1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Obsession Versus Facts,
This review is from: The Black Dahlia (L.A. Quartet) (Kindle Edition)
Making fiction from a true life crime is not an easy task; you must tread the line between entertaining the reader, and respecting the dead. James Ellroy is a man who does his own thing, so it was great to see that although `The Black Dahlia' is a fictionalised book, it does treat the real life case with respect. This is done by not focusing directly on the crime, but on the men assigned to solve it. Dwight "Bucky" Bleichert and Lee Blanchard are known as Fire and Ice, two former boxers turned LAPD. They are put on the Black Dahlia case, along with many other cops, but to them it becomes something of a crusade to catch the killer.
Ellroy is a very talented writer and this is most apparent when he is just writing about life in 40s LA. You could sit back and read a story just about Bucky and Lee walking the beat together. The use of language is evocative, giving you a sense of time and place - making you glad you weren't around at the time. The first section of the book takes place before the murder of Elizabeth Short and I found it the best part. Ellroy is an expert in making police procedural fiction fun to read. You get a sense of the reality of politics and he makes even dull form filling interesting.
Once the crime is committed the book begins to pick up pace and eventually lose its way. Police work turns into obsession, characters are left by the wayside and you have a book that ends up being one crazy man's attempt to relive the past. Gone are the wry observations of LA of the time, replaced by slightly overegged hardboiled crime fiction. The elements of authenticity make `The Black Dahlia' a very good book, it is just the fictionalised conclusion to the case that unravels and undermines.