Re: RARA-AVIS: Various authors

From: Doug Bassett (
Date: 21 Nov 2003

> There were several things I liked about Ellroy's
> DAHLIA. I thought the characters were layered and
> complex. I liked the way the dark side was
> portrayed.
> It wasn't just "the bad guys." It permeated almost
> everyone. I thought it superbly ironic that Bucky's
> struggle to bring the Dahlia's murderer to justice
> becomes an obsession that almost does him in. I
> liked
> the scenes. The story was compelling and
> spectacular.
> My guess is that you were pretty much disgusted with
> the scumbag characters (including Bucky) and thought
> the plot sordid and trashy. I imagine the
> difference
> between your experience of the book and mine is
> empathy. You didn't give a damn and I did. Note
> that
> I'm not saying you should have felt different about
> the book. To each his own.
> miker

No, not at all. Actually, my take on it (in brief, and without including spoilers) is that a lot of it read like hand-me-down Wambaugh ("the worst thing about being a cop is the spiritual damage") and that, to be general about it, it's not very well constructed. Basically it felt/feels to me like two seperate stories kind of shoehorned in together: one is "let's see who killed the black dahlia" and the other is
"hey, being a cop really sucks, doesn't it".

I don't think Ellroy really has full control of the material here. He does a better job with BIG NOWHERE, and I will check out the other books in the Quartet. I just think it's strange that DAHLIA is so well-regarded; NOWHERE is IMO a much better book. Maybe because it's the first in the series?

Anyway, opinions vary, of course. And I'm well aware that this is a minority POV.


===== Doug Bassett

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