Jess ❈Harbinger of Blood-Soaked Rainbows❈'s Reviews > The Black Dahlia

The Black Dahlia by James Ellroy
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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 smoking cigars with the boys, talking about the "good ole days." The drawn out speak, talk of tinsel-town, tortured souls. I eat this shit up.

I could almost hear Josh Hartnett's quiet and introspective voice narrating this tale of two cops and their obsession with the Black Dahlia murder. You see, this book isn't really about Elizabeth Short. It's about Bucky Bleichert and Lee Blanchard, two ex-boxer cops. Partners. Best friends. In love with the same woman. Obsessed with the same woman. Guided by their own demons. Demons that force their obsession with a dead girl. Demons that deal in death and destruction. Demons that cause catastrophe.
Bumfuck detective too blind to clear the case he was a homicide accessory to.
The weak point in a fairy tale triangle.
Best friend to a cop-bank robber, now the keeper of his secrets."

And that girl. That poor girl. They way those men saw her. They gave her a story. They gave her life.

This book is not for the faint-hearted. There is some graphic stuff here. The way this poor girl was murdered is absolutely atrocious. And Ellroy doesn't leave anything to the imagination. Usually I am a big fan of "show rather than tell" in my stories, but in this case, the opposite is true. Because Ellroy is a truly gifted writer, and his words gut you. They rip you apart. They make you angry and hurt and feel the pain of these characters. Their dialogue is raw and unfettered. Description is without nuance. But it all works.
In her calmest schoolteacher voice, Kay Lake Bleichert said, 'I almost told you. But you started whoring again, collecting her pictures. I just wanted revenge on the woman who ruined the two men I loved.'

This story also takes a while to unfold, but the end result is totally worth every single moment. I thought about this book and these characters for so long after I turned the last page. It even makes me want to watch the very lukewarm movie again. This book will make you angry and sad. It will cause you to think about things in your own life, your past. It will make you cringe. You may or may not like it. But regardless of your feelings or your reactions to this book, you will have to admit that there are some real emotions here, and only a talented writer can make them so real.

This book is also very loosely based on the real Black Dahlia murder which was never solved. I like the approach that Ellroy took with it, and in his afterward, described why he took the approach that he did. Reading his own words about his why just served to solidify my reactions to everything. I ached for that poor girl and the other nameless victims of violence and abuse that haven't made the front page. This book is for them. It ultimately made me sad.
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Reading Progress

December 6, 2011 – Shelved
March 26, 2015 – Started Reading
April 14, 2015 –
page 90
26.71% "I can't believe I have never read anything by Ellroy before!! I am totally fangirling right now!\n "
April 21, 2015 –
page 198
58.75% "I'm totally crushing on a buck-toothed cop from postwar Hollywood right now."
April 24, 2015 –
page 245
72.7% "Why does stupid psychology paper writing need to take precedence over finishing this novel today? I just wanna reeeeeeeead!\n "
April 28, 2015 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-4 of 4 (4 new)

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Alienor ✘ French Frowner ✘ Oh I just realized that I never rated this one here. I remember really loving it, but it's been a long time^^ Have you seen the movie?

Jess ❈Harbinger of Blood-Soaked Rainbows❈ I saw the movie quite a few years ago. I remember liking it but not loving it, but knowing that the story is much more suitable for a book than a film......but I think enough time has gone by that I don't feel like the movie was spoilery, so I'm really excited to read this one. I just need something with action.

Shelby *trains flying monkeys* This one did move slowly for me. I still liked it but it's not one of those action packed ones. :)

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