Black Dahlia, Red Rose

A Times Book of the Year 2017 - Shortlisted for the 2018 UK Crime Writers' Association Gold Dagger Award for Non-fiction




UK Edition

UK Edition

US Edition (Hardback/Kindle)

US Edition (Hardback/Kindle)

US Edition (Paperback)

US Edition (Paperback)

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A book proposing a new and startling solution to the infamous ‘Black Dahlia’ murder, one of the most notorious in American history.

On the morning of Wednesday, January 15th 1947, the nude body of a woman was found sprawled on the edge of a vacant lot in the Leimart Park area of Los Angeles. She had been bludgeoned to death, her mouth slit wide on each side. Severe post-mortem lacerations had been made to the body. Most shocking, the corpse had been hacked in two.

The woman was subsequently identified as 22-year old Elizabeth Short, a budding starlet from small town Massachusetts. Elizabeth had made the descent from Hollywood hopeful to a seedy, hand-to-mouth existence on the fringes of the nightclub scene.


Despite hundreds of police hours devoted to the case, and dozens of possible suspects – from celebrities in the movie world such as Orson Welles, to the newspaper tycoon Norman Chandler – the case remains unsolved. Newspapers christened the case the ‘Black Dahlia’ – derived from Elizabeth’s black hair and penchant for wearing black lacey clothes. The murder has become part of Hollywood legend, one of the most elusive and puzzling of noir mysteries. And yet, whilst the writer James Ellroy wrote a powerful fictional treatment of the story in his LA Quartet, not one properly sourced factual account has been written about the case. This book is the first.

Piu Eatwell’s new book on the Black Dahlia murder gathers together the evidence to produce a compelling new solution to the case: a highly persuasive and virtually conclusive account as to who the killer was, why he targeted the Dahlia, and why the case has never been officially ‘solved.’ In so doing, she presents a dark and atmospheric picture of Hollywood in the most brutal, noir period of its history.

Read an excerpt from the book.


Photos courtesy of Los Angeles Times archive, UCLA

Heartrending....Eatwell’s book is a vivid portrait of late 1940s Los Angeles, where gangsters, pimps and corrupt cops mixed in the same circles — and exploited vulnerable women….Her book reads like a thriller, but it never loses sight of the real woman whose life was so savagely extinguished.
— Joan Smith, The Sunday Times (UK)
BLACK DAHLIA, RED ROSE by Piu Eatwell provides fresh evidence that we can never get enough of our favorite pin-up corpse...A juicy page-turner, capturing both the allure and the perils of the dream factory that promised riches and fame to star-struck young women from tired little towns all over war-weary America and who, even today, find themselves at the mercy of predatory men.”
— Marilyn Stasio, New York Times Book Review
Thorough research, which includes evidence never revealed before, or even known to have existed. Readable and convincing.
— Marcel Berlins, The Times UK (Book of the Year, 2017)

A meticulously researched work that is delivered with all the punch, pace and suspense of the finest noir thrillers….Subtitled “America’s most notorious crime solved for the first time”, the book’s cast of characters is as lurid as might be found in any Raymond Chandler novel, as the narrative embraces crusading journalists, sociopathic ex-soldiers, ambitious lawyers and politicians, and a host of shadowy figures from Los Angeles’s criminal underworld. Brilliant at evoking the grimy, amoral excesses of Los Angeles and Hollywood, Eatwell never forgets the tragic figure at the heart of her story, while emphasising the callousness of the post-second World War era in which she was so brutally murdered.

— Declan Burke, The Irish Times
Written in a narrative style that evokes the smoky noir of LA in the 1940s, it’s a gripping tale featuring a host of colourful characters – from hard-boiled cops and intrepid journalists to wannabe actresses and Hollywood gangsters. It was hard to put down. When I wasn’t reading it, I found myself thinking about the Dahlia and her untimely death. But does Eatwell solve the case, as she claims? After three years of painstaking research, she puts forward a compelling and convincing conclusion. It’s a must-read.
— Lisa Gray, The Daily Record (Scotland)
Eatwell pursues her suspect to the nightmarish end, uncovering corruption of every kind, and offers a convincing solution. Her book could also be read as a critique of an era in which emotional devastation and exploitation were inevitable by-products of a system capitalizing on desire.
— Lilian Pizzichini, CWA Gold Dagger Award winner, Mail on Sunday (UK)
A thoroughly researched look at the crime . . . Eatwell successfully paints a portrait of the city and its police department, signifying that the cover-up and corruption involved in this case (as well as throughout the department) was a product of the time and not reflective of today’s practices. . . . .The investigative materials provide a solid foundation for Eatwell’s film noir-style narrative; a first purchase where true crime titles circulate widely.
— Library Journal
A magnificent, meticulous and startling re-examination of a crime that haunts the world’s imagination
— Geoffrey Wansell, bestselling aithough of An Evil Love (official biography of British serial killer Fred West)
Piu Eatwell is hot on the trail of one of the 20th Century’s most famous cold cases — the Black Dahlia murder – and she takes us along for the ride … back to Los Angeles in the winter of 1947, back to the wealth of evidence assembled by the cops, by the tabloids and news dailies, by a 1949 grand jury. The ride is well worth taking, especially when she hones in on a plausible and previously neglected suspect in the case.
— Jon Lewis, author of Hard-Boiled Hollywood: Crime and Punishment in Postwar Los Angeles
Compulsively readable, impeccably researched and heart-rending at times, BLACK DAHLIA RED ROSE deserves a place at the top of any true crime aficionado’s bookshelf. With forensic precision and an admirable eye for detail, Piu Eatwell not only uncovers plausible new insights into the notorious and brutal murder of Elizabeth Short, she unpicks the mores of the time, delves into the motivations of the main players and blasts through the smoky noir clichés surrounding 1940s Los Angeles.

— Sarah Lotz, author of Day Four and The Three
I adored BLACK DAHLIA, RED ROSE. It really does plunge the reader into the grime behind the glamour, bringing to gory life the moral repugnancy of a post-war Gomorrah known as LA. The reader is utterly transported - so close to the action that it felt as though I was riding in the squad car, watching the grotesque autopsies and taking knuckle-dusters to head from the Gangster Squad. As far as I’m concerned, it’s case closed. Absolutely masterful. The perpetrator of whichever unsolved case Piu Eatwell tackles next should be very nervous.
— David Mark, bestselling crime writer and author of The Dark Winter
A compelling read, in both style and substance, and one which packs a heavyweight punch in terms of the evidence uncovered and the resolution offered. This is a comprehensive account of the sad and ultimately tragic life of Elizabeth Short, and the web of intrigue that surrounds her death is untangled here in fascinating and painstaking detail. A must-read for anyone with an interest in the Black Dahlia - or indeed any fan of the true-crime genre.
— Rod Reynolds, bestselling crime writer and author of The Dark Inside
Probably the final book on the case, and the best.
— Maxim Jakubowski, Crime Time
A very detailed journalistic investigation of one of America’s most shocking crimes… Though racked on non-fiction shelves, it is written in almost a novel from/style… The level of research by writer and TV producer Eatwell is extraordinary with its detailed notes, glossaries, index and footnotes… Black Dahlia, Red Rose also casts a long shadow, for it remains in the mind long after the book is put down as it makes one think about our lives, and the lives of others.
— Shotsmag crime magazine
A thorough, focused and evidence-led investigation that presents a convincing case where everything points to one likely suspect as the brutal murderer of the Black Dahlia.
— Noel Megahey, GeekLife @ The Digital Fix
Not since James Ellroy has an author stepped back and taken such an objective look at the Black Dahlia case. Everything about Eatwell’s research is meticulously detailed, giving the reader a fine-tuned insight into the smoky suburbs of LA at a time when police work was gritty and the onslaught of journalists vying for a story was raw and untamed.
— Real Crime Magazine
Informative and insightful account...reading much like a novel at times, thoroughly researched and expertly told.
— Buzz magazine
A convincing case for the Black Dahlia killer’s identity
— Publishers' Weekly