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The Black Dahlia, by James Ellroy and Stephen Hoye (Narrator)

13½ HOURS ON 11 CDs

The Black Dahlia

This is a thought provoking and very intriguing book that takes place during the 1940s when times were so different from today. Prices of things, expressions and clothing are obvious differences, but the most surprising difference is how police were allowed to operate 60 years ago. Back talk to a cop would cost a person his teeth, and brass knuckles were standard attire for an interrogation. At the start of the book one cop says to his buddy and partner, "Cherchez la femme," and these become the words around which this story revolves. A young woman's body is found in an empty lot in Los Angeles, brutally mutilated and unrecognizable. Finger prints identify her as Elizabeth Short, a pretty young girl who had the reputation of being a bar hop. Because she always wore black as she sought out men, the media nicknamed her The Black Dahlia.

Finding Dahlia's murderer becomes a must for the police department, but an obsession for police partners Lee Blanchard and Bucky Beichert. Although neither of them ever met the Dahlia in life, her death has a profound effect on them and proves to destroy them both. It is surprising that she holds more and more influence over them as the story unfolds. Along with the lives of the two police partners and the woman they both love, Kay, there are many others whose lives are drastically changed because of the Dahlia.

Stephen Hoye does a masterful job of portraying the contrasts between the brutality of the crime and the innocence of the time, between the hope and the despair felt by the players and between the dark Hollywood underworld and the bright California sunshine. His skill is impressive throughout the audio book, but it is most apparent during the rapid-fire exchanges between police and lowlifes.

James Ellroy includes a personal essay at the end of the story where he describes the circumstances that led up to his creation of this fictionalized account of an actual Hollywood murder. Although the original Dahlia's killer was never found, in Ellroy's tale, the identity of the killer is exposed in a shocking revelation as topsy-turvy situations abound. I highly recommend this book for many reasons: excellent writing, entertaining narration, gripping story and fascinating characters. As said before, "Cherchez la femme" and enjoy this book.

John Mormon

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