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The Black Dahlia Files: The Mob, the Mogul, and the Murder That Transfixed Los Angeles
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The Black Dahlia Files: The Mob, the Mogul, and the Murder That Transfixed Los Angeles

3.82 of 5 stars 3.82  ·  rating details  ·  412 ratings  ·  43 reviews
In 1946, Elizabeth Short traveled to Hollywood to become famous and see her name up in lights. Instead, the dark-haired beauty became immortalized in the headlines as the "Black Dahlia" when her nude and bisected body was discovered in the weeds of a vacant lot. Despite the efforts of more than four hundred police officers and homicide investigators, the heinous crime was ...more
Paperback, 416 pages
Published September 5th 2006 by William Morrow Paperbacks (first published December 27th 2005)
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Natalie Maguire
Without giving too much, if anything, away if no one has ever really heard much about the Black Dahlia case, I thought it was extremely well written and presented. The book progresses through the evidence, and gradually outlines to the reader what is known, what isn't known, and the history behind the key people involved. I think that's what I liked most about it, that it didn't really straight out exclaim things immediately, but kind of let you figure out and put the pieces of the puzzle togeth ...more
James
May 19, 2012 James rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to James by: Madelyn Wray
Donald H. Wolfe has presented a meticulously researched and thoroughly documented account of what likely is the truth about the brutal murder of Elizabeth Short. Wolfe's book has the authority of a properly prepared murder investigation, but reads with the building anticipation of a fictional murder mystery. The Black Dahlia Files is an excellent book in every respect, as Wolfe examines, in detail, the actual evidence. Certainly, he possessed the ability to refer to documents and information rec ...more
Niki
PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE! Do your research before reading this book or believing anything contained therein. While this book is very well written and nicely structured, it's full of holes and is just plain not true. Donald Wolfe builds a bit on John Gilmore's crackpot theory and throws some of his own odd tidbits in there for good measure.

I would direct people to Larry Harnisch's blog where he disects this book chapter by chapter first. He finds many of the holes I mentioned and lays out why Wolf
...more
Abra
Reading this book I felt like I knew Elizabeth Short. It kept me turning pages too. Donald Wolf is an excellent writer as well as researcher. One of my favorite written descriptions to date is in the first chapter of this book. It is the description of a printing press. After reading this I knew I wanted to read more by Wolf so I checked out The Marilyn Monroe book he wrote. I didn't like it as much as this though, but it was still well done. This case has always fascinated me and this was the b ...more
Paul L'Herrou
Much more violence than I usually want to read about. However, my family lived in Los Angeles at the time. I was a 9-year-old,and recall overhearing adults talking, without wanting children to hear, about this brutal murder. This book was compelling in describing the life of Elizabeth Short, AKA The Black Dahlia, as it led up to her death. More interesting to me was the picture it painted of the movie industry and the competing mob interests that operated within the control of a corrupt police f ...more
Jessica Powell
This was the first book I read on the Black Dahlia case, so I have a soft spot for it. It's well written and, more importantly, well structured. For the most part Wolfe follows the media chronology, letting us learn the details in the same order the people of LA would have back in 1947. If you're just getting into the case, I'd recommend starting with Wolfe for that reason.

But - because there is always a but - you need to take Wolfe's theory with a big pinch of salt. E.g. His argument that the f
...more
Emilie
of all the black dahlia books out there, i found this one is the most engaging and least daddy hating.
Meaghan Clark
It's a well told story, but that is all it is, a story. If you are trying to find out as much about Elizabeth Short as you can, then read this book. Otherwise, I'd leave it.
Suvi
Wolfe writes engagingly and he has truly made his research. He doesn't reveal his theory about the murderer(s) until in the very end, forcing the reader to think about the case and connect the clues. For that reason I'll try not to give away too much in the following.

I actually believe that the solution Wolfe provides is how things really happened. It all makes sense, pieces fit in the gaps. Even if it's not true, files that became public only recently give away pretty big clues, things that dir
...more
Jacqueline Schroeder
I own this book about the Black Dahlia and while it was interestingly written, I would still recommend the version of this story bY Hodel ~Whether his version is more fact than fiction, he has got real believable points to his side of the story...I would be led like an animal to its trap...So convincing is his theory...One of the best Celebrity Murder Mysteries of all time
Tanya
This is one of the better books written about Beth Short. How much of it is really true, who knows. You feel as though you know her when you are finished reading the book. I have always been fascinated by her story. A beautiful girl in L.A. trying to make it in acting winds up drifting from town to town, and eventually brutally murdered. The author puts forth a believable solution to the crime but so has John Gilmore in Severed. What I love about this book is you get immersed in the time period. ...more
Charleen
The politics and other happenings surrounding this case are so dull, yet every book and account of the history of this murder is so focused on it. I want to read a profile, I want to read 50 profiles in a row, I want to know every detail regarding the case, the victim, the body, not about Bugsy and this guys "Uncle." BORING. Cool photos though.
Angela
I rated myself as liking this book, but I wouldn't say that is true. I think that the author did an excellent job writing a compelling and well-supported theory behind a notorious murder, but the picture that he paints with so many facts is incredibly disturbing. I cannot count the number of times that I turned a page and moaned in dismay at finding a graphic description or photograph (yes, photograph! There are many photographs of dead and mutilated bodies). This book is definitely not for the ...more
Colleen Mertens
I thought this was a well-written true crime book. It was graphic in the nature of the violence depicted because of the nature of the crime involved and the players in the crime. It was interesting to learn about the levels of corruption at that time and how that often played into how things were investigated and covered up. It amazed me to see how controvesial some of the events were for that time and how something considered so horrific then may not even get much attention by today's standards ...more
Sarah
I love historical crime stories
Tasha
This book was really interesting. Along the same lines as The Devil in the White City. Why I love these true story gruesome mob books I don't know but I do. It was a fascinating read. I like that the author doesn't tell you right away who the prime suspects are...you kinda figure it out as the book progresses.
Norma
Absolutely fascinating. I think this one came very close to pinpointing the real murderer. With all the abundance of facts, summations and speculations, this book kept me riveted from front to back. Very well written; will look for his name on future books
Debra Gunstanson
I like true stories but a bit dark
Kristin
This book was a lot of fun to read at Halloween time and in LA at Halloween time. I am not sure how legitimate this writer is, but it was a pretty good theory on what may have happened to Elizabeth Short. Enjoyable.
Gae-Lynn Woods
A well-researched look at the Black Dahlia murder. Wolfe draws fascinating conclusions about Elizabeth Short's killers, the motive for her murder, and why it was so well covered up. Worth a read for true crime lovers.
Robyn
I've read a lot of books on this topic, this one seems to be the most researched and well documented. Very interesting and if you believe the facts as they are presented by the author...the case is solved.
Kay Church
Apr 09, 2013 Kay Church added it
Recommended to Kay by: Tom
Interesting book and story that meshes nicely with the movie Gangster Squad and LA Confidential. Lots of research, names, dates, places, etc. At times it seemed like TMI, but all-in-all I liked it.
Nicole G.
Completely engaging, and very well-written, true-crime about the gruesome murder of a twenty-two year old girl in the late 1940s, and the possible cover-up that led to a cold, cold case
Kdremak
Amazing and interesting. Almost too hard to believe but gives one an insight into the gritty dirty underworld and underbelly of L.A. and perhaps even solves the mystery
Linda Tarantino
Fascinating story of a very cold murder case. The author's theory is Elisabeth Short was killed by the mob and was mutilated after death because she was pregnant.
Crystal
Couldn't put it down. The most compelling theory of who killed Elizabeth Short. I think the Black Dalia case has been solved after all of these years.
Violet
Aug 29, 2008 Violet rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Seamstresses
Recommended to Violet by: Karl Rove
Well-told and plausible, with lots of great photos and personal insight by the author, although he consistently writes "infers" where he means "implies."
Melissa
Interesting theory on the mob's possible connection with the Black Dahlia case.
Also a great look into the corruption of 1950's Hollywood and the LAPD.

SueAnn
Aug 30, 2009 SueAnn marked it as to-read
The Black Dahlia Files intrigues me because my Uncle Bob told me about the case and that he had been living in LA during this time.
Karina
Super interesting, factually-based book. The photos were a big help in putting names to faces. Pretty scary for being nonfiction.
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