlia by James Ellroy
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The Black Dahlia (1987)

by James Ellroy

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: L.A. Quartet (1)

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4,3211011,619 (3.61)239
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» See also 239 mentions

English (88)  French (6)  Italian (3)  Spanish (2)  Swedish (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (101)
Showing 1-5 of 88 (next | show all)
Gritty, cynical, and brilliant. A true noir classic about dark obsessions and corruption. ( )
  trile1000 | Jul 1, 2018 |
2.5 stars

“The Black Dahlia” was the name given to a murder (true crime) that happened in LA in 1947. Elizabeth Short had been tortured and was found naked, cut in half. It was never solved. This is a fictionalized account, focusing on a detective who worked the case.

It took a long time for the story to really get going, I thought. I really wasn’t interested in the detective’s personal life – at all. Once Elizabeth’s body was found, it got more interesting, but even still, only to a point. I listened to the audio, so it may have had some effect on my rating, but I’m not sure it would have brought it up all that much if I’d read it, either. I have to admit, the narrator did accents very well. ( )
  LibraryCin | Jun 28, 2018 |
it feels almost unfair to rate this as a three as it was an excellently twisting mystery written with great characters and a real sense of both time and place. However for me the lack of insight into why the main characters did what they did, and the reversal of character development as the story progressed undermined what was good about this one for me

Plot in a Nutshell

A fictionalisation of the Black Dahlia case from 1947. In this telling the protagonists, 2 police officers Blanchard and Bleichert are partnered up in unusual circumstances and quickly find themselves seconded into the case. What follows is as much a psychological story about the two men as it is a mystery to solve the case

Thoughts

Whilst the novel started a little slowly – lots of the early part of the book were the set up to the beginning of the partnership between the two men, much of which was based on boxing (a sport I no little, and care even less, about). Boxing aside I appreciated the set up which gave the reader so many details about our main characters and the culture of LAPD at the time. I enjoyed the fact that both were portrayed ‘warts and all’ and that Bleichert as the narrator seemed so honest about himself and his failings.

However this character development seemed to halt almost as soon as the Dahlia case is introduced. Both immediately begin to obsess over not just resolution of the case but over the victim herself. Policemen looking to solve a crime I can buy, an unsolved crime eating away at the police officers trying to solve it I can buy but the jump from which both went from basic investigation to flat out fixated was something I struggled with.

I had never heard of the Black Dahlia case before reading the book and I had not known that there was an element of historical fiction when buying but once I realised it increased my discomfort factor significantly particularly in the way in which the victim was both portrayed and described in death.

Language was another slight issue for me – the historical detail and Emerson in the LAPD of the 40s was exceptional. It did however mean lots of slang and decidedly negative language about women. It styled well but was not always comfortable reading.

The murder and efforts to unpick and solve was very strong and kept twisting until the very end – at times sub plots and stories were distracting but certainly kept me on my toes

I’ll definitely read another Ellroy but not quite sure this was the one for me. ( )
1 vote itchyfeetreader | May 3, 2018 |
The Black Dahila by James Ellroy is based on the famous unsolved 1947 murder of Elizabeth Short in Los Angeles. The author blends fact and fiction seamlessly mixing real people and invented characters to paint a very vivid picture of LA and it’s police force. The two detectives that he uses as his main characters are ex-boxers who each joined the force for their own reasons. The story is narrated by one, Dwight “Bucky” Bleichert, but the cocky, confident Lee Blanchard seems to be the one directing most of the action. One point that the reader should be clear on is that in real life The Black Dahlia case was never solved but in this book a murderer is identified.

As the author’s own mother was brutally murdered in Los Angeles and the perpetrator was never discovered, I am sure this was a very personal story for him. His writing is so meticulous and intricate that I felt he must have mapped the storyline out in great detail well in advance to putting anything down on paper. I listened to an audio version and found myself deeply drawn into the story so that an hour or more would go by without me realizing it. The grisly murder was almost backdrop to the story as what was stressed by the author was the effect the case had on the characters.

The Black Dahlia is considered the first book in his LA Quartet, a series of crime stories set in Los Angeles during the 1940s and 50s. One thing that remains true to each book is the sense of political corruption and vice that ran rampant through the city at that time. The author builds his story carefully on greed, addiction, lust and violence to create a complicated but highly readable story of postwar LA. ( )
2 vote DeltaQueen50 | Jan 18, 2018 |
“The Black Dahlia” is not a story for the faint-hearted. It features some graphic descriptions of dead and mutilated bodies, so beware if such things give you nightmares! Made me recoil a few times, I must admit, though didn’t hide behind the sofa.

As I’m writing this nearly six years after reading the book, a lot of details have left my memory, though I recall it being a narrative that no reader can pursue with a passive interest.

Hardboiled crime stories aren’t really to my tastes, but had to read this at university. That said, I appreciate the author’s plotting skills. Crime stories are, as a rule, plot-dominated, though this one features many vivid characters, too. ( )
  PhilSyphe | Dec 20, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 88 (next | show all)

» Add other authors (12 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
James Ellroyprimary authorall editionscalculated
Lorenzin, LucianoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mutarelli, LourençoCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Peringer, StephenCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vlek, RonaldTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Now I fold you down, my drunkard, my navigator, My first lost keeper, to love or look at later.
- Anne Sexton
Dedication
To Geneva Hilliker Ellroy 1915-1958
Mother:
Twenty-nine years later, this valediction in blood
First words
I never knew her in life.
Quotations
This has been going on since Mae West was a virgin.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Information from the Italian Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0446698873, Paperback)

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 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 girl's twisted life, past the extremes of their own psyches-into a region of total madness.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:11:06 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

The murder of a beautiful young woman in 1947 Los Angeles sparks an investigation in which Bucky Bleichert, Lee Blanchard, L.A.P.D. Warrants Squad cops, ex-boxers, friends, and adversaries become obsessed by the case.

» see all 20 descriptions

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