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Black Dahlia Avenger: A Genius for Murder Paperback – 1 Aug 2006


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Black Dahlia Avenger: A Genius for Murder + Black Dahlia Avenger II + Most Evil: Avenger, Zodiac, and the Further Serial Murders of Dr. George Hill Hodel (Berkley True Crime)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 593 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers; Revised edition (1 Aug. 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061139610
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061139611
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 2.5 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 531,672 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Amazon Review

For 56 years, the Black Dahlia murder case remained one of the most notorious and high-profile unsolved crimes of the 20th century. Now, Steve Hodel, a 24-year veteran of the Los Angeles Police Department, believes he has finally solved the case. On January 15, 1947, 22-year-old Elizabeth Short--"The Black Dahlia"--was found dead in a vacant lot in Los Angeles, her body horribly mutilated, bisected at the waist and posed in a bizarre manner. The horrific crime shocked the country and commanded headlines for months as the killer taunted the police with notes and phone calls. Despite the massive manhunt, the murderer was never found.

Hodel began working on the case after he retired from the LAPD when he chanced upon an intriguing piece of evidence that led him on a trail that he had no choice but to follow since it pertained directly to him. As he dug deeper, he came to believe that the killer was also responsible for over a dozen other unsolved murders in the Los Angeles area around the same time. He also found copious evidence of corruption at the LAPD, leading him to accuse the department's top brass of covering up the Black Dahlia murder in order to conceal a deeper conspiracy involving crooked politicians and gangsters.

Despite a lack of physical evidence (which had been destroyed), Hodel is able to connect numerous dots and make a plausible case, complete with lurid tales of wild orgies that were attended by celebrities such as the artist Man Ray, the director John Huston and a whole host of the Hollywood elite. He also discloses his killer's obsession with the Marquis de Sade and Jack the Ripper and how he modelled his own crimes on their behavior. In particular, there is a disturbing connection between the work of Man Ray and the horrific circumstances of Short's murder. It is doubtful that this will be the final word on the Black Dahlia murder--too much mythology surrounds it and much of his evidence is circumstantial--but Hodel's labyrinthine tale adds much to this intriguing case. --Shawn Carkonen, Amazon.com --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"Completely convincing . . . As far as I am concerned, this case is closed." --Michael Connelly, bestselling author of the Harry Bosch series "The most haunting murder mystery in Los Angeles county during the twentieth century has finally been solved." --Stephen R. Kay, L.A. County Head Deputy District Attorney "A must-read book . . . A blockbuster." --Liz Smith, "New York Post" --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By George Rodger on 5 Aug. 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I don't know what book the previous reviewer was reading but it wasn't this one..
I read and enjoyed 'Severed' too, but it cannot compare with 'Black Dahlia Avenger' - in terms of in-depth research, direct and circumstantial evidence, believability, probability.... this is the Black Dahlia case - America's most famous unsolved murder - solved beyond a reasonable doubt. Quite simply, an incredible achievement at nearly 60 years' distance.
Anyone reading this will see an amazing array of evidence supporting the investigation - previously unknown surveillance transcripts, photographs, handwriting analysis (tested blind, i.e. without knowledge of which case etc.), witness statements (including one stating that Beth Short was the suspect's girlfriend), family history, links to other murders (as many of the detectives at the time stated on the record, but which have since disppeared from popular perception )and a clearly more comprehensive search of contemporary newspaper reports than I've seen in any other book on the subject. (NB - the newspapers didn't just wait around for police updates, they investigated many aspects thoroughly, and produced witness accounts that the LAPD later buried or discredited - often unjustly, and for suspect reasons.)
The author also usefully debunks many of the myths around the Black Dahlia case. Last but not least, a shocking but all-too-believable reason is given for the case never being cleared - high-up members of the LAPD quashed the investigation, because the suspect knew too much about police corruption!
Therefore I cannot understand why the previous reviewer talks of it being 'empty of any credible police work or evidence'.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 23 May 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The Black Dahlia murder is one of those cases that catches the public imagination and serves as an enduring mystery. Steve Hodel thinks he has solved this mystery and presents the evidence in this book. To be honest, I'm not convinced - much of the evidence seems circumstantial and requires some fairly large leaps of faith to connect all the dots.

That Hodel senior was both a suspect and a fairly unpleasant man is undeniable but I'm not convinced by the evidence presented in this book that the Black Dahlia case is finally solved.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Bamboo blade on 5 Jun. 2013
Format: Paperback
Parts of this book are intetesting but the author is too certain that his father is the killer without that much evidence. The pictures he claims his father took of E. Short & were hidden in his private photo album look nothing like her if you have viewed enough photo's of her. She has a very distinctive face & the pictures don't look like her. After seeing what he believes are photo's of her, he links his father to her much too easily & with no real proof. Read Donald H Wolfe's book on The Black Dahlia because it makes more sense.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
if you can overcome the numerous spelling errors, transposition of numerals and letters and missing punctuation, this presents new evidence on the murder of betty short. I found some of the evidence compelling but circumstantial at best. I did get a bit lost under all the detail especially about the murder's relation to art. however towards the end the timeline is reviewed and started to make more sense to me. extra info added at the end really helped bring it together. I think the author has made a compelling case for his father as the murderer, but at what personal cost I can only imagine. due to either a cover-up or incompetence the evidence has been lost by lapd so this is probably as close as it gets to confirming the actual killer. good read.
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By Amazon Customer on 1 Sept. 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
I chose a five star because the book kept me wanting to read it all. The author was very good on how he took all the evidence against his father and explained it to us that's where his homicide cop came into it. I would recommend this book to anyone to read.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mr. M. Sanders on 17 Sept. 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Written by former Homicide Detective Steve Hodel, this look at the famous Black Dahlia Murder case from 1947 is a complex and explosive read. The Black Dahlia case to the LAPD was to be like the Roswell Incident was to the USAF - legendary and refused to go away.

With a foreword by Author James Elroy of LA Confidential and Black Dahlia novel fame, it is interesting to compare Hodel and Elroy - Hodel a Detective and Elroy the Author - Hodel having investigated probably thousands of cases and written novelwise probably little and Elroy, a prolific author but never having served as a Police Officer - interesting when you compare their works from these diverse perspectives.

However, back to the Steve Hodel investigation, it is certainly thorough, and although it does answer many questions relating to the Black Dahlia case, it does raise many more. Steve Hodel with access to LAPD evidence files is able to bring more to light such as associated killings that were in the similar style but never solved, with similarities known to the perpetrators of this case, and never made public at the time.

A number of new pictures are included not seen in other publications on the subject and Steve Hodel does raise a lot of questions regarding the suspects and people of interest in this case including his father who became noticeably absent!

Trying to re-investigate this case many years after the event and with many potential witnesses no longer with us due to age or health issues, the task is inevitably more difficult.

I purchased this and other books including LA Confidential as part of my research into a set of Detective stories I am writing set in the LAPD area.
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