Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Author Denise Hamilton to guest on Esotouric's Black Dahlia Murder bus tour

Neo-Noir Author Denise Hamilton Guests on Black Dahlia Murder Bus Tour

WHAT: Esotouric's Real Black Dahlia Crime Bus Tour

WHO: In addition to regular tour content, guest host Denise Hamilton talks about 1940s L.A. and signs her new novel "The Last Embrace" and "LA Noir" anthology

WHEN: Saturday June 21, 12pm-4pm (tour repeats August 16)

WHERE: Departing from The Millennium Biltmore Hotel, 5th & Olive, L.A.
FYI: Despite the myths, the Biltmore was the actually second-to-last place Beth Short was seen alive; this tour goes to the real last spot as well.

COST: $55/person (15% off for KCRW members)

INFO:, 323-223-2767

Since January 1947, one iconic murder mystery has lingered unsolved at the forefront of the American imagination, with dozens of books, films and web sites dedicated to solving the slaying of Beth Short, the girl who came to Hollywood hoping to make it, and ended up cut in two in a vacant lot. Suspects in the Black Dahlia murder have included L.A. Times publisher Norman Chandler and Orson Welles, crazed lesbians, twisted drifters and more than one writer's father, but still the mystery abides. When Esotouric launched their crime tours in 2007, The Real Black Dahlia was an immediate hit, and has remained their most popular tour.

Esotouric recently reinvented the tour, and in June it gets a new starting point: the historic Biltmore Hotel lobby where Beth Short spent some of last moments before vanishing. The original tour offered a comparison of the various theories that swirl around this notorious unsolved mutilation murder, but the victim sometimes got lost in all the conjecture.To celebrate starting at the Biltmore, a very special guest has been added to the June 21 tour.

Author Denise Hamilton, creator of the Eve Diamond mysteries, will be on board with just-shipped copies of her new historic novel "The Last Embrace." Set in the Black Dahlia's 1940s L.A. milieu, the book is loosely based on another unsolved crime, the disappearance and presumed murder of starlet Jean Spangler. On the bus will Denise share her experiences researching the period, and draw comparisons between her book's victim and other unsolved crimes of the day. After the tour, she'll talk with passengers and sign books.

Denise says. "I'm looking forward to chatting with everyone about gangsters, starlets, rooming houses, the Golden Age of Hollywood, special effects whiz Ray Harryhausen, underground gay clubs, and what it was like to be a young single woman navigating the glories and dangers of 1949 Hollywood."

The Real Black Dahlia is dedicated to revealing who victim Elizabeth Short really was by exploring her life in L.A. from mid 1946 to her January 1947 murder through examination of the police investigation and news coverage. The various theories are up for discussion during the onboard Q&A sections, and the hosts share their idea of who the killer might have been, but the focus is firmly on the 22-year-old woman whose death continues to fascinate.

Along the way, passengers will explore the social history of postwar L.A. and its lively downtown scene and learn the role the city played in Short's mysterious death before rolling south to the formerly vacant lot where her bisected body was discovered on January 15, 1947. Just blocks away, passengers visit the home of Dr. Walter Bayley, who has recently emerged as the most compelling suspect, with his personal ties to Beth Short's family and the crime scene, and the surgical skill needed to bisect the body.

The tour includes a cop-approved snack stop for Krispy Kreme donuts and a presentation from cosmetics historian Joan Renner exploring Beth Short's unusual proto-goth make up, so different from the popular girl next store look of 1947, and a key to understanding her psychology.

Passengers on this eye-opening and informative tour will leave with a new understanding of the Black Dahlia and Jean Spangler cases and what it was like to be a single woman in 1940s Los Angeles. It is highly recommended for natives and newcomers, crime and history buffs and anyone who likes to seek out the unexpected.

Upcoming Esotouric bus tour schedule (new tours starred):
Sat June 21 - The Real Black Dahlia with guest Denise Hamilton
Sat June 28 ­ Amoeba Music - Where the Action Was rock history tour with guest star Ruthann Friedman (composer of "Windy")
*Sat July 12 - Reyner Banham Loves Los Angeles: The New Chinatowns
Sat July 26 - Pasadena Confidential
Sat Aug.2 - Reyner Banham Loves Los Angeles: Route 66
Sat Aug 9- Vroman's Bookstore ­ Haunts of A Dirty Old Man: Charles Bukowki's LA
Sat Aug 16 - The Real Black Dahlia
Sat Aug 23 ­ John Fante's Dreams from Bunker Hill
Sun Sept 7 - Reyner Banham Loves Los Angeles: South LA
Sat Sept 20 ­ Reyner Banham Loves Los Angeles: The Many Downtowns / Main Street Vice
Sat Oct 11- Vroman's Bookstore - Raymond Chandler's LA
Sat Oct 18- Raymond Chandler's Bay City
Sat Oct 25 ­ Halloween Horrors

For more info on Esotouric, visit

For more on Denise Hamilton, including early reviews and the first chapter of "The Last Embrace," visit

For more on the Dr. Walter Bayley theory, visit Larry Harnisch's "Heaven is Here" website

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