Black Dahlia, Red Rose

UK Edition

UK Edition

US Edition

US Edition


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)
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
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
A convincing case for the Black Dahlia killer’s identity
— Publishers' Weekly