The Black Dahlia Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of The Black Dahlia

Young ambitious cop Bucky Bleichert becomes drawn into the horrific torture-mutilation-murder of promiscuous aspiring Hollywood starlet Elizabeth Short, the "Black Dahlia" of the title. As his obsession intensifies, Bleichert becomes as brutal and immoral as the criminals he fights, but despite having lost almost everything, he does solve the baffling case by himself.
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The review of this Book prepared by Gary Roberts

Set in post-war Los Angeles (1947-1949), _The Black Dahlia_ centers on the partnership of two former prizefighters -- narrator Bucky Bleichert and Lee Blanchard -- who are now officers with the LAPD. The sex murder of a young woman, found sliced in half, sends the two on a mission not only to break the case but to deal with corruption, racism and abuse among their fellow cops, and face their own pasts and their somewhat complicated and grubby personal codes. This excellent noir police thriller would become the first part of Ellroy's superb, gritty and profane "LA quartet," to be followed by _The Big Nowhere_, _L.A. Confidential_, and _White Jazz_.
The review of this Book prepared by David Loftus

Chapter Analysis of The Black Dahlia

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Plot & Themes

Tone of story    -   Dry-cynical How difficult to spot villain?    -   Very difficult--no foreshadowing/clues Time/era of story:    -   1930's-1950's Spying/Terrorism Thriller    -   Yes What % of story relates directly to the mystery, not the subplot?    -   30% Kind of investigator    -   police procedural, American Kid or adult book?    -   Adult or Young Adult Book Crime Thriller    -   Yes Who's the terrorist enemy here?    -   evil subgroup in own govt Murder Mystery (killer unknown)    -   Yes General Crime (including known murderer)    -   Yes Who's the criminal enemy here?    -   finding a known killer

Main Character

Gender    -   Male Profession/status:    -   police/lawman Age:    -   20's-30's Ethnicity/Race    -   White/American


United States    -   Yes The US:    -   Northeast    -   West    -   California The Americas (not US):    -   Yes The Americas:    -   Mexico City?    -   Yes City:    -   Los Angeles    -   dangerous Small town?    -   Yes Misc setting    -   resort/hotel    -   fancy mansion

Writing Style

Accounts of torture and death?    -   very gorey descriptions deaths/dead bodies Explicit sex in book?    -   Yes What kind of sex:    -   descript of kissing    -   touching of anatomy    -   lesbians!    -   actual description of sex    -   descript. of breasts Unusual forms of death    -   asphyxiation    -   rough sex    -   perforation--bullets    -   perforation--swords/knives    -   blunt clubbing (like seals) Unusual form of death?    -   Yes Amount of dialog    -   roughly even amounts of descript and dialog

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James Ellroy Books Note: the views expressed here are only those of the reviewer(s).
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