Monday, April 25, 2011

Finished: "Black Dahlia Avenger" by Steve Hodel

Finished: Black Dahlia Avenger by Steve Hodel, 2003, 9781559706643.

There are many things I thought about while reading this. I think everything boils down to: wishful thinking bullshit.

Hodel's father was a babe hound who chased and controlled women and then dumped the women and their children and moved on. The guy was a louse and a jerk, but since he was a charming physician he kept on doing so successfully. Hodel Author had a distant relationship with his emotionally and physically distant (lived in the Philippines) father. In later years Dr. Hodel had moved to San Francisco and the author and dad had started to regularly communicate and socialize until the father's death in 1999.

While visiting his father's widow (fourth wife?) Hodel came across a small photobook that included an old photo of Hodel Author's first wife - a marriage that ended badly. The photo pre-dated author's marriage and the wife and dad met only once after the marriage Another two photos also seem quite familiar and he recognizes the girl as Elizabeth Short - the Black Dahlia of 1947. Hodel starts to dig. Hodel thinks dad killed Short. Hodel digs more and presents his "evidence" in the book. That is correct, I put quotes around evidence.

Hodel believes Hodel Senior murdered Short and several other women. Hodel Author believes Hodel Senior was protected by the police due to Hodel Seniors participation in a local abortion ring. Hodel Senior was a friend of Man Ray and Hodel Author thinks Hodel Senior used bodies as homage to Ray's work.

1. I do not know Hodel Author but I think hatred for his craphead father who abandoned author and family when author was only 5-years-old (or so). Hodel's mom was an alcoholic who moved the family from apartment to apartment. Hodel and siblings were taken in by social services several times.
2. The only compelling evidence is hand writing analysis of dad's writing versus notes penned by the killer. I don't have much faith in that evidence. Everything else is conjecture: proximity of body dump and Hodel's office and home, possible connections between Man Ray's photos and the display of Short, descriptions of suspects as tall, dark-haired and handsome, etc.
3. Hodel Author had a Los Angeles District Attorney, Stephen R. Kay, look at his case presentation to determine if Hodel's work would merit charging Hodel Senior if he were alive. Kay writes, "Yes, there is enough". I say, "Bullshit!" If I were on the jury my eyes would be stuck from rolling my eyes so much.
4. Hodel Author does have a follow-up book and continues to dig and find more connections. But, all the connections are tenuous. Yes, he seems to place Hodel Senior near and around Short. Yes, he seems to place Hodel Senior into a police protected abortion ring. But, so what? It's all conjecture and guesswork and wishful thinking with no (or minor) paperwork or witnesses to back it up
5. Hodel Author was a policeman and detective with the LAPD for 24 years. He was a homicide detective for a massive chunk of those years. I really think if he were to look at this objectively he would see the many holes in his case.
EDIT 6: One thing I do like about the book is Hodel Author's extensive research on LAPD and LA crime history. I have already received a book he mentions in the text. There are others by police and reporters that I would like to read.
EDIT 7: I don't believe those are Short's photos in Hodel Seniors photobook. I wonder if the recent work by Hodel Author involved trying to match those photos versus known photos.

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