Several readers have asked if I could provide them with information about my “series” of books related to the serial crimes committed by my father, Dr. George Hill Hodel.
Happy to comply.
Below is the suggested reading order and a brief summary of some of the evidence found in each separate book.
Please understand that the “series” is just one ongoing investigation and much like a real-life police “Murder Book” presents the actual continuing investigation, evidence, and witness statements as they unfolded chronologically over the past two decades.
Here then, is the suggested reading order and a to paraphrase a line from The Godfather movie, “I’ll give you just enough to dip your beak in it,” and leave you to discover the rest on your own.
A New York Times Best Seller!
In 1947, the brutal, sadistic murder of a beautiful young woman named Elizabeth Short led to the largest manhunt in LA history. The killer teased and taunted the police and public for weeks. Still, his identity stayed a mystery, and the murder remained the most tantalizing unsolved case of the last century until this book revealed the bizarre solution.
Steve Hodel, a retired LAPD detective who was a private investigator, took up the case, reviewing the original evidence and records and those of a separate grand jury investigation into a series of murders of single women in LA at the time. The prime suspect had, in fact, been identified but never indicted. Why? And who was he? In an account that partakes both of LA Confidential and Zodiac, for the corruption it exposes and the insight it offers into a serial killer’s mind, Hodel demonstrates that there was a massive police cover-up. Even more shocking, he proves that the murderer, a true-life Jekyll-and-Hyde who was a highly respected member of society by day and a psychopathic killer by night, was his own father. This edition of the book includes new findings and photographs added after the author’s original publication and a new postscript.
When veteran LAPD homicide detective Steve Hodel discovered that his own late father, Dr. George Hill Hodel, was the killer in the infamous Black Dahlia murder case, he wrote the bestseller, Black Dahlia Avenger, a book that convinced even the LA County Deputy District Attorney that George Hodel was responsible for Elizabeth Short’s gruesome death.
As a veteran police investigator, Steve Hodel’s instincts told him that if his father was capable of that level of cruelty, it probably didn’t begin or end with the Black Dahlia. Steve Hodel has devoted his life to examining the evidence of his father’s fascinating and mysterious life, and shocking new revelations that have come to light in the last five years are the subject of Most Evil.
If Steve Hodel’s research is correct, Dr. George Hill Hodel was among the most prolific serial killers in history, beginning as a young man and continuing to kill throughout his long life of 91 years. Among his crimes are dozens of unsolved murder cases stretching back 60 years.
Most Evil compiles an astonishing amount of never-before-seen visual, circumstantial, and forensic evidence to prove Hodel’s case. This relentless, compelling, and persuasive investigation will revolutionize the way we think about some of the most intriguing, brutal, unsolved, and previously unconnected murders in American history – and it may change our understanding of serial killers altogether.
In Black Dahlia Avenger II, bestselling author and veteran homicide detective Steve Hodel presents his six-year follow-up investigation [2006-2011] into Los Angeles’s 1947 Black Dahlia and other serially connected 1940s Lone Woman Murders. After the 2003 publication of his NYT bestseller and MWA Edgar nominated true-fact crime book, Black Dahlia Avenger: A Genius for Murder, and receiving a “CASE SOLVED” legal opinion from many of LA’s top law enforcement officials—which included a then active Head Deputy District Attorney and LAPD’s Chief of Detectives—Hodel didn’t stop there.
In this investigative sequel, he presents his careful deconstruction of the Dahlia Legend—exposing and correcting the Black Dahlia Murder’s Three Greatest Urban Myths: Myth No. 1—”It was a standalone murder.” Myth No. 2—”There was a ‘Missing or Lost Week'” Myth No. 3—”The case was never solved.”
Some of BDA II’s new investigative findings: The obtaining of the killer’s full DNA PROFILE can now be made available for law enforcement testing and comparison to multiple Cold Case unsolved crimes.
Discovery of the Hollywood residence where the BLACK DAHLIA MURDER was committed along with physical evidence connecting the killer to the house and to the vacant lot where he later transported and posed the victim’s body. Identification of “The Baron,” George Hodel’s house guest, and an accomplice overheard and tape-recorded by detectives discussing “crimes and payoffs” on the 1950 DA/LAPD bugging tapes. New expert medical testimony and evidence photos proving— “A Doctor Did It.” Complete original and unabridged 1950 DA-Hodel Black Dahlia Bugging Transcripts. [146 pages.]
THE HUSTON LETTERS- Personal correspondence between famed film director John Huston and his ex-wife, Dorothy Huston Hodel [the author’s mother], covering the years 1948-1957. In these private letters, Dorothy shared with John the day-to-day personal fear and terror she was experiencing living with George Hodel, as the doctor threatened her and the children with physical harm in the months just before he fled the country. A World-Class Surrealist Photographer reveals his first-hand knowledge of the murders. Over 300 photographs and crime exhibits, including the 1969 Sowden House 17-Photo Historical Survey
Most Evil II is Steve Hodel’s follow-up investigation (2009-2015) into his father’s potential murders and introduces new evidence and additional linkage obtained by him over the past six years.
Included in that evidence is the solving of the Zodiac’s forty-five-year cryptic cipher, which gives us the answer to the question asked in Most Evil, “Were Black Dahlia Avenger and Zodiac the same serial killer?”
The solution of that cipher provides us with the name of San Francisco’s most infamous serial killer. However, it is not presented as just another “theory” from some armchair detective, or even from the author himself, a highly respected, veteran LAPD homicide detective. Rather, the solution comes from the killer’s own mouth, written in his own hand–it is Zodiac’s personally signed confession!
In Black Dahlia Avenger III, bestselling author and veteran LAPD homicide detective Steve Hodel presents his four-year follow-up investigation into Los Angeles’s 1947 Black Dahlia murder and other serially connected 1940s Lone Woman Murders.
Includes all-new evidence and forensics further linking his father, Dr. George Hill Hodel, to the 1947 Black Dahlia Murder and the 1945 Chicago Lipstick Murders, the Manila “Jigsaw Murder” and the 1969 San Francisco Bay Area “Zodiac” murders. Black Dahlia Avenger III (2018) continues the investigation of the 2003 New York Times Bestseller and Edgar-award winning Black Dahlia Avenger, and Black Dahlia Avenger II, and it raises the investigative bar from rock-solid to beyond a reasonable doubt—the legal requirement for readers to arrive at a finding of GUILTY.
Retired LAPD Homicide Detective III, Steve Hodel, brings over 50 years of law enforcement, homicide, and private investigative experience to bear on what the Texas Rangers said, “Remains the biggest unsolved mystery in the American Southwest.”
March 1938—The breaking story started slow, announcing that a mother and daughter, traveling in their touring car, cross country from California to the East Coast, “were missing on a West Texas highway.”
Within days came a second announcement cautioning that “foul play was suspected.” Next, their abandoned car was found, and on the fifth day of the search, the nation’s worst fears were realized.
August 2019—Eighty-one years later, in what can be considered one of the nation’s coldest of cold cases, IN THE MESQUITE carefully reconstructs the chronology of the double-homicide based on original law enforcement documents, newspaper reportage, and eye-witness accounts.
As silent passengers in the back seat of Hazel and Nancy Fromes’ brand new 1937 Silver Packard, Series-Eight 7-seater touring car, we ride along on their journey from California to visit their daughter and sister, and family on the East Coast.
The identification and naming of the mother and daughter’s sadistic killer(s) and the evidence presented offering the solution will satisfy both sense and reason.
The author, a highly-skilled former LAPD homicide detective, provides his readers with the answer to the three basic requirements needed to solve this crime: —the MOM—the killer’s Motive, his Opportunity, and his Means.
In The Mesquite: The Solving of the 1938 West Texas Kidnap Torture Murders of Hazel and Nancy Frome was initially intended to be the final chapter in my upcoming book, The Early Years, which investigation is ongoing.
However, due to the amount of discovery and evidence in the Fromes mother/daughter double homicide, I chose to make their investigation a separate, standalone book published in 2019.
I anticipate completing and publishing The Early Years by the end of 2022.
An exellent overview of this Author’s work and a helpful guide on the best order of reading them. The many stories in this continuing saga have captivated me for years.
Yep, you were there from the getgo in 2003. Best, Steve
Some wonder if the Zodiac murders were somewhat similar to lovecraftian fiction. In the novel The Shadow over Innsmouth by HP Lovecraft ship captain Obed Marsh finds new gods that give him plenty of fish. But the idols like to get something in return. So Obed gets busy. The peculiar garment worn by the Lake Berryessa killer 1969 maybe had some other meaning than hooded executioner. The details of the deed give a ritualistic impression.
Haven’t read the novel “Shadow over Innsmouth” but just in quick review/research don’t see it as relates to the Berryessa crimes, other than they are near water and he comes at them from behind a tree masked. Much closer to the “costume” worn by Count Zaroff (as in “Z”) in Richard Connell’s novel, THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME (pub. in 1924 and made into a film in 1932). I do think the latter was GHH’s “inspiration” especially since he specifically likens his crimes to “a game.”
But why did the Berryessa culprit appear to treat his victims like tied lambs on an altar? Why did he use a knife when he had a firearm? It more resembled a sinister ceremony than perverted hunting.
Zodiac was all over the map on crime MO/crime Signatures. On back of his card he wrote, “By Gun, By Knife, By Rope, By Fire.” He used gun, knife, rope on various victims. It’s an Old School Myth that suspects always keep to the same MO. Especially GHH. His victims ages ranged from 8 to 50. Males and females.
Nice to have these orderly summaries, Steve! Have read them all and each book brought back to me events & people I had not thought of for years! Your books gave me a whole new insight on my favorite song “Hotel California”…….sometimes Paradise, sometimes Hell! Your last book “In the Mesquite” really hit hard as I recalled a car trip to Texas with my mom in 1959😱. Relating a conversation I had with a friend who had read one of your books he stated that “boy he sure goes into detail on those clues”! I replied “Yes, that’s how he (you) gets the ‘aha’ moment….an instinct so vital to great detective work!” Good to hear The Early Years coming soon!
Carry on👍!! 😎🌵
Thanks again. You have always been so gracious and kind through the years in regard to my books.
Impressed you’ve read them all. Yes, Heaven and Hell for sure. “The Early Years” will be as mind-boggling as “The Later Years.”
And, again, every time I think I’ve “finished the investigation” a new door opens and slaps me in the butt as I walk through it into new discoveries. (And, that’s happening now BEFORE all my armchair detectives have at it.) Thanks again. Stay safe and well.
The logging camp in AZ….. “Sole Surgeon” ….
Are there records or documents somewhere showing this?
Yes, the documentation is scanned and included in my books.
I found the 1942 scanned application showing a job at a logging camp. Why would George include the logging camp job on that (scanned) application and omit the logging camp job on future work history/ employment applications? Which is correct?– The scanned application stating the job position or the application where the position is omitted?
Yes, an interesting omission. I wonder if “Peek between the Pines” (reminiscent of one of the Civilian Conservation Corps patches) or the cluster of three eyes grouped like the CCC logo on the tree in the Halloween Card reference that period. Or, if there is an intentional poetic link between the “Tree Army” (CCC), the Battle of the Trees in THE WHITE GODDESS and the associated “Tree Alphabet” (Ogham.) More tentatively, what about the “Clu Clux Clan” mentioned in one of the Count Marco column letters linked by reference to the Zodiac Red Phantom letter.? Was that possibly an insider’s joke name for the CCC? Is there a murder we don’t know about yet?
Not sure which application you are referring to that has it omitted?
He included it on his UNRRA application with dates as well as other positions post-graduation. I don’t see the absence of listing it in a separate resume/work appl is of any real import or significance? Bottom line is that he DID serve as a sole surgeon at a logging camp during the Thirties.
UNRRA? Have you posted/shown the logging camp job description/position ( on blog or books– don’t have all the books) specifically from the UNRRA application?
In his UNRRA application he lists his commission in the U.S. Public Health Service with the rank of ” P.A. Surgeon.” Also, his position with the State Department of Public Health in Santa Fe, New Mexico as the District Health officer. (1937-1938).
Can’t wait to read in the mesquite and the early yrs.I’ve read the others (some twice).I find myself totally disgusted and completely fascinated by Dr Hodel.
The man was truly fascinating and scary.having read the books n studied some on the case n the doctor n I have a lot of questions but two that have been bouncing around lately.
First do you think maybe the reason your father took the job working in Hawaii with the criminally insane was in some way to perhaps pick their brains or study them to find insight to why he killed and raped women.it just seems quite a coincidence he’d enter that field right after fleeing from murder charges. Maybe murder having ruined his world,( all be it temporarily) maybe he was trying honestly to figure out why and to stop.
Also do you think drugs specifically hash played a role in the murders. I ask due to the statement your sister made about the visit before the mamas n papas concert. The Asian woman accompanying George mentioned he made them “lock him in the bathroom” when he smoked because he did “terrible things” to me that’s vey telling and in the context of his history, I see that as nearly a confession itself.
I can’t wait to get my hands on the early years. Thanks for all you do. I read the first book in 2010 n I’ve been hooked since.thanks.
Thanks for the kind words. Much appreciated. As to your questions.
No, don’t think it was pre-planned. I think that the opportunity opened up and dad seized the moment. New psychiatrist, great opportunity to get some “training” plus his natural curiosity for all things MFU. (Mentally Fucked Up. ) Fit right in with his love of game playing for sure. The serial killer counseling murders. (Dr. Hannibal Lecter diagnosing prison inmates before Dr. Lecter was invented.) A decade later there are indications that GHH was attempting to stop the monster within him, but whether that was real or affected, hard to say? As to drugs, hard to know? Drugs and booze certainly would/could have contributed to pushing him over the edge, self-control-wise, but how much they were a factor, just don’t know? It would appear that the crimes ended possibly with cab-driver, Paul Stine in Oct 1969, which is when June Hirano came into his life and may well been the cause of his “getting clean” from booze and drugs? Thus, helping to remove potential triggers. Of course he also just “got old.” Best, Steve