The Black Dahlia by James Ellroy

TheBlackDahliaI’m glad I was not familiar with the infamous murder mystery of the 1940’s as it may have swayed my reading.  More so that I saved the epilogue for last, as that surely would have changed by point of view.

The hard-boiled writing style of The Black Dahlia elicits images of many a film noir from the books time period.  Based on the factual unsolved gruesome murder of 22-year-old Elizabeth Short, the book takes some poetic liberties and served as a personal journey for its author.

Dwight “Bucky” Bleichert is a former boxer who joins the LAPD and becomes obsessed with the Black Dahlia murder.  His quest for answers takes him into underground bars, corrupt police stations and the arms of two women who know more than they’re willing to share about the case.

Partner to Bucky, Lee Blanchard also obsesses over the unsolved murder.  His obsession, however, is to assuage his guilt over the disappearance of his little sister when he was a teen.  Use of benzedrine fuels his erratic behavior and propels him down a path of disaster.  This was the character who earned my wholehearted sympathy.

Kay Lake, adored by both Lee and Bucky never quite reveals herself and leaves the reader wondering whether she is sincere or  a schemer.

With stars in her young eyes, Elizabeth Short came to California with hopes of becoming a famous actress.  Her dreams were never realized and her grisly death brought the fame no one deserves.

Were I to enjoy some time with Mr. Ellroy, I would hope to have him confirm that he’d slayed the dragons of his childhood through the cathartic writing process.  I’d give a go of emulating some of the hard-boiled lingo, but would probably only make a fool of myself.

My rating for The Black Dahlia is an 8 out of 10.

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Next up, Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations…GreatExpectations


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