am 11. Januar 2000
I first read Ellroy when on a friends recomendation I picked up LA Confidential just before the movie came out. Between the choppy writing style, the 50's hip lingo, and complex plot full of fascinating characters LA Confidential secured a place on my all time favorite books list. In fact I loved it so much that I wanted to go back and read it again for the first time. A friend of mine told me that the next best thing would be buying a copy of Black Dahlia. I have to admit this book was not as cool as LA, but it is a great book in it's own right. I absolutely loved it! I couldn't put it down! I will warn you that it IS brutal in it's descriptions of the violence that befell Elizabeth Short in the 40's (The murder and the state of the victim as well as some other parts of the investigation are in fact horrifically true). Also the plot is so far beyond twisted that I had to reread many chapters just to keep track of what's going on. The characters are all flawed and obsessive (Though not as badly in LA Confidential) and the conclusion when it comes is well worth the wait. I highly recommend this book as well as Ellroy's latter "The Big Nowhere" and of course"LA Confidential."
am 10. Mai 2000
Some just don't get it. If you're going to recommend James Lee Burke as an alternative, then Ellroy is not for you. Burke is a good writer, but his novels are about piling HEAVY descriptive prose on top of the thinnest hairline of plot. I don't mind reading Vachss, when I feel like being fed a sermon (talk about self-indulgent). Ellroy strips away the fatty narrative, and in return provides more story, more plot, more meat. Some folks like their vegetables, some like chicken without the skin...but some like a thick and bloody sirloin that takes a week to digest. For those folks, I recommend this novel, and the Chef's Special: White Jazz. I defy you to find another novel as raw and tasty.
am 20. Juli 2000
Fans of Chinatown, L.A. Confidential, film noir, and mysteries in general will love this book. Ellroy's style is fast-paced and thrilling; the novel is impossible to put down. The ending might strike some as over the top, but I was too enthralled to notice; Ellroy is such a tense and engaging storyteller that I am willing to follow his characters from LA to Tijuana to Mars. The characters -- morally shady, complex, human -- are wonderfully developed as well. That the novel is based on the actual Dahlia case adds an especially unnerving tone, making it a eerie and engrossing read that will haunt you long after it ends.
am 24. September 1999
The Black Dahlia is the best of the books by James Ellroy that I've read, but it's still unbelievable. I think it's a question of the prose style. Ellroy's prose is highly self-conscious, highly percussive, highly alliterative. It's loaded with slang and strange diction. It's full of sentences that you have to read two or three times to understand. The twisted syntax--not to mention the drug use, corruption and violence which permeate The Black Dahlia and Ellroy's other books--seem the work of an author whose sensibility was formed after Vietnam and Watergate. As a result, the style of The Black Dahlia comes off as anachronistic, a projection of late 20th century attitudes back onto 1940s Los Angeles. Reading the book, I kept asking myself whether people living then would express themselves in this way, whether these events were actually credible, and I kept saying no.
But if the book as a whole doesn't work, it has brilliant individual scenes, like the boxing match near the beginning, the gothic trip to Tijuana, and the hot afternoon in L.A. when the detective finally solves the murder, with each of the long-planted clues falling neatly into place. Ellroy also succeeds in "opening up" the book to give a sense of the way life is actually lived. Characters appear, go away, and come back. Someone mentions a name and tells an anecdote in a casual, chatty way, and later on the name becomes important to the solution. Or it's just an anecdote, but it builds the impression of a city and a way of life beyond the tight little circle of characters created by the mystery. Ellroy is positively generous with this kind of detail, which is so often missing from the mystery genre. And it's a talent possessed by great masters of fiction like Tolstoy and Faulkner.
If only Ellroy would stop trying so hard with his prose style. The subtext of The Black Dahlia seems to be: "I'm James Ellroy, and I'm writing this! Boy, am I writing this!"
am 2. September 1999
There I was you see, I walked into the book store, the whole place smelled like old moldy books. So I see this old broad behind the counter. Had a couple of miles on her, sort of like me. So I ask her, trying not to sound too stupid, "Do you have any Elway books?" She looked at me, smiled and said "who?". Elway, you know, wrote L.A.Confidential". She said "Oh, you mean Ellroy". She then walks over to the used paper back mystery section and said, "All I have by Ellroy is "The Black Dahlia". It's based on a murder that happened in L.A. a few years ago". So I picked my brain, thinking, " yeah I read something about this Ellroy guy in the newspaper a couple of years ago". So I buy the book, looks like it is on its last legs, pages are almost yellow and ready to fall out. I take the thing home, read the back cover, get an idea of the story and start to read it. Then after reading a few pages, I'm hooked. I'm turning page after page, my eyes feel like two hot burning coals. I'm sweating, my brain feels like it's been scooped out, slammed against the wall and it's oozing down like cauliflower mixed with vanilla yogurt. I feel like laying two raw pieces of pork chops alongside my head so I can cool off. I read this book in two days. My whole life came to a stop. Never did have a clue on how it would end; yeah there were little clues here and there, but my little pea-picking brain never picked them up. Now I says to myself, "this Ellroy guy can really write". Now I'm afraid to read any more of his books. I don't want my life to come to a stop again. I'm an old retired copper, read my share of mysterys in my day, but I've got stuff to do around the house, I can't just read all day. So be aware ! Be prepared when you read this book. It's gritty, it's tough, it makes most mystery thrillers read like Peter Pan. I'll keep this book forever...Very intense, not for the light hearted! Make sure that you are ready for this. It ain't like picking daisies or taking a walk in the park with fido. This is a knock down, drag out, real life thriller that will knock your socks off. Maybe someday in the middle of winter when it's raining baby elephants and I can't do anything else, I'll even think about reading another Ellroy book.I don't think that my heart can take it......
am 21. März 2000
I believe that James Ellroy's work makes for better movie fodder than simple reading, as long as there's a skilled director to make more rounded portrayals of his characters and streamline the plot. Curtis Hanson's movie version of "L.A. Confidential" is an astounding version of an Ellroy book. "The Black Dahlia" is a pungent, police detective story set in L.A. in the late 40s. Ellroy is great at setting moods and describing places in time (he paints a far simpler, yet in some ways more seedy and hateful, Los Angeles than the modern version). However, his noirish dialogue is pretty clunky to read, his characters a bit caricaturistic and overwrought, and the plot takes weird, twisted turns that seem pretty implausible at times. As the book wears on, the plot gets stranger and the scenes of gore and depravity get nastier. Ellroy is brilliant at describing what a mutilated, cut in half, and blood-drained female body looks like, but after about the 30th such description you may find yourself saying "enough! I get the point!" Definitely an enjoyable read for detective and police genre devotees, a mixed bag for others. I do, however, greatly admire Ellroy's archivist, almost obsessive sense of history, especially his vast knowledge of the history of crime in L.A. (of course, having his mother die a brutal death there in the 1950s might have had something to do with it)
am 22. September 1999
Having read and loved 'American tabloid' and 'LA Confidential' (the movie version was absolutely robbed at the Oscars - it was a far superior piece of film making than 'Titanic') I bought 'The Black Dahlia'.
It has that familiar staccato, hit-em-between-the -eyes Ellroy style, but I found it had a little more going for it than 'LA Confidential' (don't get me wrong - I thought that book was fantastic). I think this is because it's a little easier to follow. I was glued to each page and just when I thought that I knew who the killer was there was a sting in the tail.
As a study of the vileness of some human behaviour, I was left shaken. I found the story complex and believable - just like the characters. In Ellroy's writing there are no really good guys, just varying degrees of badness and corruption (perhaps we should exclude Russ millard here, but he was a relatively minor character). Ellroy seems to have captured what people really are like.
The book is magical and transports you to post war LA as effectively as if it were a time machine.
In the end it is a shattering, amazing and riveting study of psychosis, murder and lust. Read it!
am 4. April 2015
Eigentlich mag ich keine Cop-Thriller und der Ellroy machte mir den Einstieg ziemlich schwer mit jener künstlichen und für Uneingeweihte kaum verständlichen Cop-Sprache, die wohl nur in Romanen und Filmen existiert. Aber der Ruf des Romans ließ mich durchhalten und ich wurde am Ende dafür belohnt. Ellroy zog mich immer mehr in den Bann des Geheimnisses um den Mord an Elizabeth Short, das dramaturgisch geschickt nach und nach aufgedeckt wird. Für das Opfer Elisabeth Short entwickelte ich immer mehr Mitleid, bis zu den für mich kaum mehr erträglichen Szenen ihrer Folterung. Auch die sonstigen Figuren überzeugen und die Auflösung, die versierte Krimileser wohl schon ziemlich bald ahnen, ist stimmig.
Ich habe mich danach an anderen Ellory-Romanen versucht, bin aber nach wenigen Seiten gescheitert. Der stets schwierige Schreibstil des Autors wird dort nicht wie hier aufgewogen durch eine intensive, dunkle und berührende Geschichte. Also: Ellroy ist allgemein wohl nichts für jedermann, aber hier ist die Story einfach zu gut, um sie nicht gelesen zu haben, und alle Elemente, auch die für ihn typische Sprache und Erzählweise tragen zur ungeheuer dichten Atmosphäre bei.
am 3. April 2000
I came across "Black Dahlia" by a mere coincidence. I was in a bookshop and didn't find anything. I made my way through to the door, when the title of a book in the corner of my eye, caught my attention. "Black Dahlia". I thought to myself that the title sounded familiar. I read the storyline and I bought it. I practically ploughed my way through it and I think it's a FANTASTIC book, especially when considering that it was Ellroy's debut novel. Man, can that guy write or what! I think he has a unique way of maintaining the exitement to the very end, twisting and turning the plot just when you think you have it all figured out. He gives very detailed descriptions and is very horrorfic. I especially love the details such as the person names, places in L.A., the murders. I love the way he describes the corruption and the henchmen-style. The whole milieu noir. I simply loved the book. And when I was done reading it, I went straight down and bought "The Big Nowhere", "L.A. Confidential" and "White Jazz".
am 25. Januar 2007
An interesting book that leaves you feeling a little bewildered and disappointed. Not because the book is bad, but because of the lack of a person of impeccable character, a real hero. Everybody here is guilty of something: the policemen, the girlfriend, the victim, the murderer and his accessories.
With regards to the comments about the book being difficult to read for non-native speakers: this is not due to complicated language, but more to excessive use of contemporary slang and colloquialisms. Even with a very good knowledge of English there will be difficulties. I daresay even native speakers will be unfamiliar with a few of the examples of boxing and police slang used in the book. If one finds the word in a regular dictionary, lack of English language command is the reason for one's problem. If a special dictionary (American Slang, etc.) is required: do not worry, it is not your fault :-)