Tinseltown : Murder, Morphine, and Madness at the Dawn of Hollywood
Author(s): William J. Mann
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.
“Mann tells his story expertly . . . When it’s all over, Mann has argued so ably for his killer-candidate that he finally may have put this controversy to rest.”
“Mann’s call sheet of colorful characters is so richly painted, they not only make the Roaring ‘20s come to life, they’re so bizarre they seem like they could only exist in a movie.”
“Mann’s got the goods . . . Tinseltown may well be the most completist murder mystery of all time.”
“Sex! Drama! Scandal! If you have the slightest curiosity about the dark purple scars of Hollywood history, this is the go-to book you cannot miss. . . Epic and fabulous—every page is haunting, every chapter a film noir. I was up all night.”
“William Mann fires on all cylinders in this fascinating real-life crime story that has stumped film fans since 1922. A page-turner with incredible research and prose double-boiled, Tinseltown is a whodunit tour de force, revealing the dark heart of Hollywood.”
“Massive, exhaustively researched, endlessly fascinating . . . It’s a gripping ride with innumerable twists and turns and scenarios . . . If you love a good mystery and vintage Hollywood lore—which doesn’t read much differently than current Hollywood lore—I recommend Tinseltown without reservation.”
“A stellar and gripping true-crime narrative . . . An engrossing and comprehensive look at the birth of the motion picture industry and the highs and lows it faced in the early 1920s . . . Mann has crafted what is likely to be a true-crime classic.”
“Mann spins this yarn with all the suspense and intrigue of a Dashiell Hammett novel. From beginning to end, the engrossing true tale will keep you guessing.”
“The book’s power derives not just from piecing together the clues and analyzing motives; Los Angeles is very present as well.”
“A gripping true-crime story that encompasses a colorful period in film history . . . Mann seamlessly weaves the details of the murder investigation, witnesses and newspaper accounts into the rich history of early film . . . Mann masterfully captures the zeitgeist of Hollywood in its early days.”