The Black Dahlia by James Ellroy This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

February 7, 2012
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James Ellroy’s The Black Dahlia captivates its reader with an in depth and stimulating plot. The novel takes place in post World War II Los Angeles and tells the true mystery of Elizabeth Short, a young, gorgeous woman who’s mutilated corpse was found in a vacant lot on January 15 1947. Bucky Bleichert, an ex boxer and young policeman rising through the ranks, narrates the story as he works on the Short case with his partner and fellow ex boxer Lee Blanchard.

The approach Ellroy took when he wrote The Black Dahlia is quite an interesting one. He combines the true story of one of California’s most publicized murders and incorporates his own, fictional characters. Bucky and his partner Lee are referred to as “Mr. Fire” and “Mr. Ice” throughout the novel. The nicknames essentially sum up the differences between the two best friends; they were polar opposites, from their personalities to their boxing styles. While they work together on the Black Dahlia case Lee begins to go insane over finding who is responsible for the death of Elizabeth Short. Bucky can’t seem to calm his partner down before the chief notices his obsession and has to take Lee off the case. Lee completely looses it after he can’t work on the case and Bucky is left without a partner.

The fact that The Black Dahlia tells a true story can become hard to swallow while reading the gruesome detail in which Ellroy describes the torture Elizabeth Short had fallen victim to before her ruthless murder. The whole time reading I was rooting for
Bucky, the only character who appears genuine, to nail a lead and find the killer. Bucky’s excitement jumps off the page every time a clue or an overlooked detail arises. My heart would race with anticipation at each new lead, just hoping Bucky would catch the perpetrator.

Overall The Black Dahlia is completely worth reading. Constant curve balls keep the reader guessing and intrigued throughout the novel. Also, being based on a real murder mystery makes it that much more fascinating. I highly recommend the novel to anyone who enjoys suspenseful reading involving true events.





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