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The Empty Glass Hardcover – July 19, 2012
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Praise for THE EMPTY GLASS by J. I. Baker:
“The Empty Glass comes rampaging out of the gate and keeps on roaring and roistering until the sad, salutary shock of its final pages. After I started, the vivid writing and the presence of the unhappy latter-day Marilyn Monroe kept me reading all the way to the end. I want to tell everyone within the sound of my voice to buy this splendid novel. It's really punchy and really good, and you really should read it.”
—Peter Straub, award-winning author of In The Night Room
“J.I. Baker takes a bold run into Cain and DeLillo territory and scores. The Empty Glass is chilled and redolent of a good gin martini, leaving you primed to order another.”
—Barry Gifford, author of Wild at Heart
“Stylishly written and perfectly paced, The Empty Glass is noir fiction re-imagined for the modern era, a novel that is sharp, smart and breathlessly fast-paced, yet somehow manages to convey the slow burn of an old regret. As such, it marks the auspicious debut of a new voice in American suspense.”
—Thomas H. Cook, Edgar Award-winning author of Taken
“[In The Empty Glass] Baker conjures a suitably paranoid atmosphere and crackling dialogue in this look at the seedy intersection of celebrity, politics, and power.”
“The Empty Glass is riveting, brilliant, and endlessly fascinating. Writing from a wholly original perspective, J.I. Baker has combined the history and myth surrounding one of the most intriguing deaths of last century and created a shocking, unputdownable thriller. ”
—Jason Starr, author of The Craving
“J. I. Baker has spun a gripping and pulse-pounding conspiracy. Smart, perfectly atmospheric, and ultimately heartbreaking, The Empty Glass is one not to miss. It will stay with you long after the final page.”
—Andrew Gross, author of 15 Seconds and co-author of six #1 NYT bestsellers with James Patterson
“[An] imaginative 1960s yarn.”
“Marilyn Monroe is dead...by suicide. So why does all the evidence suggest that she was murdered? Los Angeles County deputy coroner Ben Fitzgerald’s relentless search for answers leads him down a dangerous path away from his sanity—and [he] takes readers along with him....a totally credible imagining of [Monroe’s] uncensored speech: breathy, sparingly punctuated and a little bit lost.... but Baker is totally in control, and watching him lead his hero along a precarious tightrope of reason is scary—and totally exhilarating.”
—Nathalie Gorman, Oprah.com
“It's LA CONFIDENTIAL meets the Bio channel with a little TMZ thrown in for fun.”
“Baker imagines Marilyn Monroe’s death through the eyes of the coroner. Mixing fact and theory, this taut thriller explores conspiracies around her as well as the official’s own psychological turmoil.”
“James Ellroy fans will relish Baker’s impressive first novel, a dark paranoid thriller … barbed prose makes a familiar story fresh. Fluent in the noir idiom, Baker maintains the depressing atmospherics throughout.”
—Publishers Weekly, STARRED review
About the Author
J. I. Baker is the executive editor of Conde Nast Traveler, and a former development editor at Time Inc. He has also worked at Real Simple, Glamour, and US Weekly and is a founding editor of Time Out New York. This is his first novel.
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We then move to the events of August 5, 1962, when Marilyn Monroe was found dead in her sparsely decorated adobe home. She was lying face down, clutching a phone.
In the following pages, we discover that there are time discrepancies; there are concerns about the position of the body and the unlikelihood that someone taking an overdose would be clutching a phone. There is an empty glass that is there...and then not there. A mysterious red diary appears...and then disappears.
Deputy Coroner Ben Fitzgerald is the primary narrator who is frustrated by the apparent cover-up. He is determined to find the answers.
But will his life be at risk as he struggles to learn the truth? Who are the enemies? The Mafia or others unknown? What do the police and even his boss at the Coroner's office have to hide, and why are they fighting his investigation? What lies and deceptions will trouble him in the days ahead?
From the recovered diary and mysterious tapes, our narrator eventually learns some of what transpired, but will it be too late? And how can he protect his young son?
The Empty Glass was a captivating mix of fact and fiction that left me with more questions than answers. Told in an unusual narrative style that jumped around from the present to the past and then ahead to the future, I had a hard time making sense of it at times. 3.5 stars.
That being said, the book was somewhat bizarre. Some of the story is told by Ben in his testimony to some sort of "Doctor" (I assume a shrink, but you never find out for sure), while some is told in real time. This structure makes the story very hard to follow and also allows for too much focus on Ben's personal struggle...I wish Baker had stuck to the controversy surrounding MM's death and the Kennedy's, the Mafia, and the CIA.
From the sections of Ben with the "Doctor", I got the impression that Ben sunk into some kind of paranoia and maybe the reader was supposed to question his version of events, but this is never explicitly stated and I'm still confused about this. Whatever Baker's intention, I did not think this ambiguity added to the story and was one of the major reasons I disliked the book.
Despite having the potential to be an interesting read, The Empty Glass sadly veered off into la-la land, leaving me a bit perplexed at the end.
For more reviews, check out my blog, Sarah's Book Shelves.
But I wasn't happy with the way it was written. Many books go between past and present, but this book did
not have a good flow to it. I wanted more facts into the death of Marilyn Monroe and I presume that will be one of those political secrets that the public never gets resolved.