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Tinseltown: Murder, Morphine, and Madness at the Dawn of Hollywood Audiobook, by William J. Mann Extended Sample Click for printable size audiobook cover
Author: William J. Mann Narrator: Christopher Lane Publisher: Blackstone Publishing Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: October 2014 ISBN: 9781483024158
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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 account 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 ascendancy 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 uncover the story of the enigmatic Taylor and the diverse group of people who 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 Pictures, 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.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “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, film critic

  • “Many readers will come away from this stellar and gripping true-crime narrative utterly convinced by Mann’s solution to the unsolved 1922 gunshot murder of William Desmond Taylor, president of the Motion Pictures Directors Association…With a gift for evocative phrasing (one figure is described as having a face like a ‘living mug shot’), Mann has crafted what is likely to be a true-crime classic.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • “While searching for a solution to the sensational crime, Mann masterfully captures the zeitgeist of Hollywood in its early days.”

    Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

  • “Gripping…Mann expertly juggles the various threads of the narrative to a satisfying conclusion that is sure to please both true-crime and film-history enthusiasts.”


  • “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, an Edgar Award finalist

  • An Amazon Best Book of the Month, October 2014
  • A Publishers Weekly Pick of the Week, October 2014
  • A New York Times bestseller
  • Winner of the 2015 Edgar Allan Poe Award for Best Fact Crime

Listener Reviews

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  • 4.333333 out of 54.333333 out of 54.333333 out of 54.333333 out of 54.333333 out of 5 Ken | 10/29/2017

    " This is an era I don't normally read about but glad I did. The author has researched his subject so well you are almost included in conversations that probably occurred. You are led into their lives to know them whilst trying hard to solve the whodunnit. The narration was perfect and seemed to authenticate the writing style. I am sure the author would agree. Well recommended. "

About the Author

William J. Mann is the bestselling author of Kate: The Woman Who Was Hepburn; How to Be a Movie Star: Elizabeth Taylor in Hollywood; Hello, Gorgeous: Becoming Barbra Streisand; and Wisecracker: The Life and Times of William Haines. He divides his time between New York and Provincetown, Massachusetts.

About the Narrator

Christopher Lane is an award-winning actor, director, and narrator. He has been awarded the prestigious Audie Award for Best Narration several times and has won numerous AudioFile Earphones Awards.