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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

Overall

  • 3.8 out of 5.0
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Performance

  • 4.2 out of 5.0
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    48
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    8
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Story

  • 4.0 out of 5.0
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Sort by:
  • Overall
  • krista
  • New Orleans, LA, United States
  • 09-12-06

Entertaining.

I enjoyed this listen, but would strongly warn those easily offended by violence, racial slurs, bias, language, and the like to choose an alternative. That said, this novel takes some time getting started as a good deal of time is devoted to establishing main character back story, but upon the discovery of "The Dahlia," the plot snaps along without losing any momentum or quality. Sometimes depressing, sometimes outright funny, sometimes uplifting, this novel easily takes its rightful place within the Noir/Crime genre, and for those who enjoyed "L.A. Confidential," it is a sure bet. **Bonus author interview included wherein author identifies his thought processes and motivations associated with the writing of "The Black Dahlia."

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Great naration

The book was very good, one of the better Audible listens in the two plus years that I've been a member. The narator deserves special mention: Without a doubt, the best naration of all the books I've listened to since joining Audible.

13 of 14 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Jane
  • Estevan, SK, Canada
  • 09-23-06

An oddly compelling story

Filled with spooky noir nuances, outrageous storylines and complex characters, this is a don't miss book. That's not to say that it doesn't have it's flaws. There are some plot points that make very little sense, and some of the story is downright gory. However, as a whole, it makes for great listening, full of old Hollywood lore and 40's detective lingo.
I purchased and downloaded this well before the film release, fully intending to have it listened to before I saw the movie. I'm actually glad that I didn't read the book before the movie, because while the movie stands on it's own as entertainment, it is nothing next to the book. It's lengthy and requires your full attention, but I think you will find it's worth it.

12 of 13 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Black Dahlia

I woudn't recommend this book for anyone who cannot handle violence in their literature . . . that being said, the book was very compelling and didn't just cover the tragedy of the murder of a young woman; it also gave us a look at the darkness of the lives of our main characters. Being able to get a picture of what drove the characters to be portrayed in the manner they were helped the book flow better and gave insight to their actions. After reading this book I was driven to do internet searches and learn more about the true crime that occured - I had never heard of the Black Dahlia before. I did feel a little lost in the final chapters of the book as I felt they skipped around a lot; however I did walk away from the story feeling like justice was served in the story (and hopefully in real life). I have recommended this book to several of my friends.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

captivating

loved it, captured my attention the way through. Any hard driven detective can relate, and this book showed me the noir history of Los Angeles, be that it's fictional it still maintained a truth of history.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

GREAT BOOK

Let me say I am a rabid fan of James Ellroy.
His genius is that he goes into his characters souls and he understands the human soul very well.
Be aware that his mother was murdered in much the same way The Dahlia was murdered. This should give you more insight into of his characters feelings for The Dahlia.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • ken
  • Pittsburgh, PA, United States
  • 03-14-07

Great Read

Ellroy immerses you in postwar L.A. His writing is as close as one can get to a time machine. And, yes, his writing is about the characters' reacting to the Dahlia murders: good fiction -- even good crime fiction -- is always about character.

If only L.A. Confidential and The Big Sleep were available in unabridged versions. Ellroy simply can't be abridged/

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Enthralling

Ellroy's rendering of post-war LA and its cops and their culture enthralled me as much as anything in this very entertaining book. That, together with strong, full characters, a believable plot and well-pitched narration, make this one of my favorite selections so far.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Gritty - but great

This book is very gritty and very dark book - but one that gives you a good glimpse into old LA during a very interesting time period. I tend to enjoy Ellroy's books a lot in the beginning and slowly liking them less and less as the mystery unfolds. This book was no different. While I really enjoyed the way the book started, the books descent into gruesome madness eventually became too much for me. That being said, i still finish each book and look forward to his other books.

AUDIBLE 20 REVIEW SWEEPSTAKES ENTRY

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Gripping!

if you like crime stories and you have the stomach for it the Black Dahlia gives you a lot for your money.