6 Apr 2013



Los Angeles, 15th January 1947: a beautiful young woman walked into the night and met her horrific destiny

Five days later, her tortured body was found drained of blood and cut in half. The newspapers called her 'The Black Dahlia'. Two cops are caught up in the investigation and embark on a hellish journey that takes them to the core of the dead girl's twisted life...
........ Outer back cover.

FIRST SENTENCE (Prologue): I never knew her in my life.

MEMORABLE MOMENT (Page 158): ...... 'Hearty fare breeds hearty people, haute cuisine breeds degenerates .....'

MY THOUGHTS: Though not adverse to crime fiction if this hadn't been my Readers Group March read I doubt I would have picked The Black Dahlia up let alone read it to the end.

One of if not the most vile books I have ever had the misfortune to read, I can generally find some redeeming feature in any book but I'm afraid not with this one.

Badly written and full of colloquialisms I didn't understand - I know this can be a problem for us Brits reading certain American novels (and vice versa) BUT due to the context I generally have a rough idea of what is meant but alas this wasn't the case here - to me this story didn't so much as flow as jump from one violent (often sexual) episode to another.

Crude, overly violent and full of corrupt, sexist, racist characters (and that's just the supposedly good guys). Yes, I know the novel is set in the 1940's, a totally different era, but I'm really struggling to believe this is a totally realistic portrayal of that society at that time.

Not personally a fan of the 'star' rating system but as several of the sites I review on insist upon it I would like it known that I only award The Black Dahlia 1 star out of 5 as to award it none is not an option.

KEEP IT OR NOT?: A Readers Group read, I don't suppose it will surprise anyone to read I shan't be buying a copy of this.

Disclaimer #1 :Removal of any part of this post without my express consent is considered copyright infringement. This post was created by and for Petty Witter @ Pen and Paper. If you are reading this post on any other site please contact the original blog owner/reviewer.


Kimberly @ On the Wings of Books said...

I've always wanted to read this one so its disappointing that you didn't care for it :(

I have read quite a few books by British authors and for the most part I get the meaning of any colloquialisms from the surrounding text. If I can't (and if there are a lot) then I feel like the author didn't do their job properly.

Alyce said...

I had to stop over after seeing your description on facebook. Sounds like something I would hate too - but then I don't like crime fiction in the first place. :)

Kelly said...

Wow...you definitely didn't like this! I've never read it, but I've certainly heard of it. Isn't there also a movie version? Although I do enjoy some crime fiction, I don't guess I'll hurry to put this on my reading list. ;)

Aunt Mary said...

Dear Tracy,
I don't like reading crime fictions at all. I've read one or two but didn't find them interesting, they do not interest me. After reading the line 'Five days later, her tortured body was found drained of blood and cut in half.', I wouldn't have been able to read it further. You are very good at describing books. By just reading your review, I think I've read the book!
From now on if I ever fail to leave a comment on your post then it will be due to some network problem! Thanks for the honest review! :)
Thank you so much :)

Suko said...

One of if not the most vile books I have ever had the misfortune to read.

Think I'll pass on this one!

Cherie Reich said...

Ah, that's a shame you didn't enjoy it. I remember hearing about the movie a few years ago and always wanted to see the movie and perhaps read the book. Then again, I do love crime stories, so I might enjoy it better.

Naida said...

That's too bad. I do remember this being a film as well.

So many books, so little time said...

I think I remember reading this but not if I liked it or not and it was before I used Goodreads. I did read the red dahlia by Lynda La Plante and think I liked that is liked is th appropriate word.

I hate when this happens with a book, hopefully your next is a lot better.

Lainy http://www.alwaysreading.net

Michelle Vintagecobweb said...

Dear Tracy

I think my comment didn't take - redoing it.

Thanks for the honest review, I also like to tell it like it is if I dislike a book.

I have read other reviews on this book and they are mixed. This is not a book I would seek out to read, what did the other members of the book club think?

The things you described about the book are the same things I didn't like about Portnoy's Complaint and Clockwork Orange.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend.

Mama Zen said...

I've found that you pretty much either love Ellroy or hate him.

Kalyan said...

nice reading the review...

Yvonne@fiction-books said...

Hi Tracy,

I seem to have had a lot of James Ellory books donated into the charity shop just lately, so readers are either all like yourself, bought the book then can't stand to finish it, or have loved his style of 'noir' writing so much that they have gone out and bought loads of his books.

I have been tempted to buy one myself and see that I shall just have to do it now, so that I can judge for myself which side of the argument I am on.

He does sound like a bit of a 'Marmite' character, you either love him or hate him, there is no middle ground!

I don't know if you checked James out as a person, but you might find this link to his bio. page on the website interesting. I think you will agree that it could account quite easily for his style and almost aggressiveness in his writing...


That still doesn't mean that you should like him of course, your review is totally honest, just as it should be, I just wonder what others in your reading group thought of it?


....Petty Witter said...

My Readers Group meets on Thursday so I'll be sure to post their thoughts on the book after then though I expect most of them won't have actually read it.

Gina R said...

Hmm. Never read this one but I've heard it was brutal...content not delivery. Cie la vie...not every book nor author is for everyone. Better luck next read!

susan s. said...

Well, I haven't read the book, but it is based on a real murder in 1947, of a woman referred to as The Black Dahlia. So I don't know what classifies a book as crime fiction. It was a gruesome murder and there were low lifes involved. I don't think I could bring myself to read it, though.