The Darkest Glare: A True Story of Murder, Blackmail, and Real Estate Greed in 1979 Los Angeles
This entertaining if uneven true crime narrative from Jacobs (Strange as It Seems: The Impossible Life of Gordon Zahler
) spotlights two ambitious L.A. real estate developers in the late 1970s: Richard Kasparov, a glib, charismatic pitchman, and his partner Jerry Schneiderman, a nerdy but gifted designer. The pair hired rough-edged Howard Garrett as their construction supervisor. Kasparov turned out to be a bipolar thief who almost gutted the firm, earning Schneiderman’s distrust and rousing Garrett’s obsessive hatred. What follows is both horrifying and hilarious, as Garrett tries to organize an assassination-for-hire team by recruiting hapless drug addicts who couldn't find the right time or place to kill Kasparov. Eventually, they succeeded, and Garrett was charged with murder. Less successful is the author’s recounting of Garrett’s trial for Kasparov’s killing. Jacobs later shows how Garrett’s pathological intimidation reshaped the lives of Schneiderman and other survivors, but he piles on too much incidental information he gleaned during years of Schneiderman’s acquaintance and can’t resist the impulse to add sour observations on Americans’ hunger for possessions. Though undoubtedly odd and often unfocused, this still manages to fascinate. (Mar.)
Correction: An earlier version of this review mischaracterized in one instance the nature of the relationship between Richard Kasparov, Jerry Schneiderman, and Howard Garrett.