Format: Mass Market Paperback, 371pp
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
I have a writing teacher who tells me that the difference between a man's romance novel and a woman's is that in the end of the woman's the girl gets the boy and they all live happily ever after; in the man's, the woman dies. Yes, that's right, the woman goes toward the light leaving the man with nothing but the memory of her love to keep him warm at night. But on the bright side he doesn't get the nagging, closet-hogging, three-hour-bath-taking woman who will try to change him from the rugged man he is into a man who actually does dishes or brushes his teeth. So it's a trade.
The Black Dahlia by James Ellroy is a Man's book (with the capital M). It was really well written. Fantastic writing. You really got a feel for the era and how people felt about it all, he did a wonderful job on the slang. I enjoyed that part of it a lot. I learned a lot of derogative sexual terms for African-Americans as well as Mexican-Americans. I didn't know some of those words before.
When you pick up this book you have to keep in mind that this is a fictionalized version of events that happed out in California in the 1940s. The real Elizabeth Short was never in a pornographic film, was not a prostitute, and was just a young naive girl looking for love.
“I never knew her in life. She exists for me through others, in evidence of the ways her death drove them.” Bucky Bleichert narrates the story of his life before and after the murder case of Elizabeth Short, also known as The Black Dahlia because of her penchant for tight little black dresses. While on a case, Bleichert and his partner Blanchard find the body of a woman. She is completely severed in half, her legs spread wide, and her mouth split from ear to ear. The murderer has completely drained her body of blood and has washed and styled her hair.
Bucky becomes obsessed with The Black Dahlia and eventually he falls in love with her. Everyone wants what they can't have, right? He sleeps with a girl who looks like her, even imaging her to be Elizabeth Short. Even when Bucky finally does find a form of happiness in the end, he promises Elizabeth his love.
The Black Dahlia is haunting, incomplete, because you never truly know what happened or who the murderer is. It is peopled with very real monsters in people skin; rapists, pedophiles, druggies, prostitutes, and killers, all the horror of humanity paraded in front of the ever constant Elizabeth Short.