Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The Black Dahlia by James Ellroy

Title: The Black Dahlia
Author: James Ellroy

ISBN # 9780099366515

Publisher: Arrow Books

First Published: 1987

384 pages

Format: Paperback

Rating: 4/10

It is
Los Angeles, 11th 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.

I'm sad to say I was rather disappointed by this book. Pretty much everyone I'd spoken to about it said round about the same thing, "Once it gets past the boxing bit, it gets really good but it's really gruesome". I felt the exact opposite - I loved the boxing bit! The descriptions of the blood and sweat and adrenaline rush were, by far, the best bit of the whole book - I really felt like I was there at the fight. After that, things went downhill.

There seemed to be an awful lot of waffling and pussy-footing around with little bits and pieces of peripheral story line in which I had absolutely no interest - I wanted to get to the murder and the investigation, then stick with it.

I also didn't find the "gruesome" bits all that gruesome - certainly not compared to Stuart MacBride or even Richard Montanari (Rosary Girls was far more graphic than this). The only thing that disturbed me was the constant racial slurs throughout the book - I know they were meant to be indicative of the time in which it was set (1947), but that kind of thing makes me angry. It also annoyed me that there were absolutely no "normal" characters - the women were all sluts and everyone had at least one sexual "perversion" - surely LA circa 1947 wasn't entirely populated with sexual deviants? You'd be forgiven for believing it was after reading this.

The constant colloquialisms also grated on my nerves and made for difficult reading - there was no reference as to what many of them meant - the reader is left to guess at their meaning (which really narked me!).

I'll not be bothering with any more of Ellroy's novels - I'll stick to watching the film adaptations.


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