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Severed: The True Story of the Black Dahlia Murder
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Severed: The True Story of the Black Dahlia Murder

3.75  ·  Rating Details ·  1,240 Ratings  ·  57 Reviews
The Black Dahlia murder hit post-War Los Angeles like a bombshell and this impenetrable mystery was the haunting crown jewel of LAPD�s unsolved murders. Even before her savage death, beautiful 22-year old Elizabeth Short, an aspiring starlet and nightclub habitu�, was known as the Black Dahlia. Since her horrible demise, she has become a magnetic icon in American pop cultu ...more
Paperback, 238 pages
Published September 1st 2006 by Amok Books (first published 1994)
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Apr 24, 2012 Kascha rated it it was amazing
This book was the one I settled on to satisfy the Elizabeth Short portion of my ongoing fascination with Noir and True Crime and I am really REALLY glad I did. I've skimmed through some of the others, including those written by people who to me seem to be simply trying to cash in on the timeless mystery and open/unsolved status of the case by propping up all kinds of wacko confessions and stories. But this one comes from a completely different place altogether.

First of all, of all the people cla
Sean Wilson
Nov 12, 2015 Sean Wilson rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction, crime
Elizabeth Short seemed like a promiscuous and lonesome wanderer, whose grey, shadowy eyes foretold an early death. She had certain secrets that would only be known after her death. L.A-based writer John Gilmore gives us a satisfying yet incoherent look into the Black Dahlia case. It's fresh in its evidence, but not entirely engaging in its literary style.
Sep 22, 2012 Niki rated it did not like it
I feel sorry for the people that are so invested in John Gilmore's crack theory and who on reading this book feel that for them, the Black Dahlia Murder is solved. Not only does he show ZERO respect for Elizabeth but he doesn't offer you any concrete evidence to back up his theories.Lots of anectodal stories but nothing of real substance. There are so many holes one could poke if they had actually done some research before reading this book. There is no plausible way that Anderson had the surgic ...more
Caitlin M.
Aug 14, 2011 Caitlin M. rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Law Enforcement students/officials, historians, journalists, people with odd curiosities
Recommended to Caitlin by: Chris Pudlo
This is a must read for journalists and people working in the justice system. I was both amazed and horrified by how incredibly unorganized things were when it came to piecing together a case. Forensics did a piss poor job documenting the crime scene, there was tons of corruption and it was a jurisdictional nightmare.

Apparently, journalistic ethics at this time were optional. Reporters ran with whatever unconfirmed rumor story they felt like. One especially disturbing part of this book details a
Alex Severin
Feb 08, 2011 Alex Severin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: the-black-dahlia
I've read several books on this subject and this is my favorite.

John Gilmore's painstaking research is evident. It is very aparent throughout this book that this case holds more than an ordinary journalistic interest for him.

Reading this book for the first time gave me a sense of Elizabeth Short as a real person and not just a dark, mysterious alias or a crime scene photograph. She became a person.

Some of the book is written in a prose style. I'm sure there is plenty of conjecture and a littl
Nicole de Carvalho
Jun 01, 2012 Nicole de Carvalho rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone that likes a good mystery!
I’ve always been fascinated with the “Black Dahlia” case and have seen so many different cold case programs on this story. I was glad to finally be able to read the book and was very intrigued. This book provided a lot more detail than any TV show I’ve seen. I also enjoyed the uncensored pictures in the book and was not able to put the book down!
Jamie Severinski
Nov 06, 2013 Jamie Severinski rated it liked it
Overall it was a good read. However, a good portion of the information was based on speculation and conjecture. For someone just getting into learning about the murder of Elizabeth Short (The Black Dahlia) I would suggest reading this book last when looking for information.
Dec 20, 2007 Lisa rated it it was ok
Lots of interesting background on Elizabeth Short and her life. Flow of the book is choppy, distracting and confusing at times. Interesting final hypothesis on who the killer was.
Jennifer Dumont
Jan 29, 2012 Jennifer Dumont rated it liked it
Ok style, horrific story, disappointing end.
Geoff Souder
Feb 09, 2013 Geoff Souder rated it really liked it
Aside from the fact that the Ebook version of this book is riddled with typos, I found this book to be comprehensive and impartial. Living in Hollywood and knowing my fair share of desperate actors has allowed me to understand Elizabeth's somewhat dangerous lifestyle. The thing I like about it the most was that it used the available facts and some anecdotal stories that have been gathered over the years.

The fact is that we'll never know who murdered Elizabeth Short. The evidence that we have to
Benjamin Rothman
I found that this book was an enjoyable read, even though it was a little confusing at times. More than once I found myself referencing previous chapters to see exactly who Gilmore was referring to or interviewing. The lack of concrete dates also made it a little difficult to follow at times.

On the other hand, it opened, and seemed to close, the door on a very gruesome murder. There is a sense of sorrow for Elizabeth Short, the victim - and at the same time, a sense of impartiality from the auth
Tom Schulte
Jun 03, 2013 Tom Schulte rated it really liked it
The gruesome story of the 1947 Black Dahlia murder is a disturbing, true tale that includes the shiftless drifters of a Jim Thompson novel, dysfunctional familial pasts of Faulknerian dimensions and ghoulish slaughter of horrific intensity. As with Gilmore's previous titles on the Manson Family (Garbage People also on Amok) and Arizona fiend Charles Schmid (The Tucson Murders, Dial), the author's own story is woven into that of the victims and low-lifes here through meetings both chance and arra ...more
Doug Brunell
Jul 04, 2015 Doug Brunell rated it it was amazing
Shelves: true-crime
I think highly of this book. So much so that I have given it out as gifts. (Nothing says "I care" like an illustrated book on a grisly crime.)

The story of the Black Dahlia fascinates me. I even have dirt from the site where her body was found. I have watched many documentaries on the subject and have read far too many books on it. This is one of my favorites, and its authors assertions may not even be right. (I am thinking they aren't, actually.)

What makes it so good? It is written in Gilmore's
Tommie Collins
Jul 18, 2015 Tommie Collins rated it it was amazing
Loved this book! I felt like I really got an inside look at the life of Elizabeth Short. I had always thought she had a glamorous life & would have been famous if she had been able to live. After reading this I have an entirely different outlook. I feel sorry for her and think that her life was one disappointment after another. She never seemed to have a grasp on reality or a realistic view of the world. I think she had been told she was beautiful & was perfect for Hollywood and expected ...more
Dec 03, 2008 Deathmetalroze rated it it was amazing
This was an artfully-crafted true crime novel that I just couldn't put down. It was captivating, fascinating and treated me, the reader as if I were there or investigating this for myself, through presentations of evidence and little anecdotes throughout. The big secret about the Black Dahlia is danced around the entire time and when you figure it out, it all makes sense and it is UNBELIEVABLE! Unfortunately, I read this BEFORE the James Ellroy and seeing the movie, so those were HUGELY disappoi ...more
Julie Whiley
Nov 14, 2014 Julie Whiley rated it really liked it
I had seen the title of the book over the years and thought it was just some fictional or trumped up story about a long ago and small time movie star not worth my time but when I saw this version with the girls' actual picture it stuck in my mind and made me want to read it. It is a very haunting account of this girls short life and awful death. Her looks made her popular, but she danced to a dangerous tune of trusting everyone and anyone. The sheer fact that she remained alive as long as she di ...more
Jul 17, 2008 Francoise rated it liked it
Recommends it for: People interested in true murder stories
Recommended to Francoise by: Read about it in the newspaper
Easy to understand why this murder continues to fascinate people. The story actually boils down to an unfortunate, beautiful young woman (the crux of many an enticing mystery!) who has been rejected by her father. She lives on the fringes of society during and after WWII when things were in transtition in the U.S. Living on the fringes proves to be a dangerous lifestyle for Elizabeth Short. You are left with a sad feeling when you finish this book. You definitely feel like you know her. The auth ...more
Feb 16, 2008 Andy rated it really liked it
I've read every Black Dahlia book I've ever found, and never been terribly impressed by any of them, except for this one. I can't reveal what makes this book so incredibly special without giving away the incredible ending (and remember, this is not fan-fic, this is true).

If you are at all interested in the sordid side of 1940s - 1970s Los Angeles, this book is an absolute must-read. In my opinion, this is the only book you need to read on the Black Dahlia.

PLUS John Gilmore is an awesome guy in h
Dec 30, 2008 Nate rated it it was amazing
Shelves: crime
Gilmore's first-hand knowledge of the old Hollywood underworld brings a compelling realism to this horrific account of an infamous murder. I read this book at a point in my life when I was verging on nervous breakdown, mania and divorce. Gilmore's candidate for the Black Dahlia killer (and he makes a strong if unprovable case) coincidentally had the same name that I'd been using for the villain of some short stories. That pretty well freaked my shit.
Dec 24, 2014 Amanda rated it really liked it
I have been obsessed with the Black Dahlia case ever since I first heard about it over ten years ago, and while there are numerous documentaries and books written about Elizabeth Short and who may have killed her, many of which are completely outrageous, this book in particular I've found to be the most precise and accurate portrayal of Elizabeth's life and the facts of her death. And while I don't particularly believe the author's end theory, I do feel he has written the clearest portrait of th ...more
Leigh Anne
Aug 14, 2012 Leigh Anne rated it really liked it
This is one of those unsolved cases that has always intrigued me. This book is well done, and I liked how it focused not only on Beth Short's brutal murder, but also on telling the story of her life leading up to her death. I appreciated the detail the author put into covering the information of the case, and I discovered things that I'd not known about the murder. The author makes a case for his favorite suspect, but I still feel it's something that we'll never know for certain. I recommend thi ...more
Bre Conlon
Jan 14, 2015 Bre Conlon rated it really liked it
This book was so interesting I had a hard time putting it down. It sparks your interest from the get go. I highly recommend this story to anyone. The author is knowledgable and some of the information is truly shocking. You have an idea of what happened to Elizabeth Short, probably because of some reference in pop culture, but you realize not everything you heard or saw was factual. Good book, good story. Although, I do have to be honest, the picture portion of the book is graphic and nothing is ...more
Apr 14, 2014 J.M. rated it liked it
Provides a very in depth look at the Black Dahlia murder, including some speculation about the murderer himself, whom the author claims to have met. Didn't mention much about the killer's notes to the police and the press, and only linked one of the many similar unsolved crimes that happened around the same time with the case. Very detailed information on the autopsy reports and who Elizabeth Short was in life.
Alshia Moyez
Sep 24, 2011 Alshia Moyez rated it really liked it
I felt like the book left too many unanswered questions. Also, the ending was just one big question. I still got enjoyment out of the investigation aspects though, and medical reports. The "suspect" this author came up with wasn't convincing, and then of course....well, I won't ruin it for anyone. I enjoyed the book. I'll leave it at that.
Jun 02, 2008 Deborah rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I went through this period of Macabre and this satisfied my curiosity. This book is less of a read and more of a flicker through morgue reports and actual photos of the crime scene. Keep in mind the pics are EXTREMELY GRAPHIC and made me feel stone cold after reading it piece by piece--no pun intended.
Miranda  McHenry
Mar 16, 2012 Miranda McHenry rated it it was amazing
An incredible insight to the life of Elisabeth Short and what might have happened and who killed her.

After reading this book I felt really sad for her as it takes you through her life, her struggles, her dreams, and eventually her terrible ending.

Greatly written and an amazing read for anyone who wants to know about the Black Dahlia.
Mar 15, 2016 Arlene rated it it was amazing
This book went beyond expectation. The author shifts from before the murder and after the murder connecting the murder to Short's past life. It is an astonishing book for people interested in the criminal justice system. The book gives an insight to the actual investigation and the actual detective's point of view allowing the reader to have a sensation of the actual murder and investigation.
Margaret Mayo
Aug 20, 2014 Margaret Mayo rated it really liked it
You can't unsee the crime scene photos. The profile of the victim is haunting. Was she vixin, or pathetic victim? She managed to have the endemic misogyny of the era swirling about her like a cloak. Disturbing, and worth a read, if you are fascinated by this story. But it will scare you and maybe change you.
William Opdyke
May 27, 2014 William Opdyke rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of the most horrific cases in Los Angeles' history. Many have tried to make money off of the story. This is the most detailed account and profile of Elizabeth Short's life I have read to date. It's also provides a pretty detailed accounting of the evidence. As far as I am concerned, John St. P John ( Jigsaw John ) solved this case.
Jul 10, 2012 Katherine rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-already
This book is amazing and informative . This book I think is more closely related to the dahlia case . I read a lot of different books on the case and this one seems more possible to what had happened to Elizabeth short.
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author by this name in the Goodreads data base.

John Gilmore was born in the Charity Ward of the Los Angeles County General Hospital and was raised in Hollywood. His mother had been a studio contract-player for MGM while his step-grandfather worked as head carpenter for RKO Pictures. Gilmore's parents separated when he was six months old and he was subsequentl
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