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The Black Dahlia [Mass Market Paperback]

James Ellroy
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (106 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Sept. 1 2006
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.

Frequently Bought Together

The Black Dahlia + L.A. Confidential + The Big Nowhere
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Product Description

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 text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From 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
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Rebirth of "The Black Dahlia" March 24 2004
By Marina
This was my first James Ellroy book, and it is now my favorite of all time. He ended it in a twist...that i did not see coming. The frustration that he brings out in Detective Bleichert, and his passion for Kay and Madeliene, and Elizabeth Short, are unexplainable. It's a classic!
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5.0 out of 5 stars EXPERT READING OF A NOIR TALE Sept. 6 2006
By Gail Cooke TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Audio CD
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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4.0 out of 5 stars darkness visible Feb. 16 2004
This is not the work of a healthy mind. That doesn't mean that it's not brilliant, but be aware and be careful before you embark. You will probably have to finish what you start, and it is ultimately un-pretty. It's not too far a stretch to guess that Ellroy's own obsession with his mother's murder is playing out here, and the torment is ugly, graphic and real. Yet, like all truly talented and disciplined artists, Ellroy is able to make of his ghastly obsession an artistic statement about a society, a place, a time. His ULTIMATE 'solution' to the crime is not completely believable, because what happened to Betty Short, the 'Black Dahlia' is clearly the product of a private, unconscious descent into a particularly vile form of madness that he unconvincingly puts off on a character who can't really support the behavoir. But the grotesque characters met on the way down ARE real, and their lust for cruelty, death and dead things convincingly connects to ancient dramas of torture, and the 20th Century horror of the World War that ushered in a Century of atrocities founding a mountain of crazy profiteering on a grand scale. One is enormously grateful for the presence of a single character, Russ Millard (known aptly as "the Padre") who serves as a reminder that decency in some form does carry on. Otherwise, the police, the builders of the Hollywood hills, the film industry, and all powers north and south of the border seem devoted to a particularly foul living out of viler imaginings than most of us, fortunately, entertain in even our worst nightmares. To be honest, I finished this novel inclined simply to pray for Ellroy, and other direct and indirect victims of sexual violence, and that we and all the other Betty Shorts of the world should be spared.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Black and bleak Dahlia Feb. 2 2004
This was not a easy book to find, and once I got hold of it, I found it tough to read as well. In San Francisco I saw a photo exhibit of Los Angeles police photographers. Once of the star subjects from the 40s was Elizabeth Short, also know as the Black Dahlia. There were copies of her letters and other documents and I was hooked and had to know more. Ellroy's book was the next step. Unable to find it in SF, at least not in the four bookshops I visited, I finally located it in London. (This time I didn't try Amazon!)
I wasn't disappointed but I was frustrated, only because I wanted to know more about Elizabeth Short but THE BLACK DAHLIA is really about police work in Los Angeles. The protagonist, an ex-boxer, also wants to know more about Elizabeth Short and the story involves his obsession with her and her murder, his relationship to his job, his pals and the people linked to Betty Short. Even his tough personality cannot withstand the hideous and twisted goings-on in the police force. The story swings out of control when all the characters start to link up so that Ellroy can tie up his story. He wraps up the Black Dahlia's murder with what I found to be a preposterous conclusion. Nevertheless, whether or not it's a good point, the description written by the murderer in a journal (the conceit being that murder isn't worth it unless it's recorded) is the most shocking account of murderous human suffering I have ever read.
Toughness extends through every word: the metaphoric and staccoto cop language, the twists of character and desire, and the hard-hitting story depict a world in which there is little comfort and few resolutions of which none are happy.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Prompt and speedy delivery
This book is also a gift. The recipient is a fan of James Elroy so I'm sure he'll enjoy the book!
Published 22 months ago by Gail Boucher
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating and Troubling
If you want a crime thriller that addresses both the main action and collateral action in all its vivid and disturbing detail, The Black Dahlia is the one. Read more
Published on April 4 2007 by Ian Gordon Malcomson
5.0 out of 5 stars Grizzly but Gripping
Ellroy takes us to the dark depths of humanity. Shows us how ugly we can be as human beings: murderers whose only motive is that of deriving a sexual kick. Read more
Published on Feb. 18 2004 by Glen1975
4.0 out of 5 stars perverse, gruesome, memorable... and somewhat flawed
'Black Dahlia' is my first James Ellroy novel. Clearly the author wishes he was born 50 years earlier so he can live along side the likes of Raymond Chandler, James Cain and... Read more
Published on Dec 16 2003 by lazza
5.0 out of 5 stars The Most Readable Elroy -- Haunting and Powerful
Here is Elroy at his most readable -- as his later style grows more and more clipped and turgid -- this book shines more and more as bright shining point in his writing and in this... Read more
Published on Oct. 24 2003 by Gordon Rios
5.0 out of 5 stars Dark, Demented...Brilliant.
In 1947 Elizabeth(Betty) Short, a 'budding actress' in the glitzy exclusive club that is Hollywood and Los Angeles was found brutally murdered in a back alley lot in Hollywood. Read more
Published on Aug. 11 2003 by Taisei Fuma
4.0 out of 5 stars Great, but fiction all the way
Just so you know this is a totally INACCURATE portrait of the actual Liz Short character. It's rather shameful to see real names used this way. Read more
Published on July 17 2003 by "zoobyrd7"
5.0 out of 5 stars Ellroy Rules already, here's another
Think L.A. Confidential (which Ellroy wrote) meets Chinatown (the movie) Two hard-boiled boxing cops with still-tender yolks attempt to solve a famous homicide of a beautiful dame... Read more
Published on June 19 2003 by Eric Turowski
5.0 out of 5 stars Damn Good Crime Fiction.
James Ellroy is an awesome writer, and I think I'm pretty much hooked on him. I loved L.A. Confidential (and the movie, too) after reading it a few months back and decided to go in... Read more
Published on June 16 2003 by LostBoy76
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