The Black Dahlia by James Ellroy

The Black Dahlia, James Ellroy,  1987


My favorite quote: “The longer I listened, the more they talked about themselves, interweaving their sad tales with the story of the Black Dahlia, who they actually believed to be a glamorous siren headed for Hollywood stardom. It was as if they would have traded their own lives for a juicy front-page death.”

Notable characters: Dwight “Bucky” Bliechert, a boxer-turned-police officer; Lee Blanchard, his buddy and fellow officer who becomes as obsessed with the Black Dahlia case as Bucky; Kay Lake, the woman both men are in love with (if Bucky, Kay, and Lee had Facebook pages, their relationship status would definitely say “it’s complicated.” Not that they had Facebook in the 40s — I’m pretty sure they only had MySpace then — but the point is, it’s complicated)

Most memorable scene: The discovery of Elizabeth Short’s mutilated corpse, which is not only historically accurate but written James Ellroy-style, which is to say, you won’t forget it. *shudders* I mean, who does that to a person?? Ye gads

Greatest strengths: Character development. But then, it’s James Ellroy, so that’s to be expected. The characters in The Black Dahlia — like the characters in all James Ellroy’s books — are relatable and life-like. Even when you don’t like them, you kinda like them

Standout achievements: The Black Dahlia is a crime fiction novel based on the unsolved 1947 murder of a woman named Elizabeth Short. While remaining true to the known facts, James Ellroy picks up where the real case left off, and I think he did it well. I admire that. It takes guts (no pun intended)

Fun Facts: The Black Dahlia is the first book in James Ellroy’s LA Quartet series, all of which take place in Los Angeles in the 1940s and 1950s. The books, in order, are The Black Dahlia, The Big Nowhere, L.A. Confidential, and White Jazz

Other media: There’s a 2006 movie of the same name starring Josh Hartnett, Scarlett Johansen, and Hilary Swank, directed by Brian De Palma. Sounds pretty good, right? Well, it isn’t. I know James Ellroy sang its praises and everything, and you can’t argue with the author’s vision — but really? It’s a hot mess, you guys. Without the hot part, though 

What it taught me: The Black Dahlia’s body was discovered by some lady taking her young daughter for a walk one day, and I’ll bet that little girl was traumatized for life. That’s why if I ever come across a woman cut in half in an empty lot near a sidewalk, I’m just going to keep walking. Let somebody else deal with that shit, you know? I mean, what are you going to do — go ask if she wants a glass of water or something? She’s cut in half. I doubt very much that people who are cut in half even get thirsty, so there’s really nothing you can do for her. So, that’s what this book taught me: to mind my own business and just keep walking 

How it inspired me: James Ellroy’s writing ‘voice’ is one of things that has made his work so famous — and it’s the kind that gets into your head. Sometimes, I still wake up with James Ellory whispering in my ear and I’m like, “Dammit, James Ellroy! Shush!” But he doesn’t shush … he just keeps talking and talking 

Additional thoughts: I know everyone thinks they’ve pegged the Black Dahlia’s murderer (including James Ellroy) but I’m not entirely convinced they’ve got the guy. I think there are too many missing pieces (no pun intended) to wrap it up just yet. What really amazes me is that no one has even considered the possibility that aliens were involved. I mean, there’s no proof it wasn’t aliens and that can only mean only one thing, right? It was definitely aliens

Hit or miss: Hit. Because it’s James Ellroy

Haunt me:

Read The Black Dahlia

Published by Alistair Cross

Alistair Cross grew up on horror novels and scary movies, and by the age of eight, began writing his own stories. First published in 2012, he has since co-authored The Cliffhouse Haunting and Mother with Tamara Thorne and is working on several other projects. His debut solo novel, The Crimson Corset, was an Amazon bestseller. The Black Wasp, book 3 in The Vampires of Crimson Cove series is on its way. Find out more about him at: ********************************************************************************************* In collaboration, Thorne and Cross are currently writing several novels, including the next volume in the continuing gothic series, The Ravencrest Saga. Their first novel, The Cliffhouse Haunting, was an immediate bestseller. Together, they hosted the horror-themed radio show Thorne & Cross: Haunted Nights LIVE! which featured such guests as Anne Rice of The Vampire Chronicles, Charlaine Harris of the Southern Vampire Mysteries and basis of the HBO series True Blood, Jeff Lindsay, author of the Dexter novels, Jay Bonansinga of The Walking Dead series, Laurell K. Hamilton of the Anita Blake novels, Peter Atkins, screenwriter of Hellraiser 2, 3, and 4, worldwide bestseller V.C. Andrews, Kim Harrison of the Hollows series, and New York Times best sellers Preston & Child, Christopher Rice, and Christopher Moore. ********************************************************************************************** Currently, Thorne & Cross are hosts of Thorne & Cross: Carnival Macabre, where listeners can discover all manner of demented delights, unearth terrifying treasures, and explore the dark side of the arts.

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