The Black Dahlia

By James Ellroy,

Book cover of The Black Dahlia

Book description

The highly acclaimed novel based on America's most infamous unsolved murder case. Dive into 1940s Los Angeles as two cops spiral out of control in their hunt for The Black Dahlia's killer in this powerful thriller that is "brutal and at the same time believable" (New York Times).
On January…

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Why read it?

4 authors picked The Black Dahlia as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

James Ellroy’s The Black Dahlia needs no introduction to the serious crime fiction fan.

Like Hughes’ novel, we’re in postwar LA, in 1947, following the murder of Elizabeth Short, a young Hollywood hopeful whose disemboweled body is found one morning in a vacant lot.

Ellroy had authored six previous novels by this point, but it’s here, with The Black Dahlia, that many, myself included, find his style truly begins to shine.

It’s a standout of neo-noir literature that stuns with its prose, characters, and plotting. You’ll study it, you’ll re-read it, and you’ll memorize passages from it, so you better…

The Black Dahlia is a piece of classic noir which takes us into the darkness of 1940s Los Angeles. Brilliantly paced and using pulsating vernacular, the novel is a disturbing journey through all the sleaze and horror of post-War America. Once hooked, you can delve into the other three novels in Ellroy’s LA Quartet.

Without question, the book that made Ellroy a literary celebrity. If it were not for The Black Dahlia, he might never have gotten past midlist sales and could have been forgotten. It’s based on the real-life unsolved murder of Elizabeth Short in LA, 1947. The subject is personal to Ellroy as his mother Jean Ellroy was also murdered in a case that went unsolved. Ellroy’s unforgettable fictional solution to Short’s murder is set against the backdrop of LA in its postwar boomtown years. The writing is so visceral that by the end of the book, the story will feel…

From Steven's list on the king of LA noir James Ellroy.

I was, and still am, obsessed by the story of the Black Dahlia. Is it any wonder that I fell completely under the spell of this novel? Ellroy writes a tight, violent vision of what a horrific case can do, psychologically, to detectives. Cops are no less human than the rest of society, and the constant exposure to the worst, darkest, most terrible aspects of humanity erodes them. The Black Dahlia demonstrates this erosion brilliantly. 

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