20 September 2014

Tinsletown; William J. Mann

Tinseltown: Murder, Morphine, and Madness at the Dawn of HollywoodTinseltown: Murder, Morphine, and Madness at the Dawn of Hollywood by William J. Mann
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I picked this up because I'd read A Cast of Killers years ago, little realizing that this is about the exact same murder! Silly me.

Of course the author thinks that his solution is the only possibly solution, but at this remove it's never easy to definitively say. The earlier book used King Vidor's "missing year" spent investigating as the narrative device, this one careens from this person to that, telling some of their backstory and how they fit into the world of Hollywood in the early 1920s. It does feel a little less focused than it could be, particularly given the sheer number of people we are introduced to (and some seem like red herrings, not really relevant to the story).

Two complaints: we got that Zuckor was short early on. We really didn't need to have it hammered home every time Zuckor appeared in the book. And while everyone else got the backstory treatment, William Desmond Taylor (or William Dean-Tanner) didn't really, which bothered me. There are hints and clews [sic] aplenty, but why not spare a paragraph to fill in what we actually know about him? And one niggle: WDT's brother is mentioned in the very beginning of the book but never again. Why?

Now I need to dig Cast out and re-read to see what other pieces can be filled in.

ARC provided by publisher.

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