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Treasury of Xxth Century Murder: Famous Players, the Mysterious Death of William Desmond Taylor by Rick Geary
Cover Artist: Rick Geary
Review by Gayle Surrette
NBM Publishing, Inc. Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9781561635559
Date: 01 August 2009 List Price $15.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: NBM's Website / Show Official Info /

Rick Geary has done it again. This time it's Famous Players: The Mysterious Death of William Desmond Taylor, part of A Treasury of XXth Century Murder. I greatly enjoyed the installments of A Treasury of Victorian Murder and found this volume to be informative and objective and based on meticulous research of the murder and historical era in which it occurred. The illustrations make the period, the setting, and the crime come alive.

Starting off there's a bibliography of the sources used for the book, a 1922 map of Los Angeles and vicinity, a 1922 map of Los Angeles and the Hollywood District, and a map of the immediate area of 400-414 Alvarado Street in Los Angeles where the murder occurred. This is followed by a short overview of the film industry in Hollywood/Los Angeles at the time of the murder.

One of the great things that Geary does in text and illustration is set the mood and the place. Though I'm not a great film buff, but I do watch a lot of old movies and the commentaries on them. Much of what was presented on the early days and the people involved helped bring back memories of what I'd learned over time.

Then there's the details of the last day of William Desmond Taylor's life and the finding of the body. But the case is muddled by all the people who entered the house prior to the arrival of the police and material that was removed while the police were examining the crime scene. However, once the police began to dig into the case, it seems that William Desmond Taylor had a history of his own. All was not as it seemed as is so often the case. While the case was re-opened and suspects re-interviewed over the years, the case has never been solved.

So, get the book and read the story. Examine the maps and the players. Check out the bibliographic sources. It's a cold case so you can use your own investigative skills and reach your own conclusions, because it's unlikely that we'll every really know who murdered William Desmond Taylor.

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