Severed: The True Story of the Black Dahlia Murder

John Gilmore, Author Amok Books $16.95 (288p) ISBN 978-1-878923-10-3
Gilmore, whose father was an LAPD cop at the time of Elizabeth Short's murder, delves deeply into one of Hollywood's most celebrated murder cases. His true-crime procedural unfurls like a hard-boiled film noir and plays the victim's femme fatale persona to the hilt. Nicknamed ""the Black Dahlia"" by fellow barflies taken with her jet-black hair, black dresses and exotic looks, small-town Massachusetts beauty queen Short went to Hollywood seeking stardom. In 1947, she was brutally murdered at age 22, her naked, mutilated body found hacked in two in a vacant lot. Gilmore presents evidence that strengthens the LAPD's case against chief suspect Jack Wilson, a reclusive, alcoholic burglar and possible serial killer. In an afterword, Gilmore describes his early 1980s interview with Wilson, who divulged details of the crime that only the killer could have known. Wilson, who died in a hotel fire just days before his pending arrest, also made what could be an indirect admission of his involvement in the murder of promiscuous Hollywood socialite Georgette Bauerdorf months before the Short slaying. That case, charges Gilmore, was hushed up by the LAPD and the media under pressure from William Randolph Hearst, who was a friend of Bauerdorf's father. Gilmore's book has all the elements of a gritty movie: a sexual psychopath; a dedicated police detective pursuing the killer for decades; Short's reported anatomic anomaly, underdeveloped sex organs, which may have prevented her from having intercourse. It's no wonder that Severed has been optioned for film by David Lynch. 32 pages of photos. (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 08/31/1998
Release date: 09/01/1998
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