Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The Black Dahlia

The Black Dahlia / James Ellroy, 325 pp.

After finishing Rick Geary's Black Dahlia I thought I would compare it with the fictional treatment of Elizabeth Short's story, told by the author of L.A. Confidential, Suicide Hill and others.  Short was murdered in particularly gruesome fashion in 1947 Los Angeles; the crime was never solved.  Ellroy tells her tale through the narrative of two fictional detectives, Lee Blanchard and Dwight "Bucky" Bleichert, former boxers who happen to be in love with the same woman.

The novel was first published 30 years ago and its setting takes us back 70 years.  And it sure reads like a trip in a time machine!  There is one heck of a lot of misogyny, racism, and homophobia packed into these pages, most of it a perfectly accurate depiction of the setting, no doubt.  The lingo - a very noir LAPD-ese - is great fun, but it took some getting used to.  And the story?  On that point, I would have to agree with the rave reviews on the jacket.  Detective fiction doesn't get much better than this.  But I think my next LA noir read will be an Easy Rawlins by Walter Mosley.  Same time, same place, but a very different perspective.

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