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Editorial Reviews

The 1947 murder of Elizabeth Short led to an exhaustive and fruitless manhunt in Southern California, and the Black Dahlia case still stands as one of the most famous unsolved murders in American history. Retired LAPD detective Steve Hodel, however, has uncovered evidence that may reveal the mysterious killer's identity: his father George.
Kevin Pierce gives a striking edge to Black Dahlia Avenger, evoking the no-nonsense style of classic LA noirs like Double Indemnity and Sunset Boulevard. But Hodel's work is all too real, even as the gory and byzantine details of this riveting case seem like a Hollywood tall tale.
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Publisher's Summary

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 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 host of other Hollywood elites. He also discloses his killer’s obsession with the Marquis de Sade and Jack the Ripper and how he modeled 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 myth surrounds it and much of his evidence is circumstantial - but Hodel’s labyrinthine tale adds much to this intriguing case.
©2003, 2011 Steve Hodel (P)2012 Audible, Inc.
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

By B Rose on 01-18-15

Too long, tedious and repetitive!

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

The first part yes, the rest is just repetitious. Couldn't finish.

Would you be willing to try another book from Steve Hodel? Why or why not?

Not if its like this one.

What about Kevin Pierce’s performance did you like?

He's just easy to listen to. Not the best, but not too bad.

Was Black Dahlia Avenger worth the listening time?

Asked and answered.

Any additional comments?

This is a very interesting case it just could have been told in half the time.

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3 of 3 people found this review helpful


By DDP on 07-08-15

Doesn't work as an audiobook.

One can only hope that Hodel did a better job as a murder investigator when he worked for the LAPD than he is doing in his retirement. The entire basis on his case comes down to his interpretation of photographs and hand writing analysis of scanned documents--all of which could have been told in half the time, and none of which works as an audiobook without visuals.

His connections are tenuous at best and in some cases, outright ridiculous. His comparison of the crime as his father's homage to Man Ray's Minotaur lacks any reference to what is probably the most notable feature of the work--the absence of the model's head. Would someone who had gone through all the effort to recreate the effect of the photograph (in what Hodel claims to be in intimate detail) and who had already brutally bisected and mutilated a body, then hesitate to decapitate the victim to achieve the full effect?

In addition to the frustrating and gaping holes in the story overall, the first half of the narration is done in such a deadpan and awkward cadence that the listener is often more focused on the reading than on what is being read.

Save your time. After 18 hours invested, I don't feel like I know anything more of any substance in relation to this crime.

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4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

By JT on 06-15-16

Absolutely compelling.

Would you listen to Black Dahlia Avenger again? Why?

Frequently listen to it. Because it is a great true crime book. Well researched and well read.

What other book might you compare Black Dahlia Avenger to, and why?

The other books in it's collection. Most Evil 1 & 2 and the direct follow up to this book.

What about Kevin Pierce’s performance did you like?

Kevin Pierce is always great.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

It's not that sort of book.

Any additional comments?

This book is a fantastic and compelling account of rather infamous murders in LA in the 1940's and 1950's. Extremely well researched and presented. Very recommended if you are into that glitzy time period in LA and true crime.

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful


By Lincolnshire Amazonian on 11-25-17

Unspeakable crimes - patriarchal culture - self interest - arrogance ...

A heady mixture of awfulness combines in this book which serves to illustrate how naive and invisible women were back in the 1940' - 1960's That said, it is challenging to accept how so many terrible atrocities against womankind were left, deftly unresolved, to the annals of time by the authorities of the day. Although not religious, I was left hoping that heaven and hell do indeed exist - and 'praying' that the lead sadist in this book (and all his heinous cronies) can now be found languishing in eternal damnation. Sadly, however, even THAT fate seems to good for the sick individuals responsible for these crimes ...

This book is long - but worth the effort. And steel yourself - the details of the crimes are gruesome and difficult for 'normal' minds to grasp. Yet another book about man's inhumanity to man (although it is all women who suffer in this tragic case) ...

Just wish there was a definitive outcome, proven in law. I was left wanting justice to have been served!

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

By Elizabeth on 03-11-17

This book was amazing!!!

So well researched and entertaining. Some great food for thought I was on the edge of my seat. I wish the follow up book was on Audible.

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