Saturday, 28 July 2012

Book review: The Black Dahlia by James Ellroy

Black DahliaBlack Dahlia by James Ellroy
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I didn't know much about the story of the The Black Dahlia apart from the fact it was a true story in America in the forties. Elizabeth Short became immortalised for her disfigured and disembowelled body.
First of all, I love James Ellroy's style of writing. I felt like I was in a film noir, and could picture all of the detectives, the clothes, the cars. He hit the nail right on the head in terms of language used and speech. Sometimes I find that authors can get so bogged down in making sure the speech is correct for the time period that it becomes hard to understand but this didn't happen with Ellroy.
The actual story is brilliant, although I felt like it had several endings. I won't write down much detail here, but at at least two times during the book I felt it was coming to a close despite the other hundred pages. However this isn't necessarily a bad thing, when you felt everything had been wrapped up there was another strand left to unravel and pick at.
The wide array of characters were brilliant and some were distinctive, but a lot of policemen could be quite similar and I would have to reread parts or go back to the beginning to remember who they were. My only other criticism is that we could be introduced to a character at the beginning, they wouldn't appear for a hundred pages, then they'd come back and we would just be expected to remember everything about them. With a lot of characters, that was quite difficult.
Overall a brilliant, tense, noir thriller and I must say I was happy with who Bleichart discovered the murderer to be. It sounds quite a strange thing to say, but I was expecting Ellroy to just pluck some random person to be the killer, but he built a sound case with someone that we'd known for the majority of the story. It also made me want to research Elizabeth Short more and find out about her life.

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