‘Black Dahlia’ the graphic novel based on the crime novel by James Ellroy. Some readers might know about the “Black Dahlia” case, it’s one of the most famous unsolved murder case in America. Elizabeth Short, an aspiring actor, was found brutally murdered in a LA neighbourhood and was dubbed as “Black Dahlia” by the Press. 

The graphic novel tells us a fictionalized account of the murder, and follows two cops trying to solve the case. The biggest different between the real life case and this fictional account is the fact that the police is able to pin down the identity of the murderers in the novel, unlike in real life. And the story heavily focuses on the personal lives of the two cops, who are very close friends and find themselves growing increasingly obsesses with the murder mystery.

Since the timeline of the story in late 1940s, the tone on the novel is very patriarchal, bordering on almost regressive. Elizabeth Short in real life was rumored to be a lesbian and homosexuality is obviously not cast in a favorable light, considering it was still ‘illegal’ at the time. This was almost two decades before the Stonewall Riots escalated the movement for gay rights. That said, it’s still a very interesting book, since there is a shocking murder and a lot of suspense surrounding it.

The artwork is very retro and is able to evoke the mood of a bygone era. Almost all the characters are grey and the climax is intriguing, if not satisfying. You’ll probably find yourself hooked to the book or hate it right off the bat. The plot is a little confusing in the beginning for international readers, because it involves a lot of police politics and lingo that might come across as alien, but after a few pages, you will get the hang of everything that’s happening.

Despite the author giving us a fair enough conclusion to who the murderer was, ‘Black Dahlia’ still makes for a pretty gripping murder mystery. It’s a 4/5 from me.

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