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Publisher's Summary

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.

©1987 James Ellroy; (P)2006 Random House, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"Passionate, violent, frustrating...imaginative and bizarre." (Los Angeles Times)
"Ellroy's powerful rendering of the long-reaching effects of murder gives the case new meaning." (Library Journal)
"Building like a symphony, this is a wonderful, complicated but accessible tale of ambition, insanity, passion, and deceit, with the perfect setting of booming, postwar Los Angeles." (Publishers Weekly)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings


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  • Story
  • Cliff
  • RED BANK, NJ, United States
  • 12-29-14

Now This Is Storytelling!

I couldn't put this story down. Great character development, fact-based fiction, action-packed plot. I want more! Yes, the language is corse, and at times offensive, but The Black Dahlia's protagonist and his fellow officers are people who spoke and thought that way.

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Probably not the best person to ask

Would you try another book from James Ellroy and/or Stephen Hoye?

I very much dislike James Ellroy, but I'm interested in the Black Dahlia, so I thought I'd give it a chance. No. The reviews warned about strong language, and I will reiterate that warning. There is basically only one kind of language I have a problem with and that is racial slurs. I realize that this is a book set in a different time period, but it just seems so unnecessary. Ellroy's writing is so arrogant I just couldn't stomach it.

2 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
  • Story
  • Todd
  • lakewood, CO, USA
  • 03-11-14

The Black Dahlia will pull you in

What made the experience of listening to The Black Dahlia the most enjoyable?

The Narrator voice matched the story

What did you like best about this story?

Based on fact

What about Stephen Hoye’s performance did you like?

His voice added to the story

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

I dare you to watch Black Dahlia

Any additional comments?

As you read this book you will find yourself asking for more

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  • Story
  • Brenda
  • QUINCY, MA, United States
  • 10-02-11

Ellroy (and narrator) are great story tellers!

The author and narrator do a great job at telling Elizabeth Short's sad story. A story of a horrific murder and sleazy goings-on. Apparently, very fact based, but with a hypothetical ending. Shocking, even through Ellroy's Epilogue!

  • Overall
  • Bill
  • Sacramento, CA, USA
  • 01-14-08

Fictional Portrayal

This story is a fictional portrayal of the lifestyle, murder and police operations at the time of the Black Dahlia murder. It gives a very good sense of the corruption present amongst the peace officers in Los Angeles at this time. Unfortunately, very little is truly presented regarding the investigation of this horrendous crime and is really a social commentary. It is insightful into the social interaction between the police force and public, but gives very little insight into the crime other than the a description of the bloody murder scene.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Karl
  • Los Angeles, CA, USA
  • 07-07-07

Great listen...

I really enjoyed everything about this book, the writing, the narration. Big thumbs up... two bad the movie didn't even come close to the book. I was glad I "read" the book first...

  • Overall
  • Majic13
  • Sacramento, Ca United States
  • 04-20-07


I saw the movie first, and was sorely disappointed, but had high hopes that the book would be better because the story itself is intriguing. I was wrong. Way too long. Takes forever to get to the point, if you can last that long.

  • Overall
  • Linda
  • woodbridge, VA, USA
  • 06-22-07

Not one I would recommend

The book was too long and winding to get to address it's own title..."the Black Dahlia" I won't say it was a total waste but I had to force myself to finish listening to it. If I had it to do over I wouldn't spend my money on this one.

1 of 3 people found this review helpful

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This book is horrible. I have followed the black dahlia stories, articles and this book does not come close to the events that surrounds her death. This book more portrays the story of the cops and their lives and their stories on their own lives and stories. Do not get this book you will regret it

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Don't bother

I deleted this book with about 3 hours left. The narrator is awful, I'll never buy a book with him again. The story is extremely thin and it is more about the psyche of a fictional cop than about the actual Dahlia murder. It is full of racial and sexual slurs that are supposed to be period I guess but it seemed the author enjoyed the language. And it was amateurly written. Don' bother.

1 of 7 people found this review helpful