Black Dahlia Avenger: A Genius for Murder

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9780060589950: Black Dahlia Avenger: A Genius for Murder

A New York Times Notable Book
An Edgar Award Finalist

In this startling tour-de-force, a professional homicide detective finally solves the case of one of the most shocking murders of the twentieth century in this true-crime page-turner.

"Supposin' I did kill the Black Dahlia. They couldn't prove it now. They can't talk to my secretary anymore because she's dead."
-- Dr. George Hodel, February 18, 1950, from residential electronic surveillance transcripts in the L.A. District Attorney's files, released to the public for the first time on April 11, 2003

In 1947, the sadistic murder of a beautiful young woman, twenty-two-year-old Elizabeth Short, led to the largest manhunt in Los Angeles history and came to be known as the Black Dahlia murder. In the film noir streets of Los Angeles, the killer teased and taunted the police and public alike through notes written to L.A. papers, much like Jack the Ripper had done in London sixty years earlier. When the LAPD failed to solve the crime, it was passed down from year to year to crack homicide detectives, but none could ever bring the killer to justice -- until now. Even more startling -- a twist worthy of any great mystery novel -- is the identity of the murderer: the author's own father, George Hodel, a real-life Jekyll and Hyde, a man who by day was a highly respected member of society and by night a mad, sadistic killer.Black Dahlia Avenger is the result of more than three years of meticulous investigation by Steve Hodel. At long last, he closes what has often been called "the most notorious unsolved murder of the twentieth century."

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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 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. --Shawn Carkonen

From the Author:

This HarperCollins edition [July, 2006] of Black Dahlia Avenger contains two updated chapters which were added by me after the original hardback publication in 2003. It contains a lot of important new investigative linkage. The most important being the discovery of hidden DA Files which independently confirm my findings and identification of the actual suspect.

My investigation is ongoing and I anticipate the publication of Black Dahlia Avenger II, in January, 2012. That will be the sequel to this book and will contain my ongoing seven-year follow-up investigation and a massive amount of new linkage including the presentation of "hard physical evidence" connecting my suspect to a private residence and the actual vacant lot where he posed the surgically bisected body of Elizabeth "Black Dahlia" Short. Stay tuned, lot more to come.

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