A Deed of Death

Robert Giroux, Author Knopf Publishing Group $19.95 (275p) ISBN 978-0-394-58075-3
Well-born but disinherited Anglo-Irish actor and one-time Yukon prospector, William Desmond Taylor was a prominent Paramount movie director at the time of his unsolved murder in 1922. Suspects included his secretary Edward Sands, a thief and forger; Henry Peavey, his homosexual black cook; and two flamboyant screen stars: drug-addicted Mabel Normand, whom he loved; and 20-year-old Mary Miles Minter, who yearned to be his mistress. In a meticulous probe that reads like a detective thriller, editor-publisher Giroux ( The Book Known as Q ) makes a strong case that the murderer was a contract killer. He shows that Normand had incurred the wrath of dope peddlers, as did Taylor when he attempted to help her break her addiction. Brimming with details of Hollywood's silent era and its rampant post-WW I drug culture, this procedural offers glimpses of Mary Pickford, Charlie Chaplin, Sam Goldwyn, Mack Sennett, Fatty Arbuckle. Illustrations. (June)
Reviewed on: 05/01/1990
Release date: 05/01/1990
Genre: Nonfiction
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