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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.

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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What listeners say about Black Dahlia Avenger

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    5 out of 5 stars

Well researched and thought provoking

Truly satisfying that such an infamous cold case can finally be laid to rest. Loved the story and all the fascinating details but the narration was awful. Persevere listening just for the story.

1 person found this helpful

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Enthralling

This was a very interesting book A lot for good information from the time book was set. Amazed at the corrupting at that time . Overall found it very good. Narration easy to listen to. thought he sounded like Tom Hanks.

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A must read for any true crime fan!

I couldn’t stop listening to this book. It’s so well researched and is brilliantly written, would highly recommend.

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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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Profile Image for Nicholas Litteral
  • Nicholas Litteral
  • 24-04-2017

Creepy, scary, and intense.

I loved the book. What an eye opening series of events. Very well done. I'd recommend this book to anyone that loves murder mysteries or true crime drama books. You won't be disappointed!

12 people found this helpful

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  • Nikki
  • 21-11-2015

Compelling Listen!

Would you consider the audio edition of Black Dahlia Avenger to be better than the print version?

This made me want to go out and purchase the print version. The photos and diagrams are adequately described, but it would be nice to check them out firsthand.

Who was your favorite character and why?

I admire the author's courage to come forward with his findings.

What does Kevin Pierce bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

I felt like I was being officially briefed on the case.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

This book reaffirmed my belief that the world has its own mechanisms to balance things out. (The son seeking justice for the sins of his father)
There is true evil in this world. It hurt me immensely to hear what happened to these women. Being a woman in this world is a scary thing. It shouldn't be, but it is.

Any additional comments?

I feel that the various low reviews for this book are from "armchair detectives" who are upset that their pet theories aren't in the spotlight. This is a solid book. Steve Hodel spent years piecing this together. One or two coincidences could obviously be written off, but this book spins a complex tapestry of them. Considering how old this case is and how most of the physical evidence has since "disappeared", I feel like this is the closest we are going to get to a definitive answer as to who killed Elizabeth Short.

18 people found this helpful

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  • DDP
  • 08-07-2015

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.

12 people found this helpful

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  • Hunterella
  • 28-12-2019

Reads like a police report

I hoped this incredible story would have been told with much less ‘reading’ from police reports. With such an outrageous story, the book is boring and told in monotone.

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  • Catherine J. Pondozzi
  • 30-03-2019

Not for me

This murder was so old, so weird, so crazy that the more the author tried to solve it the sicker it made me. I just pray this never happens again.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Michael
  • 19-05-2019

very good book. great overall worth your time and money .would recommend to most everyone

2 people found this helpful

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  • B Rose
  • 18-01-2015

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.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Delia
  • 07-03-2019

Excellent story!

This book was so intriguing, and at times outrageously unbelievable, but a great story nonetheless. It's quite long-winded and in mint send endless, but picks up again. I would definitely recommend it to LA Noir and Black Dahlia nerds.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Blackenedghost
  • 25-02-2019

Fascinating story!

An absolutely compelling story that is tremendously fascinating. It's almost hard to believe that all this ACTUALLY happened. The evidence that Steve Hodel provides definitely has me convinced that George Hodel was the Black Dahlia avenger. If you are fascinating by Elisabeth Short's murder then this book is a MUST read. Only bad thing is the narrator is a little too dry in my opinion. He reads with no energy, and reminds me of the most boring high school teacher you might have had. However, the content is very interesting and kept me going all the way through.

3 people found this helpful

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Profile Image for Jay
  • Jay
  • 05-05-2013

Believer

What made the experience of listening to Black Dahlia Avenger the most enjoyable?

The story, there are times when it seems to drag on and I found myself wondering why he was telling us this but in the end it all ties together.

What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

The story

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

I did shed a tear for Elizabeth when he talks about what her killers put her through

Any additional comments?

I believe Steve Hodel, with all the evidence presented I think his dad did kill her

3 people found this helpful

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