The Black Dahlia
James Ellroy, , read by Stephen Hoye. . Random House Audio, $29.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-7393-2388-5
Narrator Hoye firmly nails young world-weary cop Bucky Bleichert in this audio version of Ellroy's 1987 crime novel. The flawed boxer-turned-lawman becomes obsessed with L.A.'s notorious unsolved 1947 torture-murder case, as well as the secret life of his missing partner, Lee Blanchard. Hoye proves a fine match for Ellroy's hardboiled prose, shuttling easily between hard and soft tones, crystallizing Bleichert's mix of cynicism, confusion, hurt and rage. Set in booming postwar Los Angeles, this tale of ambition, deceit and obsession builds to symphonic proportions. Throughout, Hoye skillfully modulates his narration to distinctly render each character—corrupt cops, city officials, pimps, GIs, Mexican bar owners, prostitutes, society matrons and even the sound of a bullet piercing canvas. Hoye especially shines during heated police interrogations, able to shift his voice on a dime. The audio includes a new afterword from Ellroy, which might have delivered more punch had Ellroy read it himself. But in terms of this gritty, sprawling novel, Hoye was unquestionably the right man for the job.
Reviewed on: 10/02/2006