Black Dahlia, Red Rose: The Crime, Corruption, and Cover-Up of America's Greatest Unsolved Murder by Piu Marie Eatwell

Black Dahlia, Red Rose: The Crime, Corruption, and Cover-Up of America's Greatest Unsolved Murder

Los Angeles, 1947. A housewife out for a walk with her baby notices a cloud of black flies buzzing ominously in Leimert Park. An "unsightly object" is identified as the mutilated body of Elizabeth Short, an aspiring starlet from Massachusetts who had been lured west by the siren call of Hollywood. Her killer would never be found, but Short’s death would bring her the fame...

Title:Black Dahlia, Red Rose: The Crime, Corruption, and Cover-Up of America's Greatest Unsolved Murder
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Edition Language:English

Black Dahlia, Red Rose: The Crime, Corruption, and Cover-Up of America's Greatest Unsolved Murder Reviews

  • Sarah

    Several years ago I remember watching the movie The Black Dahlia and being thoroughly confused. I distinctly remember walking out of the theater going what the heck was that? Despite the confusion I was intrigued by the notorious unsolved crime from the 1940's. Enter Black Dahlia, Red Rose where I figured I'd see if I could quell the curiosity once and for all. Upon reading this I think that Piu Eatwell has presented a compelling enough perspective that I'm convinced that this case is solved.

    Wi

    Several years ago I remember watching the movie The Black Dahlia and being thoroughly confused. I distinctly remember walking out of the theater going what the heck was that? Despite the confusion I was intrigued by the notorious unsolved crime from the 1940's. Enter Black Dahlia, Red Rose where I figured I'd see if I could quell the curiosity once and for all. Upon reading this I think that Piu Eatwell has presented a compelling enough perspective that I'm convinced that this case is solved.

    With recently released files from the FBI and meticulous research Eatwell is able to present a strong enough case that to me, Leslie Dillon, without a doubt, murdered Elizabeth Short. The evidence is presented in a logical progression that in my mind makes his guilt undeniable. Throughout the novel she also paints a compelling case that indicates that Mark Hansen was involved enough to warrant the massive amount of corruption that plagued this case.

    This novel also provided good insight into the LAPD and LA politics in general during the 1940s. It was a stark reminder of how those in power in Hollywood have always had the upper hand and have always been capable of slipping away from accountability in some capacity.

    My only complaints were slight. For one it was difficult to keep up with the vast cast of characters from time to time. Eatwell does her best to combat this with providing bios of the most important players at the beginning of the novel and bios of anyone else mentioned in the dramatis personae at the rear of the novel. The other complaint was there were a few sections that just seemed rehashed and unnecessary. They helped support Eatwell's point but I felt they had already been discussed in enough depth that later discussion could have been removed.

    Overall, I felt like this was a good example of a true crime novel that presented a compelling stance that this case has been solved.

  • Taryn Pierson

    I had to squirm (and occasionally skim) my way through this book because I’m squeamish when it comes to violence, but the Black Dahlia murder and Piu Eatwell’s deep dive into the evidence are fascinating enough to make the ick factor worth it. I didn’t know anything about the case going in, but even if you have some background, Eatwell fought for access to evidence never before released—and she has a compelling argument as to the identity of the culprit. She’s also an accomplished historian who

    I had to squirm (and occasionally skim) my way through this book because I’m squeamish when it comes to violence, but the Black Dahlia murder and Piu Eatwell’s deep dive into the evidence are fascinating enough to make the ick factor worth it. I didn’t know anything about the case going in, but even if you have some background, Eatwell fought for access to evidence never before released—and she has a compelling argument as to the identity of the culprit. She’s also an accomplished historian who excels at creating a sense of place. Black Dahlia, Red Rose is as much a snapshot of postwar LA as it is an analysis of the murder investigation, and even though I’ve never been to California, having read this book I now feel like I have.

    True crime can be tough to read. With crime novels, no matter how sick and twisted, you can at least comfort yourself with the thought that it’s all a figment of the author’s imagination. We’re granted no such distance here. Elizabeth Short was a real person whose life was ended purposefully and brutally. So what makes the book worth reading, despite the gruesomeness of the crime itself? In my opinion, it’s the opportunity to explore who the so-called Black Dahlia really was, behind the sensational headlines and prejudice of the times. It’s too easy to cast a beautiful young female murder victim as either a saintly virgin or a disgraced harlot. Based on the picture Eatwell paints of Short, I personally think she (like all women) was more complicated than that false dichotomy allows.

    Adding to the intrigue is Eatwell’s exposure of the bald-faced corruption of the LAPD and their unwillingness to bring the killer to justice. As a cock-eyed optimist, I found the department’s failure appalling, but if you’re the jaded type you probably won’t be too surprised. I guess we’ve seen several examples in the news just recently that prove rules don’t apply to white men in powerful positions. I should have known.

    Recommended for true crime enthusiasts, history buffs, and anyone who likes non-fiction that reads like fiction.

    More book recommendations by me at

  • Rachel

    The Black Dahlia murder case remains a brutal unsolved mystery murder case. Committed by someone familiar with surgical techniques, the murder of twenty-two year old Elizabeth Short, the so-called Black Dahlia because of the lingerie she wore and her jet-black hair. The investigation has never been solved, but I believe Piu Eatwell has finally done that. Using previously unreleased FBI and LAPD files, in addition to the first-hand accounts of people like news reporter Aggie Underwood and Dr. DeR

    The Black Dahlia murder case remains a brutal unsolved mystery murder case. Committed by someone familiar with surgical techniques, the murder of twenty-two year old Elizabeth Short, the so-called Black Dahlia because of the lingerie she wore and her jet-black hair. The investigation has never been solved, but I believe Piu Eatwell has finally done that. Using previously unreleased FBI and LAPD files, in addition to the first-hand accounts of people like news reporter Aggie Underwood and Dr. DeRiver, psychologist of the LAPD during the time of the murder, the author makes a compelling argument about the identity of the killer. She also explains who else might’ve been behind the scenes of the murder, as well as the corruption and cover-up perpetrated by the LAPD and their associates. Highly recommended, 5 stars.

    I personally loved the way the author set the story for Los Angeles in 1940s post-war America. Narrative nonfiction doesn’t always work, but I really liked the way she blended fact and story to get a let’s-face-it not pleasant topic across. Elizabeth Short was brutally murdered, according to the author’s website, by being “bludgeoned to death, her mouth slit wide on each side. Severe post-mortem lacerations had been made to the body. Most shocking, the corpse had been hacked in two.”

    The influences of Hollywood are all over Los Angeles (as they have been since the movie industry has been in existence), but there is also the influence of of gangsters and their cronies, like Mark Hansen, who peddled sex and drugs, and encouraged women to sell themselves body and soul to get into pictures and become famous. I had heard stories about the corruption of the LAPD but to read about it and the depth to which it went, was fascinating, and really makes me want to read a book about that all on its own. The lengths to which they went to in order to cover up the dealings of certain members of the force, basically sabotaged the entire Black Dahlia murder investigation. After reading this book, I can very much imagine a scene as described by the author, between the man who ordered Elizabeth Short’s murder and the man who actually committed it, just like Henry II telling his knights to “get rid of this troublesome priest” when they murdered the Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas a Becket. I found it very fascinating that the author, at the end of the book, discovered Leslie Dillon’s daughter was named Elizabeth, adding that just extra bit of creepiness to an already creepy story.

    Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from W.W. Norton & Company in exchange for my honest review.

  • Beth

    Black Dahlia Red Rose is a book that takes it's place beside many books on this crime that captured America's attention. An unsolved mystery of a Hollywood starlet, this book seeks to solve this decades old crime.

    Using recently released FBI files as well as interviews never before heard of, this book makes a credible argument for solving the mystery. As to whether it is true or not - it is hard to say. This book does a good job of capturing the way the Dahlia was demonized in the press for being

    Black Dahlia Red Rose is a book that takes it's place beside many books on this crime that captured America's attention. An unsolved mystery of a Hollywood starlet, this book seeks to solve this decades old crime.

    Using recently released FBI files as well as interviews never before heard of, this book makes a credible argument for solving the mystery. As to whether it is true or not - it is hard to say. This book does a good job of capturing the way the Dahlia was demonized in the press for being a sexual being - a cautionary tale as it were.

    If this story captivates you, you will enjoy this book.

  • John David

    Los Angeles in 1947 was a hard, gritty city filled with people hoping to make a fresh start or to achieve fame and fortune. One of them was Elizabeth Short, a beautiful young woman from Massachusetts who dreamed of becoming a movie star. Ironically but sadly her desire for fame was achieved, but only because of the manner of her death. Her body was discovered one cold January morning, bisected and mutilated. The investigation into her death became a cause celebre. Christened the Black Dahlia mur

    Los Angeles in 1947 was a hard, gritty city filled with people hoping to make a fresh start or to achieve fame and fortune. One of them was Elizabeth Short, a beautiful young woman from Massachusetts who dreamed of becoming a movie star. Ironically but sadly her desire for fame was achieved, but only because of the manner of her death. Her body was discovered one cold January morning, bisected and mutilated. The investigation into her death became a cause celebre. Christened the Black Dahlia murder by the newspapers, the publicity went on for weeks and periodically resurrected when new possible new evidence or information surfaced. But the mystery of who killed Elizabeth Short and why was never solved. Piu Eatwell's new history of the crime and the investigation makes it clear that the failure to track down and bring Short's murderer to justice was due to widespread corruption within the LA Police Department, which had multiple cozy relationships with organized crime figures.

    Piu Eatwell's new history of the Black Dahlia case brings the corrupt world of 1947 Los Angeles to life. Elizabeth Short herself, as well as the men with whom she consorted, the police officers and detectives who were in charge of investigating her death, and the newspaper reporters who told the story to the world, are all vividly described. Making use of newly released FBI and local police files, Eatwell provides new material pointing to the likely murderer, and then explains the circumstances through which that murderer evaded the law. Perhaps the most interesting parts of the book are those set in the present, in which Eatwell describes her own visits to some of the scenes of the crime and coverup, and eventually even encounters the daughter of the culprit.

    Black Dahlia, Red Rose is a film noir tale brought to life, and is even more fascinating than anything Hollywood in the 1940s could have produced, because it's all true.

  • Linda Marie Marsh

    Meticulously researched with newly opened FBI files, interviews and incredible detective work.....this book about Elizabeth Short was unique among all others.

    I've read others, watched the documentaries and movies, so of course my interest was piqued.

    She was a beautiful woman from the east hoping to make it big in Hollywood, like thousands of others. Her desires, her needs, were no different than anyone elses, particularly at the time. Fame....love.....the need to make something of herself....

    Meticulously researched with newly opened FBI files, interviews and incredible detective work.....this book about Elizabeth Short was unique among all others.

    I've read others, watched the documentaries and movies, so of course my interest was piqued.

    She was a beautiful woman from the east hoping to make it big in Hollywood, like thousands of others. Her desires, her needs, were no different than anyone elses, particularly at the time. Fame....love.....the need to make something of herself.....all made her human. Not just some dissected corpse named Dahlia.

    Eatwells findings shifted my views and thoughts, read it and see what YOU think!

  • Jackie Law

    Black Dahlia Red Rose, by Piu Eatwell, is a re-examination of a brutal murder that occured seventy years ago in America which has never been officially solved. Told as a true crime story it offers a snapshot of Los Angeles, its police department and citizens, in an era that will be familiar from film. As the author writes in her preface:

    “This era is commonly visualized through the movies, as the era of film noir: a time of corrupt cops and gun-toting gangsters, cynical heroes, and bottle blondes

    Black Dahlia Red Rose, by Piu Eatwell, is a re-examination of a brutal murder that occured seventy years ago in America which has never been officially solved. Told as a true crime story it offers a snapshot of Los Angeles, its police department and citizens, in an era that will be familiar from film. As the author writes in her preface:

    “This era is commonly visualized through the movies, as the era of film noir: a time of corrupt cops and gun-toting gangsters, cynical heroes, and bottle blondes doling out deadpan one-liners. But the slick film noir repartee belied the brutal inequalities of reality. In truth, it was a tough time after a tough war in a tough world.”

    This tough world was being navigated by beautiful young women with stars in their eyes who descended on Los Angeles looking for fame. What they found instead were predatory men who viewed the aspiring starlets as expendable game.

    The Black Dahlia was twenty-two year old Elizabeth Short, whose body was found dumped on waste ground in an LA suburb. She had been beaten, slashed, bled out and cut in two. The newspapers of the time were allowed access to evidence and potential suspects that would be unthinkable today. Often it was the journalists who moved the case forward. As evidence mounted it seemed that key figures within the police wished to stifle the investigation.

    Unusually for the time, the LAPD employed a forensic psychologist, Dr Paul De River. He produced a profile of the killer and was subsequently contacted by a man who appeared a potential fit. There were other suspects but the most likely had powerful contacts who routinely paid the police for their cooperation. Corruption ran deep throughout the city and the Black Dahlia was one of many murders in a society that regarded its young women as objects whose purpose was to provide pleasure for others.

    The story is structured in narrative form but is written using facts gleaned from documents produced throughout the original investigation. The LAPD continue to refuse to release key evidence, some of which has mysteriously disappeared. The book provides a detailed account of the crime and those tasked with apprehending a murderer. It is a search for the truth, suppressed on the remit of powerful individuals, now dead.

    From the discovery of the body through to the case being finaly shelved, the reader is offered insights, fully cross-referenced and explained in footnotes, a bibliography and detailed endnotes. The story told is a lesson in the sham of 1950s supposed values, and in the lack of value placed on certain lives. The photographs at the end, drawn from evidence, are chilling.

    The author has studied this evidence, consulted with experts, and drawn a conclusion as to the likely killer. As a lawyer she is well placed to undertake this task. She offers a cinematic retelling of the case that is evocative and compelling. An example of fact being even more shocking than fiction.

    My copy of this book was provided gratis by the publisher, Coronet.

  • Thelastwordreview

    It is January 15th 1947 and in a park in Los Angeles the shocking discovery of the dismembered body of a dark woman is discovered. She was to become known as The Black Dahlia a notorious murder and the investigation that followed would cost the state millions of dollars. In Black Dahlia, Red Rose author Piu Eatwell tries to uncover what really happened and who killed Elizabeth Short.

    Over the years there have been many investigations into the Black Dahlia case, but Piu Eatwell uses her past expe

    It is January 15th 1947 and in a park in Los Angeles the shocking discovery of the dismembered body of a dark woman is discovered. She was to become known as The Black Dahlia a notorious murder and the investigation that followed would cost the state millions of dollars. In Black Dahlia, Red Rose author Piu Eatwell tries to uncover what really happened and who killed Elizabeth Short.

    Over the years there have been many investigations into the Black Dahlia case, but Piu Eatwell uses her past experience as a lawyer and delves into both FBI and LAPD archives to re-examine the case and the police investigation that followed. A tale of half-truths and corrupt officials. Black Dahlia, Red Rose reads from the start like a crime thriller never mind an investigation and this is great credit to Piu Eatwell author of The Dead Duke, his secret wife and the missing Corpse. The fact that this case dates back to 1947 the difficulties of trying to untangle all the documents and sift through the countless police reports not to mention the press who took a great interest in this case are always going to be difficult. Many suspects were interviewed over the murder of Elizabeth Short but no-one was ever charged for the murder of the 22-year-old woman. So the question is where mistakes made in the investigation or was that leads on the case not taken up and followed, then of course there was suspicions of corruption within the force.

    There was of course intense speculation from the press as to Elizabeth Short’s lifestyle, was she a dreamer that fell into the Hollywood dream and wanted fame on the silver screen or was she a crazy man hunter. The press and the Hollywood followers came up with many explanations to the life of The Black Dahlia. Many who ended up on the road to Hollywood came off the rails, but looking at her story it evident that Elizabeth Short was a vulnerable young woman living from one day to the next from one cheap hotel to another and thus men came and men went. It is sad to say that it was just a matter of time before she fell in with the wrong type. The underworld that was then in that part of the world is dark and murky and was to be avoided. A world of sex, drugs corruption and more you enter this world and it is difficult to find an exit. Was this the world that The Black Dahlia inhabited?

    Piu Eatwell writes superbly and although this is a true life crime that she is investigating Eatwell writes like a crime thriller and it reads like and old school crime thriller that has many twists and turns not to mention the shocking details that keep being thrown up. It is a book that anyone who has an interest will have real difficulty in putting this down.

    It would be so easy to claim to have cracked this case but this is not what this book is about. It about pure investigative instinct in wanting to go through the facts look under every stone even those that were not lifted for whatever reason error or otherwise. Is there a suspect at the end of this, well that is something you will have to discover for yourself? Someone murdered Elizabeth Short and got away with. Even after all these years it is time to separate fact from fiction and try and find the killer of one of the most heinous murders in US history. Black Dahlia, Red Rose is a highly recommended read and one that does not disappoint on any level.

  • Wesley Britton

    Eighty years after her murder on January 14 or 15, 1947, you’d think there’d be nothing new to say about the death of Elizabeth Short, dubbed “The Black Dahlia” by the Las Angeles press. Over the decades, her short life has been fictionalized in print and on screen, and she’s been portrayed as everything from a prostitute, would-be actress, a lesbian, to a frigid sexual tease.

    Without question, the moniker of “Black Dahlia” put Short into the national spotlight in 1947 and afterward, along with t

    Eighty years after her murder on January 14 or 15, 1947, you’d think there’d be nothing new to say about the death of Elizabeth Short, dubbed “The Black Dahlia” by the Las Angeles press. Over the decades, her short life has been fictionalized in print and on screen, and she’s been portrayed as everything from a prostitute, would-be actress, a lesbian, to a frigid sexual tease.

    Without question, the moniker of “Black Dahlia” put Short into the national spotlight in 1947 and afterward, along with the much publicized grotesque, lurid details of how her body was found. Her face had been slashed from the corners of her mouth to her ears, portions of her thighs had been sliced away, her body had been cut completely in half, and The lower half of her body was positioned a foot away from the upper half. And that’s just part of the mutilations she endured.

    The public was further intrigued on January 24, 1947 when a suspicious manila envelope was discovered by a U.S. Postal Service worker that had individual words that had been cut-and-pasted from newspaper clippings. A large message on the face of the envelope read: "Here is Dahlia's belongings” containing Short's birth certificate, business cards, photographs, names written on pieces of paper, and an address book with the name Mark Hansen embossed on the cover.

    Not surprisingly, Police quickly deemed Mark Hansen, a man with underworld connections, a suspect. Author Piu Eatwell thinks he was involved, even if she doesn’t think he was the actual killer. She thinks Leslie Dillon, a man with known connections to both Short and Hansen, was.

    Much of Eatwell’s exploration of the case focuses on what happened after the discovery of Short’s corpse and why, in the author’s opinion, the case was never solved. According to the latest historian to try her hand at uncovering the truth to the brutal crime, that elusive truth could have been told long ago if not for the obstruction and cover-ups by a number of Las Angeles police higher-ups who either didn’t want to get into interdepartmental turf wars or didn’t want to upset some gangsters who’d corrupted the LAPD. Like Mark Hansen.

    Eatwell spends little time reviewing the plethora of other theories and other proposed suspects but instead offers her research into why she’s convinced Leslie Dillon got away with murder. She explores what evidence was ignored, neglected, lost, not presented to the 1949 grand jury, and she discusses why some witnesses were pressured into keeping silent. While the crime is shocking enough on its own, how the criminal justice system operated during that era, at least as described by Piu Eatwell, is equally chilling. Like the views of several police officials who felt the death of a footloose 22 year old just wasn’t worth all the trouble to solve the case. Considering all the current problems we’re having with the U.S. judicial system, Piu Eatwell’s portrait of the events of 1947 and after are sadly much too convincing and believable.

    Piu Eatwell’s nonfiction book should appeal to readers who like true crime stories but also fans of fictional murder mysteries. The story of the Black Dahlia is still one with sensational elements and Eatwell presents a vivid and gritty world in which Elizabeth Short died. Her book probably isn’t the last word on the subject, but it is one worthy of contemporary interest.

    This review first appeared at BookPleasures.com on Oct. 4 at:

  • Xisix

    Piu makes fairly clear case that Leslie Dillon in cahoots with Mark Hansen killed Elizabeth Short.

    Rakish, tiny-dicked, pimp who liked to drug girls was "boyfriend" acquaintance who knew her and was identified as staying at Astor Motel where large quantities of blood and feces where cleaned up by owners. The Black Dahlia's trysts and begging from so many men and travelling helped cloud waters of suspects. Add in LAPD conspiracy spearheaded by Finis Albania Brown and you lead to an unsolved case.

    Piu makes fairly clear case that Leslie Dillon in cahoots with Mark Hansen killed Elizabeth Short.

    Rakish, tiny-dicked, pimp who liked to drug girls was "boyfriend" acquaintance who knew her and was identified as staying at Astor Motel where large quantities of blood and feces where cleaned up by owners. The Black Dahlia's trysts and begging from so many men and travelling helped cloud waters of suspects. Add in LAPD conspiracy spearheaded by Finis Albania Brown and you lead to an unsolved case. Thought Leslie Dillon's "creative writing" with it's spelling errors seemed very similar to killer's notes to police. Did grow tired of footnotes on every page though this text made reasonable connections between characters involved and locations. Towards end of book, I wondered what would have happened to the Black Dahlia had she lived ? Independant and doomed.

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