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The Black Dahlia Files: The Mob, the Mogul, and the Murder That Transfixed Los Angeles Hardcover – December 27, 2005


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; First Edition edition (December 27, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060582499
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060582494
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #966,195 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This unsettling exposé presents a comprehensive look at the case the captivated Los Angeles in the 1940s. Wolfe, who investigated the controversial death of another Hollywood beauty in 1998's The Last Days of Marilyn Monroe, turns his attention to aspiring starlet Elizabeth Short, whose severed body was found in a vacant lot on January 15, 1947. A student at Beverly Hills High at the time, the author felt the city's temperament in those days, which adds texture to his account of a murder police never intended to solve. Using files from the District Attorney's Office that were recently made public, Wolfe connects Bugsy Siegel and Los Angeles Times publisher Norman Chandler to Short's death, detailing an extensive police cover-up and exhaustive efforts to mislead the press. Although his theory is largely circumstantial-he puts a lot of faith in a second-hand account from two cops he acknowledges were corrupt-his is the most credible explanation to date. Wolfe is also a first-rate writer who depicts a city where police and mobsters routinely committed atrocities and those with connections were dealt get-out-of-jail-free cards while women were murdered or went quietly missing. Photos.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

About the Author

Donald H. Wolfe is the author of The Last Days of Marilyn Monroe, which became an international bestseller and Literary Guild Selection. In Hollywood, California, where he was born and raised, Wolfe became a film editor at Columbia Pictures and Warner Bros., where he worked on All the President's Men and became a screenwriter for Steven Spielberg. A contributor to the New York Times and Paris-Match, Wolfe now lives in New Hampshire with his wife and two children.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Donald H. Wolfe worked in Hollywood as a screenwriter and film editor for twenty-five years. His fascination with Marilyn Monroe began when he met her in 1958 during the filming of Some Like It Hot at Samuel Goldwyn Studios. Wolfe was working there as a film editor on The Loretta Young Show. He also studied cinema at the University of Southern California, and made an award-winning short subject film in France with director Jean Renoir. In 1975, he was a post-production supervisor on All the President's Men and work as a screen writer with Steven Spielberg. He is the best-selling author of The Black Dahlia Files (2006) and has contributed to the New York Times and Paris-Match. Wolfe now lives in New Hampshire with his wife and two children.

Customer Reviews

The author did a wonderful job, these cases are very interesting, and these investigations add a lot to the book.
Jonathan Turbide
How about page 114: "It was inferred in the press . . . " You know you want to say "implied," but something just won't let you, will it?
Kevin Killian
This book is the DEFINITIVE book on The Black Dahlia Murder and SHOULD be read by all true crime and "Black Dahlia" enthusiasts!
L. K. Lynch

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

60 of 61 people found the following review helpful By John Cox on January 2, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Being a serious Black Dahlia buff, I devour each and every new book that comes out about the crime. While my favorite book remains SEVERED by John Gilmore (my introduction to Elizabeth Short), I have to concede that THE BLACK DAHLIA FILES by Donald Wolfe is clearly the best, most authoritative, and most carefully researched book yet written on the crime, and the one that appears to come closest to actually solving this nearly 60-year-old murder mystery...almost.

The hook here is that FILES was written from newly opened Black Dahlia case files. Yes, this is certainly a hook, but I would say the real hook is that it's a book written by a skilled nonfiction crime writer who presents his case with verifiable evidence, historical context, and source notes, a first for a Dahlia book. Author Wolfe also acknowledges past books and pet theories. He notes that John Gilmore came very close to catching the killer in SEVERED (in fact, Gilmore's suspect plays a role in Wolfe's theory), he pays respect to Mary Pacios' well-researched CHILDHOOD SHADOWS (but, come on, we all knew Orson Welles didn't do it), and he thoroughly discredits the much hyped hokum of Steve Hodel's BLACK DAHLIA AVENGER and its equally delusional predecessor, DADDY WAS THE BLACK DAHLIA KILLER.

The "files" alluded to in the title are two boxes of DA case files which, unfortunately, do not include the police files nor the official autopsy with its "dark secret" (Wolfe reveals what he believes the secret to be, but I remain skeptical).
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Jesus Squirrel on April 18, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This book looks nice, lots of nice pictures and massive end notes. But after researching this book it turns out that the author bases his information on questionable sources from previous books and previously discredited sources. True Black Dahlia experts have dissected this book and found multiple errors on each page. His end notes often refer to newspaper articles that don't exist. It's been shown that the author's involvement in the story didn't exist. For instance he didn't live on the same block as Segal when he was murdered as he says he did in the book.

This book follows a pattern of people writing "crime solved" books on bogus premises to make a buck.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful By The Raven on January 8, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Between the evidence presented in John Gilmore's excellent "Severed" and now Donald Wolfe's "The Black Dahlia Files", it appears that some sort of justice has finally been served for the brutal murder of Elizabeth Short. This book, by far, delivers the most plausible solution to one of the the 20th century's most intriguing mysteries. It's unfortunate, however, that many more important pieces of the puzzle are still being kept hidden from the public eye. Well, the cat's out of the bag, as they say. Hey, LA, its time to reopen the case and serve justice officially.

***It's easy for some to sit back and lob potshots at Donald Wolfe's investigation of the Dahlia case. It doesn't require any work on their part. However, it would be far more useful, and considerably more difficult, for them to present a MORE plausible solution. If an alternate TRUTH exists, please enlighten us.***
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Patrick King on May 9, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I think Donald H. Wolfe has come closer than anybody before him to determining what actually happened to Beth Short on January 14-15, 1947. If he's correct, he also explains the mystery of the murder of Bugsy Seigel. Bugsy Seigel's murder as explained in Dean Jennings' book We Only Kill Each Other, has never made much sense to me. The Flamingo Resort Casino, which was in a bad way in January of 1947 at the time of Beth Short's death, by June, when Seigel was killed, was already beginning to pay for itself. In Robert Lacy's book Little Man, the authorized biography of Meyer Lansky, written with the cooperation of the Lansky family, Meyer Lansky swore he never harmed his friend and partner, Ben Seigel. Outside of his being a gangster, why would he lie about it at the end of his life? The coinciding of Seigel's return to Los Angeles from Vegas expressly to raise money, with the MacCadden jewelry robberies and burgalries that took place in LA over those days, and the return of Beth Short from San Deigo on January 9th, an explaination starts to take shape. The coroner's report tells us that Beth Short was NOT tortured to death. She was killed by blunt force trauma to the side of her head by a metal instrument, and having her mouth slashed open. So the wounds inflicted to the body were made postmortum. This was a practical crime made to look like a crime of passion. Who would do something like this? Who would have the audacity to mutilate a body like that and then drop it off in a residential neighborhood a short walk from the home of LA crime boss Jack Dragna? Wolfe's theory makes a lot of circumstantial sense.Read more ›
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