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The Black Dahlia

(L.A. Quartet #1)

3.77  ·  Rating details ·  85,403 ratings  ·  2,679 reviews
On January 15, 1947, the torture-ravished body of a beautiful young woman is found in a vacant lot. The victim makes headlines as the Black Dahlia—and so begins the greatest manhunt in California history. Caught up in the investigation are Bucky Bleichert and Lee Blanchard: Warrants Squad cops, friends, and rivals in love with the same woman. But both are obsessed with the ...more
Paperback, 348 pages
Published August 16th 2006 by Mysterious Press (first published September 1st 1987)
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SDHoneymonster The murder of Elizabeth Short - the titular Black Dahlia - was a real event, and its grisly nature, the locations involved and subsequent events of th…moreThe murder of Elizabeth Short - the titular Black Dahlia - was a real event, and its grisly nature, the locations involved and subsequent events of the investigation are all important points in the novel and recreated in great detail. The story itself is not however - it's Ellroy's fictionalised account of the investigation and its possible solution, although it's so brilliantly done and horribly believable at times you have to remind yourself regularly that this isn't how it happened!(less)
George As a Catholic who believes that sexuality is among God's gifts to His children, I think I'm offended by what looks like a mindless equation of the sex…moreAs a Catholic who believes that sexuality is among God's gifts to His children, I think I'm offended by what looks like a mindless equation of the sexual and the sleazy.

But that aside: There are several relevant descriptions of sexual encounters, and mention of a good many more. And as it happens, many but not all of them meet Google's first definition of "sleazy": sordid, corrupt, or immoral(less)

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Shelby *trains flying monkeys*
Feb 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Shelby *trains flying monkeys* by: Jeff
I hated this damn book.
My friend Hulk-boy told me to read this author. I may punch him in the face.

It starts with the boxing fight of two young police officers Bucky Bleichert and Lee Blanchard. They become known as Mr. Fire and Mr. Ice. The hotshot team that got the LA police dept a raise with their boxing match.
They team together after the fight as partner's. Then a young woman's body is found. She has been cut in two and tossed out. Betty/Elizabeth Short's story will become ingrained into you
Dan Schwent
Elizabeth Short is found murdered and LAPD detectives Bucky Bleichert and Lee Blanchard catch the case. Can Bleichert and Blanchard bring in her killer before the case destroys them both?

Some time around 2005, my local bookstore owner pushed this on me. At the time, the only detective books I'd read were The Maltese Falcon and a few Hard Case books. It took me a week to get through but it felt like spending a month in jail. The Black Dahlia was a game changer for me, a powerful book that made me
Ah, the post-war years. America’s golden age when things were so much better than they are today. When no injustice ever occurred, and no one was unfairly treated. Every pay check was a fortune, every meal a banquet, and the worst crime was the odd rapscallion stealing a pie off a window sill. Or maybe sometimes the bisected body of a woman who had been brutally tortured would be left in an empty lot which would put a wildly corrupt police force in a frenzied media spotlight as the cops fruitles ...more
Nikita T. Mitchell
May 03, 2007 rated it it was ok
I'm not big on this whole "going green" trend, but today I thought about one thing all book lovers can do to contribute to society: use your library card more often.

You probably thought I had something clever to say. Sorry to disappoint but let me explain.

My Analysis of The Black Dahlia:
-324 pages in the book
-67 pages until the plot begins to unfold
-300 pages before the book becomes unputdownable, as I like to call it

What does that leave us with?
...approximately 67 pages of wasted paper and 23
Dave Schaafsma
Feb 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
So I think I am done for the moment with my little nasty obsessive foray into the world of Elizabeth (Bettie) Short and some of the (other, which is to mean besides me, now) men who were obsessed with her. Short, at 23, was found murdered and mutilated in a vacant lot in LA January 15, 1947, and it is still one of the most sensational murders in LA history, fueled by multiple accounts of the grisly details of her death, and speculation (which typically accompanies these kinds of stories) about t ...more
James Thane
Mar 23, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Everyman's Library has just published a new hardback volume containing all four of the novels that comprise James Ellroy's first L.A. Quartet. Ellroy was at my local bookstore a few weeks ago promoting this book and his new novel, This Storm, which is the second novel in his new L. A. Quartet. With signed copies of both books in hand, it seemed like a good time to return to The Black Dahlia, the first novel in the original series.

Set in booming and corrupt post-World War II Los Angeles, it takes
Jul 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: noir, thriller

As is true of many goodreads readers, I am a serial book hopper.
NOT TODAY! I devoured this book like a starving woman!
Today I discovered for myself- (not you guys! You probably discovered it many books ago!)a whole new genre and author- according to Wiki- neo crime noir. James Ellroy. Absolutely brilliant.

This is based on a true and unsolved crime in the late 1940s in LA, in the time of the zoot suit troubles and disturbed young ex marines and soldiers home from the War. Every one wants to
Jan 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: james-ellroy
Well,it ALWAYS takes me some time to sort out and gather blown-away pieces of my sensitive heart Mr.Ellroy has masterfully done for me.
It makes me feel sardonic,but I LOVE this process and of course,this GREAT work.

One thing that I like about this novel is the massive impact it has on me.The story hooks me up at the start,grabs me by the collar and drags me around violently through the whole story,and finally dumps me into the gutter(let me confirm this;I’m not an open masochist!) On this price
Nov 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow! WOW. Ten Stars Masterpiece.

Brutal and brilliant, raw and alive, elegiac and painful.
A masterpiece of crime-noir and personal desire with intense action, often obscene. Warning: Adults Only.

The young police characters introduced are only partly drawn before the horrifically mutilated body of a beautiful young woman is found in a vacant lot. An extraordinarily driven tale of partner-cops, the neophyte Bleichert and the old-pro Blanchard are utterly captured by the mystery.

Looking back, I kn
Aug 19, 2014 rated it really liked it
In January of 1947 the body of a woman, later identified as Elizabeth Short , was found mutilated and abandoned in a vacant lot Los Angeles. In the papers (ever eager to run with a story of this ilk), she became known as "the Black Dahlia" after a film of the same name.

Elizabeth Short aka The Black Dahlia 1947

In June of 1958 the assault and murder of another woman, Jean Hilliker (formerly Ellroy), hit the L.A. papers. Unfortunately, there were probably many other victims who came in between them, but these would be the
Jul 08, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: You
The Black Dahlia is a thriller
Ellroy’s masterpiece
Gritty, seamy, LA noir


Okay, so – what’s the most important singular event that has ever happened in your life? Think of something good. Bonus points if it was tragic. Extra lives if it sullied your early youth. Mortal Kombat Fatality (in an arcade, after school in the ‘90s) if it also involved sex and your mother.

Even if this important singular event didn’t involve these specific elements, surely you must have something to cont
Algernon (Darth Anyan)
Aug 20, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016

What this book is : an excellent thriller, a true page turner that keeps you rushing for the finish line, a character driven police procedural, a harsh, gritty, uncompromising expose of the darker side of police work in Los Angeles around 1946.

What this book isn't : a true crime story, the solution to the unsolved murder of Elizabeth Short, anchored in facts and carefully considered evidence. It's highly speculative, concerned more with packing as many surprises and twists as possible in a hi
Most people are familiar with the case of the Black Dahlia, one of the most infamous unsolved murder cases in U.S. history, where a young, pretty Hollywood starlet named Elizabeth Short is found in a vacant lot, her body mutilated, disemboweled, and cut in half. But this isn't a true crime book. Just as in the fantastic The Big Nowhere, the first book I read by author James Ellroy, he mixes L.A. history and fascinating fictional characters and weaves an awesome tapestry of the seedy and depraved ...more
Sep 26, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: black-as-night
This sure is a bleak one and that's an understatement. Aside from the unnecessary opening section focussing on the evolution of the partnership and an interminable chapter giving a blow by blow account of a boxing match this is pretty much classic Ellroy.

This is a true noir, not hard-boiled or pulpy but a story as black and self-destructive as they come. The memoir of a cop making bad choices, knowing that he is making them and unable to stop his own fate; leaving out the existential malaise tha
Sep 28, 2009 rated it it was ok
Ellroy, heard enough about him recently? Another GR craze. I’ve been putting off this review for two weeks now, and honestly, I still don’t want to write it. The thing is, while I only enjoyed this to an “OK” level, I really can understand the commotion surrounding the guy. He wrote this with great insight and intensity; it has a brilliantly complex storyline, and it is very well executed. The web of connections are aplenty, it has a ferocious acuteness to it, and there was a period of time duri ...more
RJ - Slayer of Trolls
Corrupt cops, dizzy dames, Hollywood hoopla, police procedural mashed up with harboiled dicks, this one has it all in spades. Ellroy hasn't yet surrendered to his full Demon Dog self, and the connection between his work and Chandler's is laid out bare like a corpse at the Coroner's. Like many of Ellroy's works, the plot is at times sloppy and silly, contrived and convoluted, but readers should just lay back and soak up the ambiance like an improv jazz solo. ...more
Michael Fierce
Apr 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of fim noir, murder mystery detective novels, serial killer novels
I should write a new review since I just finished a re-read but I'm not gonna yet. But if I did it would start something like this (image only):


My Old Review:

The Black Dahlia is the fictional account of Hollywood's most notorious murder case of Elizabeth Ann Short in 1947. The book, written by James Ellroy, is a reinvention in form of the noir gangster and detective murder mystery novels and films from the 30's and 40's. Borrowing much of it's language, imagery and style from the most famous of
Jess ❈Harbinger of Blood-Soaked Rainbows❈

E is for Ellroy
4.5 stars

I cannot believe that I have never read anything by this author before. The fangirl in me is stirring.

I have never read a lot of noir, and I'm not really sure why. I love it in film. Sam Spade, the black and white, the beautiful women with smoke circles around their heads and their beautiful hairdos with scarcely a hair out of place sitting on an inspector's desk with legs for days and shorter than normal skirts. Cops with suspenders smoking cigars with the boys, talking
Feb 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
On January 15, 1947, the torture-ravished body of a beautiful young woman is found in a Los Angeles vacant lot. The victim makes headlines as the Black Dahlia —and so begins the greatest manhunt in California history. Caught up in the investigation are Bucky Bleichert and Lee Blanchard: Warrants Squad cops, friends, and rivals in love with the same woman. But both are obsessed with the Dahlia— driven by dark needs to know everything about her past, to capture her killer, to possess the woman eve ...more
Apr 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The first book in the LA Quartet proves Ellroy is the epitome of noir. Not only does he exemplify the hallmarks of the genre but adds a realism and sense of desperation few can muster. Turning the pages of THE BLACK DAHLIA will infuse the reader with a keen sense of time and place via a perfect blend of heinous fact and deeply disturbed fiction. Making it all the more harrowing is the believability – not only of the details of the Black Dahlia case itself, but the actions of the officers and oth ...more
SO I managed to complete it this time!
First of all let me start by saying that this book is divided in 4 sections each one consisting of approximately 6-10 chpters. I didn't read the first section of the book this time, it was far too boring to go through it again.

The second section was bearable and a little bit more intriguing since this is the part where the Black Dahlia appears. Even though I didn't find the narration challenging for some reason I kept putting the book down. Like every 10 p
Jan 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a dark, noir, disturbing novel, where nothing is clear cut. Our narrator, ‘Bucky’ Bleichert is an LA cop, and boxer, who teams up with Lee Blanchard, after the two are pushed into a boxing match. Together, they are ‘Fire and Ice,’ and complement each other. Indeed, Lee, and his girlfriend, Kay, who was previously a gangster’s moll (to keep the appropriate 1940’s slang!) become the only family he has known.

Into an LA of ‘Zoot Suit’ riots, and ethnic tensions, comes the murder of Elizabet
Roman Clodia
Jan 03, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A testosterone-powered wild ride through the dirty streets of post-war LA - there's 'gritty' and then there's Ellroy revelling in the romance of the gutter. Nothing is too twisted to appear on page: murder, torture, masturbation, violent sex, obsession - and if the criminals are hard, the rogue cops are tougher, even when they hide a wistful yearning for something decent and clean.

Reflections and parallels abound: Bleichert and Blanchard whose names hint at other points of contact between them,
Jan 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
hard to get into the book, but if you're in it hits you, compelling, twisty, you feel like part of the 40s, for all hardboiled fans... ...more
Aug 05, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
On January 15, 1947 Elizabeth Short was found in an abandoned lot, severely mutilated and cut in two. Nicknamed the Black Dahlia in the press, she became a news sensation. It was a true crime, that was never solved. On the year of the 40th anniversary of the crime, James Ellroy gave a sense of (fictional) closure to the case with this masterful novel.

This is a story about obsession. People can be obsessed with many things; money, power… a good book, but in this case it’s a woman. A woman who mo
Paul Nelson
The Black Dahlia is my first read from James Ellroy and the opening novel of the L.A quartet of which L.A Confidential is the third in the series, both taken to the big screen. Set in Los Angeles in the late 1940's, the story is told through the eyes of Bucky Bleichert an LAPD officer and former boxer. He unwittingly finds himself in the middle of some political manoeuvring when a boxing match is arranged between himself and warrant officer Lee Blanchard.
They become friends and partners in the
aPriL does feral sometimes
‘The Black Dahlia’ by James Ellroy is phenomenal noir! The story is convoluted and dark. Evil and guilt not only haunts every character, they each succumb to the darkness, knowing they are fallen. Some revel in the evil, others drown. Slowly.

It’s 1946. The narrator, Officer Dwight ‘Bucky’ Bleichart, is hungry for a promotion and recognition in the Los Angeles police department. He is happy when Sergeant Lee Blanchard becomes his partner after an epic boxing match staged by the department between
Mar 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
The body of Elizabeth Short is found mutilated and the LAPD are tasked with nabbing the culprit. Superstar partners Dwight Bleichert and Lee Blanchard try to piece together Short’s missing days but with the media in a frenzy surrounding the brutal murder, making headway proves difficult. If that’s not enough, wading through the political waters of their post-war LA precinct offer an unnecessary distraction. Can the two warrants cops - dubbed Fire & Ice - put the perpetrator behind bars or will t ...more
Jan 23, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: fans of smoky bars and trenchcoats
Recommended to Shovelmonkey1 by: 1001 books list
* The door to the bar swings open and in strides a down at heel gumshoe with a cigarette drooping from his bottom lip. He strides through the bar, his stained raincoat flapping behind him as he pushes aside vacant bar stools and squints through the thinning veil of cigarette smoke. He spots his target and heads to a booth lined with vinyl seats at the back of the room. Pausing he grinds his cigarette butt beneath his heel, hands over the manuscript, tips his hat and leaves.*

And that is how this
Alex ☣ Deranged KittyCat ☣
DNF - 51%

With all due respect to all the people who like The Black Dahlia, this just isn't my cup of tea. There's too much testosterone in there.

I simply dislike the characters and find it hard to relate to any of them. It took me 4 days to read half of the book (and that says a lot).

And I find it appalling that this is a real case, that Elizabeth Short had been a real woman, truly killed in the horrific way portrayed in the book. I find it repulsive how the DA tries to gain popularity by exploi
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James Ellroy was born in Los Angeles in 1948. His L.A. Quartet novels—The Black Dahlia, The Big Nowhere, L.A. Confidential, and White Jazz—were international best sellers. His novel American Tabloid was Time magazine’s Best Book (fiction) of 1995; his memoir, My Dark Places, was a Time Best Book of the Year and a New York Times Notable Book for 1996. His novel The Cold Six Thousand was a New York ...more

Other books in the series

L.A. Quartet (4 books)
  • The Big Nowhere (L.A. Quartet, #2)
  • L.A. Confidential (L.A. Quartet, #3)
  • White Jazz (L.A. Quartet, #4)

Articles featuring this book

With clever detectives, missing jewels, murderous women, daring spies, and more, mysteries and thrillers deliver page-turning delight with...
313 likes · 351 comments
“Some people don’t respond to civility.” 24 likes
“Cherchez la femme, Bucky. Remember that.” 15 likes
More quotes…