Murder, Morphine, and Madness at the Dawn of Hollywood

Book - 2014
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New York Times Bestseller

Edgar Award winner for Best Fact Crime

The Day of the Locust meets The Devil in the White City and Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil in this juicy, untold Hollywood story: an addictive true tale of ambition, scandal, intrigue, murder, and the creation of the modern film industry.

By 1920, the movies had suddenly become America's new favorite pastime, and one of the nation's largest industries. Never before had a medium possessed such power to influence. Yet Hollywood's glittering ascendency was threatened by a string of headline-grabbing tragedies--including the murder of William Desmond Taylor, the popular president of the Motion Picture Directors Association, a legendary crime that has remained unsolved until now.

In a fiendishly involving narrative, bestselling Hollywood chronicler William J. Mann draws on a rich host of sources, including recently released FBI files, to unpack the story of the enigmatic Taylor and the diverse cast that surrounded him--including three beautiful, ambitious actresses; a grasping stage mother; a devoted valet; and a gang of two-bit thugs, any of whom might have fired the fatal bullet. And overseeing this entire landscape of intrigue was Adolph Zukor, the brilliant and ruthless founder of Paramount, locked in a struggle for control of the industry and desperate to conceal the truth about the crime. Along the way, Mann brings to life Los Angeles in the Roaring Twenties: a sparkling yet schizophrenic town filled with party girls, drug dealers, religious zealots, newly-minted legends and starlets already past their prime--a dangerous place where the powerful could still run afoul of the desperate.

A true story recreated with the suspense of a novel, Tinseltown is the work of a storyteller at the peak of his powers--and the solution to a crime that has stumped detectives and historians for nearly a century.

Publisher: New York : Harper, c2014.
Edition: 1st ed.
ISBN: 9780062242167
Characteristics: xi, 463 p. : ill., map


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ss1989 Jun 03, 2015

Spoiler Alert!: The killer is never ''found'' or confirmed, rather. A little more than half way in and realizing that I questioned whether or not I actually wanted to finish the book, what with all of the build up of the murder and all. Plus there are a few other secrets hinted at and teased to the reader that are never revealed. Despite that ( and some other boring - to my taste -general business jargon of the silent film era) the book was 1 of the fastest reads ever and I ate it up quick as I could.

Apr 18, 2015

The author looks at the origins of Hollywood through the lens of the murder of William Desmond Taylor. This book is very detailed about the cast of characters as well as the people and conflicts of the early 1920's. Worth reading but is probably 70 pages too long.

Mar 25, 2015

Chronical-true life mystery is as snappy and streamlined as a Dashiell Hammett whodunit

ChristchurchLib Jan 12, 2015

In 1922, Hollywood was shocked by the murder of William Desmond Taylor, president of the Motion Pictures Directors Association -- a crime that is still unsolved to this day. Tinseltown (a "stellar and gripping true-crime narrative," says Publishers Weekly) offers not only an entirely plausible solution to the murder but places it within the context of the birth of the motion picture industry and the challenges in faced in the 1920s. Readers who enjoy star-studded true crime won't want to miss this satisfying tale. Popular Culture January 2015 newsletter.

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