Black Dahlia Avenger: A Genius for Murder

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9780061139611: Black Dahlia Avenger: A Genius for Murder

In 1947, the brutal, sadistic murder of a beautiful young woman named Elizabeth Short led to the largest manhunt in LA history. The killer teased and taunted the police and public for weeks, but his identity stayed a mystery, and the murder remained the most tantalizing unsolved case of the last century, until this book revealed the bizarre solution. Steve Hodel, a retired LAPD detective who was a private investigator, took up the case, reviewing the original evidence and records as well as those of a separate grand jury investigation into a series of murders of single women in LA at the time. The prime suspect had in fact been identified, but never indicted. Why? And who was he? In an account that partakes both of "LA Confidential" and "Zodiac," for the corruption it exposes and the insight it offers into a serial killer's mind, Hodel demonstrates that there was a massive police cover-up. Even more shocking, he proves that the murderer, a true-life Jekyll and Hyde who was a highly respected member of society by day and a psychopathic killer by night, was his own father. This edition of the book includes new findings and photographs added after the original publication, together with a new postscript by the author.

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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 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

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"

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