The highly acclaimed novel based on America's most infamous unsolved murder case. Dive into 1940s Los Angeles as two cops spiral out of control in their hunt for The Black Dahlia's killer in this powerful thriller that is "brutal and at the same time believable" (New York Times).
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.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Gutsy crime novelist James Ellroy launched his stunningly grimy L.A. Quartet with this delirious thriller about sex and obsession. In real life, the Black Dahlia remains L.A.’s most infamous unsolved crime: the shockingly gruesome 1947 murder of 22-year-old Elizabeth Short. Ellroy skillfully weaves that case into his story of two LAPD homicide detectives navigating a maze of suspects and their own troubled psyches. Ellroy doesn’t flinch from the crime’s ugliness, but his language transcends it—his words blaze with anger and sorrow for victims and villains alike. More than mere crime fiction, The Black Dahlia approaches hot-blooded pulp poetry.
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.
Customer ReviewsSee All
L.A. very noir. Channels Raymond Chandler almost perfectly, but lacks a moral compass. Maybe it's that L.A. doesn't have one. Or maybe the author just didn't know how to look for it.
Obsession through Ellroy's Looking Glass
"The Black Dahlia" is an intersection where obsessions collide in passion-fugued madness. Every exquisitely drawn character is neatly chronicled by author James Ellroy with their own, often dark passions that drive them through life in postwar Los Angeles circa 1947. Ellroy tears into the dark side of Hollywood, weaving the story of Elizabeth Short, nicknamed "The Black Dahlia" when the sensationalist story of her killing hit LA tabloids with the anguish over Ellroy's own mother being murdered in LA years later.
The fictional story of cop and local boxing hero Bucky Bleichert's rise on the fast track in the LAPD until the body of a badly mutilated girl is discovered. Bleichert and his partner become obsessed with the Dahlia, as do many of the elite detectives of the LAPD. To narrate more of the story is to give away one of the best-told stories in detective fiction, rife with amazing nuances and subtle well constructed details that will keep you turning pages.
An amazing read, Ellroy at his best.
The 1st book in the LA Quartet of novels is written in a single point of view from Bucky and it's enthralling. Way better than the movie. The mix of fact and fiction, love and murder combine for a great read.