Sunday, October 12, 2014


Tinseltown: Murder, Morphine, and Madness at the Dawn of Hollywood 
by William J. Mann
HarperCollins: 10/14/2014
eBook, 480 pages

ISBN-13: 9780062242167
Who killed Billy Taylor, one of Hollywood's most beloved men?
For nearly a century, no one has known.
Until now.
In the early 1920s, millions of Americans flocked to movie palaces every year to see their favorite stars on the silver screen. Never before had a popular art so captured the public's imagination, nor had a medium ever possessed such power to influence. But Hollywood's glittering ascendancy was threatened by a string of lurid, headline-grabbing tragedies, including the murder of William Desmond Taylor, the handsome and popular president of the Motion Picture Directors Association—a legendary crime that has remained unsolved since 1922.
Now, in this fiendishly involving narrative, bestselling Hollywood chronicler William Mann draws on a rich host of sources, many untapped for decades, to reopen the case of the upstanding yet enigmatic Taylor and the diverse cast that surrounded him—including three loyal ingenues, a grasping stage mother, a devoted valet, a gang of two-bit thugs, the industry's reluctant new morals czar, and the moguls Adolph Zukor and Marcus Loew, locked in a struggle for control of the exploding industry. Along the way, Mann brings to life Los Angeles in the Roaring Twenties: a sparkling yet schizophrenic town filled with party girls and drug dealers, 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 re-created with the thrilling suspense of a novel, Tinseltown is the work of a master craftsman at the peak of his powers.
My Thoughts:  

Tinseltown by William J. Mann is a very highly recommended true crime novel and offers a solution to a 1922 Hollywood murder.

Opening with the discovery of William Desmond Taylor body, this nonfiction novel explores the decadence of 1920's Hollywood and offers a solution to the unsolved murder.
Billy Taylor was a prominent director at the time of his murder and was found shot in his apartment by his valet. Mann then explores the life of Taylor and the studio executives and the three women involved with him in some capacity.

This is a very thorough examination of all the suspects as well as the cover-ups and concerns over bad publicity by the studios. After the murder, Mann goes back in time sixteen months to set the history of those involved during that particular time in history. Mann carefully follows the leads and information his research uncovers. Between the inept police investigation and the involvement (and interference) of the studio in the evidence in an attempt to negate even a hint of scandal, any true investigation into the murder was doomed almost from the start. There were already too many scandals in the film industry at that time and they wanted to hide any evidence of yet another.

Mann is a proven researcher and he includes the details he uncovers into a seamless exploration of early Hollywood. This is an abundantly interesting and well researched exploration of a true crime that will appeal to those who like that genre.  Tinseltown will also definitely appeal to anyone who enjoys colorful and factual historical information about early Hollywood and this time of decadence, big scandals, and bigger cover-ups.

Disclosure: My Kindle edition was courtesy of HarperCollins for review purposes.

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