Synopses & Reviews
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."
"Don't pick up this book for the jazzy rage of James Ellroy or the melancholy atmospherics of Raymond Chandler. At the same time, you'll be too busy clinging to the narrative to complain about the prose." David Thomson, The New York Times Book Review
"The most haunting murder mystery in Los Angeles country during the 20th century has finally been solved in the 21st century." Stephen R. Kay, L.A. County Head Deputy District Attorney
"Black Dahlia Avenger is the best nonfiction book about L.A. crime I have ever read. Former LAPD detective Steve Hodel's journey into the heart of a brutal crime and into the dark places of his soul stayed with me after I read it. Black Dahlia Avenger has it all: suspense, intrigue, bizarre sex, moral ambiguity, all set against a backdrop of the L.A. of Mickey Cohen, Bill Parker, and Tony Cornero. The words 'compelling' and 'riveting,' though accurate, do not do justice to this nonfiction tour de force." Gerald Petievich, author of The Sentinel and To Live and Die in L.A.
In 1947, California's infamous Black Dahlia murder inspired the largest manhunt in Los Angeles history. Despite an unprecedented allocation of money and manpower, police investigators failed to identify the psychopath responsible for the sadistic murder and mutilation of beautiful twenty-two-year-old Elizabeth Short. Decades later, former LAPD homicide detective-turned-private investigator Steve Hodel launched his own investigation into the grisly unsolved crime -- and it led him to a shockingly unexpected perpetrator: Hodel's own father.
A spellbinding tour de force of true-crime writing, this newly revised edition includes never-before-published forensic evidence, photos, and previously unreleased documents, definitively closing the case that has often been called "the most notorious unsolved murder of the twentieth century."
Includes bibliographical references (p. -481)
About the Author
Steve Hodel was born and brought up in Los Angeles. Now a private investigator, he spent almost twenty-four years with the LAPD, most of them as a homicide detective supervisor. During his tenure, he worked on more than three hundred murder cases.