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Monday, May 24, 2004

The Curious Case of Elizabeth Short 

Aldo reports on a most interesting development with regards to the Black Dahlia, whose real name was, of course, Ms. Short. She's fascinated a whole host of people, but the most famous devotees are James Ellroy and Steve Hodel. Ellroy wrote a novel about the case back in 1988, and Hodel claimed in his book, published last year, that his father was the killer. Ellroy didn't buy it then--but in the just-released (and updated) paperback edition, guess who's written the introduction? As Steve Lopez reports, Ellroy finally came on board after coming across a particularly damning document:
"I was impressed with the scholarship but not entirely convinced," he said of his first reading of Hodel's book. "Then of course I read the revised version, which had the file you yourself turned up at the D.A.'s office."

Those files, which are the subject of an addendum in the paperback version of "Avenger," included bugging transcripts. D.A. investigators had concealed a microphone in Dr. Hodel's Los Feliz house, and here's the line that jumped off the page when I first saw it a year ago:

"Supposin' I did kill the Black Dahlia," the doctor says. "They couldn't prove it now. They can't talk to my secretary anymore because she's dead."

No doubt people will be debating the question for years to come, since they have been doing so ever since Short's death in 1947. But it's certainly interesting to see a convergence of opinion between Ellroy and Hodel. Whether it stays that way is another matter entirely.

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