The Black Dahlia Files: The Mob, the Mogul, and the Murder That Transfixed Los Angeles, by Donald H. Wolfe

It’s an infamous Hollywood story-girl goes to Hollywood in search of fame, fortune and marriage, only to be found murdered in a vacant lot on January 15, 1947. Were that the entirety of the story, it might have faded into the pages of history-but for a sorded detail of her murder-Elizabeth Short was found bisected-cut in half.

Thanks to this sordid detail, the story hit headlines and remained there for many days, newspapers detailing the progress of the police outselling any day in the history of World War II.

(Want to know more? Unfamiliar with the story? See this summary from Crime Library.)

Donald H. Wolfe won’t win any awards for the simplicity of his theories put forth in the book, which is easy to read but rather complicated and probably not for those looking for a light beach read. But for those who enjoy delving into a mystery, with plenty of documentation and photography to go along, this is one you will enjoy. It’s well-paced and reads a little more like a novel than a true-crime book.

However, one has to be somewhat skeptical of all of the theories put forth, just because they are SO over the top-including everyone from Ben Seigel to Marilyn Monroe. Further, the author claims connection to everyone from Ben Seigel to Walt Disney, so the reader gets a feeling that the author might be a bit of a name-dropper.

That said, there are a couple of very interesting side notes in the book-one, a 12 page summary of why Steve Hodel’s book “Black Dahlia Avenger: A Genius for Murder” was off the mark. (For those unfamiliar with the book, Hodel puts forth the theory that his own father, a Hollywood physician, was not only the Black Dahlia killer but a serial killer.) This was very interesting food for thought on one of the more popular Dahlia theories.

Another is the debunking of the theory that the “mystery” question held back by the police department was that Short had infantile sex organs, one of the more lurid and persisting stories about the murder. While Wolfe never discovers what that mystery question was, he makes a fairly sound argument that it was not any of the theories put forth before.

In short, if you are someone who has read books on The Black Dahlia before, this is something you will want to pick up. Otherwise, the story may be too convoluted and might not be the best place for a casual reader to start. However, the readability of the book, not to mention the many photos and illustrations, makes it a book I would recommend.

Published in: on August 2, 2006 at 2:25 am  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. There are so many things wrong with this book that I devoted a blog to it:

  2. even though he came close to solving the case it still doesnt point towards the killer he was right about several things in the book and the way the killer is patrayed but there was one thing he had wrong about the caes is tht the letter the d.a had recieved couldnt give off prints because the killer had soaked it on gasoline and now for my question if i told u i know who killed the black dahlia would you believe me?????????

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