Sunday, 24 February 2013

The Black Dahlia Files – Donald H Wolfe, 2006

Hideous unsolved crimes, with female murder and mutilation, such as the Jack the Ripper Murders and the Black Dahlia case capture the imagination; I wish that they wouldn’t but I find myself drawn to them. Mary Kelly and Elizabeth Short were subjected to intense torture and trauma; they may have died of their wounds or of the shock that went with them. We cringe at the details but we turn the page to read more, all the same.
Yet still their murders remain officially unsolved. Many writers have presented extremely credible explanations as to who may have been responsible. Each time I read a book on the subject I am convinced. It is only when I step back that I question the supposed answer and my own gullibility.
In this case, Wolfe presents a perfectly good hypothesis to explain the demise of a would-be starlet. But it just seems to me that his explanation is so totally dependent upon Siegel’s demise, later in the same year. Without this, his whole case would fall apart. Norman Chandler may have been in need of protection but, if – and this is the other very important IF – he was not the father of a baby which Short may or may not have been carrying, there is no reason to suspect that the mob would have been called in at all. And even if Chandler was a putative father and Short refused an abortion, and he called upon his underworld connections, Siegel, surely, had greater fish to fry. His investment in The Flamingo in Las Vegas was in peril and Luciano was on his back. It seems unlikely to me that he would take time out to torture and kill a woman he had no previous connection with as a favour to a friend who could wield no power over him.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. Just because I dispute the ultimate conclusion, I do not discount the investigation and the obsession which has driven it forward. It was compulsive reading, even though it constantly sent shivers down my spine. The picture, indeed, are enough to turn anyone’s stomach.
This is a horrid murder but a wonderful , if unsettling, book.The Black Dahlia Files – Donald H Wolfe, 2006
Hideous unsolved crimes, with female murder and mutilation, such as the Jack the Ripper Murders and the Black Dahlia case capture the imagination; I wish that they wouldn’t but I find myself drawn to them. Mary Kelly and Elizabeth Short were subjected to intense torture and trauma; they may have died of their wounds or of the shock that went with them. We cringe at the details but we turn the page to read more, all the same.
Yet still their murders remain officially unsolved. Many writers have presented extremely credible explanations as to who may have been responsible. Each time I read a book on the subject I am convinced. It is only when I step back that I question the supposed answer and my own gullibility.
In this case, Wolfe presents a perfectly good hypothesis to explain the demise of a would-be starlet. But it just seems to me that his explanation is so totally dependent upon Siegel’s demise, later in the same year. Without this, his whole case would fall apart. Norman Chandler may have been in need of protection but, if – and this is the other very important IF – he was not the father of a baby which Short may or may not have been carrying, there is no reason to suspect that the mob would have been called in at all. And even if Chandler was a putative father and Short refused an abortion, and he called upon his underworld connections, Siegel, surely, had greater fish to fry. His investment in The Flamingo in Las Vegas was in peril and Luciano was on his back. It seems unlikely to me that he would take time out to torture and kill a woman he had no previous connection with as a favour to a friend who could wield no power over him.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. Just because I dispute the ultimate conclusion, I do not discount the investigation and the obsession which has driven it forward. It was compulsive reading, even though it constantly sent shivers down my spine. The picture, indeed, are enough to turn anyone’s stomach.
This is a horrid murder but a wonderful , if unsettling, book.

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