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Tinseltown: Murder, Morphine, and Madness at the Dawn of Hollywood Hardcover – October 14, 2014

4.2 out of 5 stars 560 ratings

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Hardcover, October 14, 2014
$49.44 $6.05

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Editorial Reviews


“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.” (Washington Post)

“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.” (Entertainment Weekly)

“Mann’s got the goods . . . Tinseltown may well be the most completist murder mystery of all time.” (Choire Sicha, BookForum)

“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.” (Rex Reed)

“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.” (Patrick McGilligan, author of Alfred Hitchcock: A Life in Darkness and Light)

“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.” (Liz Smith)

“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.” (Publishers Weekly (starred review))

“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.” (Out Magazine)

“The book’s power derives not just from piecing together the clues and analyzing motives; Los Angeles is very present as well.” (Publishers Weekly)

“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.” (Kirkus Reviews (starred review))

From the Back Cover

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.

Product details

  • Item Weight : 1.66 pounds
  • Hardcover : 480 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 0062242164
  • ISBN-13 : 978-0062242167
  • Product Dimensions : 1.7 x 6.2 x 9.1 inches
  • Publisher : Harper; First Ed Edition (October 14, 2014)
  • Language: : English
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.2 out of 5 stars 560 ratings