“Murder in Hollywood”–what a mess

Higham, Charles., “Murder in Hollywood: Solving a Silent Screen Mystery”. Terrace Books, The University of Wisconsin Press, 2006.


Amos Lassen

Readers love “whodunits” and here is one form the University of Wisconsin press. The unsolved murder of William Desmond Taylor has been an enigma for years. Taylor’s life was as strange and mysterious as was his death. Ruled a homicide in the 1920s, there are so many bizarre and controversial characters running in and out of Taylor’s life that the case has really never been closed. He evidence is disputed and puzzling and Higham, although he tries very hard leaves us just as mystified as when we began the book. There is a lot of detail that is totally irrelevant and irreverent (but fun). Worse than all else are the number of typos in the manuscript. (It kind of resembled my writing). His conclusions are contradictory and I have to question why, with the access to new files that became available, does this book not definitively close the case. If it were not for the gossipy writing style and the telling of secrets, I would not have bothered to finish the book—I kept hoping that all was going to be resolved.

Most of you know or have at least been able to tell by now that I generally do not write bad reviews nor do I pan a book. I wouldn’t do that here if I had not had such great expectations. Everything seemed so right—the thesis, the story, the colorful characters and the topic but it just never went anywhere. There is so much more that I want to know and if nothing else, this book is going to force me into doing my own research Everyone loves a good mystery and when it is coupled with the lives of the people we know about, the prospect of a good read is doubled. Unfortunately the book became more of a mystery than the mystery itself. Sorry to have been disappointed and to have disappointed my readers.

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