The Black Dahlia Study Guide

The Black Dahlia

The Black Dahlia by James Ellroy

Bucky returns to LA and investigates doctors again. He also decides to interview Buzz Meeks, who admits to lying before about his relationship with Betty. He says he doesn’t know who killed her. He does tells Bucky that Betty auditioned for four movie execs, but they laughed at her and told her she could have a part if she serviced them. She left angry. Bucky asks why Meeks never came forward, but is told Loew told him to keep quiet because all of the men had legitimate alibis.

Bucky gets a call from Madeleine, but he says he can’t see her.

Bucky checks the phone records from Betty’s hotel room and gets the numbers for four doctors. One of the doctors is named Roach, which is a link from Dulange’s story years ago. This doctor lost his license for selling drugs.

Roach claims he was in San Francisco when the murder occurred. During interrogation, he admits he examined Betty for Dulange. She used his phone and called someone named Marcy. Betty then left, saying she had a date.

Bucky connects Emmett Sprague, Madeleine’s father to Betty’s dirty movie. He learns the movie was shot in Hollywood, not Mexico.

One of the bungalows built by Sprague is found, bloodstained. The walls are covered with pictures of crippled and disfigured women and pornographic images. A mattress is caked in blood. Bucky notices a blood spattered anatomy book next to the mattress. Bucky takes dark hair samples, strands of rope, fingerprints, and a boot print as evidence. One print appears identical to Betty’s. He also takes a blood stained baseball bat.

Bucky believes George Tilden killed Betty after being fixed up with her at the Sprague house and confronts Madeleine and her father. They are in bed together, and Bucky is told George is actually Madeleine's biological father. Emmett Sprague tells Bucky that George’s father was an anatomist. George used to like to touch the discarded organs as a child.

George saw Betty when the dirty movie was made and became obsessed because she looked like Madeleine. George demanded to meet Betty or he would tell everyone Madeleine was his daughter. Betty called Madeleine from Dr. Roach’s office and came over. Betty left with George, but never came back for her purse. Madeleine paid Linda to say the movie was filmed in Mexico. Her sister was responsible for the letters.

Bucky intends to kill George. He finds George. His bungalow is filled with jars of organs and a written account of the killing. He finds a flap of skin with a tattoo floating in it. The tattoo says“Betty and Major Matt”. George attacks Bucky with scalpels, but Bucky shoots him.

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