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The Black Dahlia (L.A. Quartet #1)

3.75  ·  Rating details ·  70,369 Ratings  ·  2,096 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 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…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)

Community Reviews

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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
...more
Dan Schwent
Aug 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016, 2016-books
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
...more
Kemper
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
...more
kohey
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
...more
Emma
Jul 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: noir, thriller
Well.

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
...more
Maria Clara
Jun 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ufff! Es como un directo a la mandíbula! Un golpe que no te esperas y que te atrapa en una voragine de locura y violencia, que hace que al final no sepas quienes son los buenos y quienes los malos; si es que los hay! Un mundo donde sus protagonistas no son perfectos, al contraio, juegan bajo una doble o triple moralidad, que les permite sobrevivir a sus propias decisiones y errores. Poco más puedo decir, salvo remarcar las palabras del genial Stephen King: “Si me preguntan quién es el mejor nove ...more
Mara
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 two murder
...more
David 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) men who were obsessed with her. Short, at 23, was found murdered and mutilated in a vacant lot 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 the nature of Short’s sensationalized (se ...more
Algernon
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
...more
William
Nov 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow. Brutal and brilliant, raw and alive, elegiac and painful. A masterpiece of crime-noir and personal desire with intense action, often obscene. The 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 captured by the mystery.

Looking back, I know that the man possessed no gift of prophecy; he simply worked
...more
Izzy
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

UGH. SHUT UP, me.

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
...more
Tfitoby
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
...more
Jess ❈Harbinger of Blood-Soaked Rainbows❈

E is for Ellroy

Read a book based on a true story.

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 smok
...more
Ben
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
Richard
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
Steve
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
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
...more
Brandon
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 wi ...more
Eirini Proikaki
Nov 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Η 23χρονη Ελίζαμπεθ Σορτ βρέθηκε δολοφονημένη και κατακρεουργημένη σε ένα οικόπεδο το 1947.
11 χρόνια αργότερα,το 1958,βρίσκεται στραγγαλισμένη και βιασμένη η Τζενίβα "Τζιν" Χίλικερ,η μητερα του 10χρονου τότε Ελρόι.Ο μικρός Τζαίημς επηρεάστηκε πολύ απο το θάνατο της μητέρας του με την οποία είχε μια λίγο περίεργη σχέση και ταύτισε στο μυαλό του τις δυο γυναικες όταν διάβασε για την Ελίζαμπεθ σε ένα βιβλίο.
"Δεν μπορούσα να πενθήσω ανοιχτά για την Τζιν.Μπορούσα όμως για την Μπέτι.Μπορούσα να διοχετ
...more
Shovelmonkey1
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
...more
Josh
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
Maria Thomarey
Aug 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Πισω απο τα λαμπερά φώτα του Hollywood, πισω απο τις υπέροχες λεωφόρους και τον λαμπερό ήλιο του Λος Αντζελες, υπάρχει ενας κοσμος καθολου αγγελλικός ή λαμπρός. Ενας κοσμος σαπίλας, σήψής, διαστροφής Και διαπλοκής. Η μαφία, η αστυνομία, το FBI,ο κίτρινος σκανδαλοθηρικος τύπος, οι επειχηρματιες και τα συμφέροντά τους κυβερνούν αυτόν τον κοσμο. Και αυτόν ανατέμνει στην Μαύρη Ντάλια ο Ελρου.
Ενα έγκλημα που δεν εξυχνιαστηκε ποτε-οπως και η δολοφονία της μητέρας του συγγραφέα-γινεται η αφορμή αυτής
...more
Jemidar

So gripping that I read this virtually in one sitting, but definitely not for fainthearted. This is 1940s LA at it's gritty, sleazy best with lashings of testosterone, violence, sexism, racism, blackmail, corruption, bad cops, shoddy developers, family secrets and the odd necrophiliac. The characters are way past being flawed; they are totally f*cked up. And the details of the murder are grisly.

Classic noir based on true crime, with the investigation being fictionalized into one man's obsession
...more
Richard
Mar 27, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook, crime
6/10

Peaks and troughs throughout this novel; I loved the style of writing, the era, the intrigue of the murder. But overall it felt a little bloated and some of the points didn't have the same impact if it was a tighter novel.

I liked the build up of the book. Others have said its slow and didn't add anything but I liked the background on the main characters and enjoyed Bucky's ascension through the ranks. I liked the trio too, Kay always coming across as a bit of an enigma. My attention just co
...more
Adam
I've had plenty of bad things to say about James Ellroy over the years, but his work continues to compel me. I found the writing style of American Tabloid unreadable, and the novels of his that I have read have ranged from awful (Brown's Requiem) to pretty good (LA Confidential and White Jazz), but no matter how powerful I found them in stretches or how vivid the subject matter, I always had reservations about his novels.

For whatever reason, however, I thought The Black Dahlia was really good, a
...more
Procyon Lotor
Dude, check this out!

La Dalia Azzurra è un film del '46. Soggetto e sceneggiatura di Raymond Chandler. Un delitto in una città violenta in una nazione violenta appena uscita dalla guerra più feroce.
Fiction.
Un anno dopo ci fu un delitto.
Realtà.
Violento? Tutti lo sono, ma se esiste una scala Richter del delitto, questo torceva i ponti, fletteva le cattedrali, abbatté una piramide. Così come le ricadute possono essere molto più gravi della prima manifestazione della malattia, il caso della Dal
...more
Eric_W
Dec 29, 2008 rated it really liked it
"I want to be known as the greatest crime novelist who ever lived." Strong words from James Ellroy, whose novels combine the harsh dialogue and dark characters of Raymond Chandler and the evisceration of dirty family secrets that Ross MacDonald was so good at. The Black Dahlia takes place in Los Angeles just after the end WW II. Two officers, Mr. Ice and Mr. Fire, as they are nicknamed for their boxing styles -- they are both ex-boxers -- return to the ring for the glory of the LAPD and its tax ...more
LENA TRAK
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
...more
Ginny_1807
Montagne russe
Una storia torbida, di corruzione, imprudenza, squallore, disillusione e morte. Ma anche la storia dell'ossessione che accomuna due uomini, dilagando insidiosamente nel loro intimo fino a minare il loro equilibrio, la loro amicizia e la loro stessa esistenza.
Questa ossessione contagia in qualche modo anche il lettore, che viene come risucchiato nel meccanismo ammaliante - e al tempo stesso inquietante e insidioso - di una indagine minuziosa, che mette via via in luce i cupi retrosc
...more
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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
More about James Ellroy

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)

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“Some people don’t respond to civility.” 20 likes
“Cherchez la femme, Bucky. Remember that.” 14 likes
More quotes…