‘The Black Dahlia’ by James Ellroy is about a woman who’s body is found in LA after being tortured and killed. The body is drained of blood and cut in half. Two police man are caught up in the investigation of this story, trying to find out who could possibly do this to another human being. However along the way, you find how this case has changed everyone’s lives, and their own personalities.
NOW, this book is fiction however based on a true story (this murder actually happened… gross) In real life, the killer has never been found, remaining a mystery. Wanting to read this due to it being a true story, James Ellroy is also known for creating fantastic crime novels. His own mother was sadly murdered when he was only 10 years old, therefore found interest in writing murder mystery books. More importantly, The Black Dahlia murder, he found this case a way to help his clinical depression. Hence how this found it’s way onto my book shelf.
This book, I feel two ways about it. The start was difficult to get into, boring in fact. The two officers (Lee Blanchard & Dwight Bleichert) who EVENTUALLY find the body start off by boxing eachother in a match? This part of the story I didn’t think was needed and really dragged. When reading crime novels, yes I want to know some back story of important characters but not have to read at least 70-100 pages of it before it starts to get interesting. This was a problem for me, however I pushed on. It was difficult I will be honest, but the story does start to pick up throughout.
The book is written in a way that I have not read before, I personally struggled with it (stupid me). It didn’t entice me and maybe that is something that is personal to me and how I read. I WANTED to really enjoy this book but felt like I was reading it because I was interested in the true story, not the actual book. Once I had got through maybe 100 pages? 150? I felt the story pick up, they found the body, they started searching…
The thing that saved this book for me was the fact that it started to pick up about half way into the book, it shows truly how murder cases can affect people and the people who are paid to solve them. It gives Lee and Dwight a personality rather than ‘We’re just here to solve a crime and go’, you see how it affects both of them differently after going through something this traumatic.
The characters, I didn’t feel close to any of them nor related to the detectives because I think the back story that was chosen to be given to them was irrelevant. If I had known more personal things about them, why were they so harsh to certain types of people? blah blah blah, but I did not know ANYTHING. Which annoyed me, I need to love or hate characters and that is what makes me interested in a book. This story did not have that.
Dwight also has no care about the case to begin with, he saw it as yet another murder, another case… and then for some weird reason starts to become dangerously obsessed with the murder victim and the case. It is a complete switch in personality and is not explained very well, if at all? I found his change in character interesting, however it was not pieced together, it made no sense.
The ending was good, very interesting and unexpected! I was happy with that. The murderer came to light (which is different from real life as nobody knows who committed this crime) so to make a story where the killer is revealed and make is believable and different was executed well. But did this make up for the rest of the book? Not for me.
A lot of people LOVE James Ellroy, and I can understand why. He is an interesting author, writing noir, true crime novels with that mystery element attached to them. However, I personally would not buy another book written by him, this one did not tick that box for me. I feel disappointed in myself for not liking it and NOT liking his writing style when others seem to really appreciate it. Sorry James, I really wish I could.
I give this book:
Two from me unfortunately!