Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Black Dahlia

I have seen the movie, which at that time I thought slow and boring. I had heard about the famous case, though, perhaps around late 80's  when I had a couple of American crime noir books to read. Different from the movie, I think this is one of the best crime books I've read.

At first I needed time to get used to the writing style, which quite hard for me to understand. Too many slangs and the way the sentences had been built was quite different. I also don't prefer the story telling from first person point-of-view.

The central character was a 29 year-old patrolman (and boxer) named Dwight Bleichert, who early in the story joined the Los Angeles Police Department as a Warrants detective. He and his partner Lee Blanchard were lent to Homicide to help investigating the Black Dahlia murder: a body of a tortured 22 year-old Elizabeth Short had been found in a vacant lot in January 15, 1947. The case was so famous that 200 cops were sent to work it. For Bleichert and Blanchard, the case became an obsession. It took time, but Bleichert managed to track back the missing last week in Elizabeth Short's life and find the killer.

In the real life, the case was unsolved; but this book was a fiction and the writer gave a conclusion... 2 years later. What made this book interesting was the details. So many crimes in this life, and in 1947 they were no different; although I believe they weren't as many as today where almost everyday we hear murder news on TV. Bleichert and Blanchard didn't work on the Black Dahlia case only, and some of them were for their own interest. These two heroes in the book were not saints and they were corrupted, both of them.

While reading the last pages and I thought, "Okay, so that person was the killer..." Mr Ellroy added something and the story was moving to a different direction. The richness of the story also made me forget this and that, like who killed Lee etc and in the last pages they were all answered and I finished the last page with satisfaction.

I just read the film page from Wikipedia: "DeWitt is gunned down by Lee, standing on the stairs across the atrium. Bucky sees a man sneak up behind Lee, wrapping a rope around Lee's neck. Lee fights back while Bucky, paralyzed with shock, watches from across the atrium as a second shadowy figure steps out and slits Lee's throat. Lee and the man holding the rope fall over the railing to their deaths several floors below."  This scene was so different from the book and reminded me why I didn't like the movie very much. I'm not a fan of John Hartnett either.

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