To mark the 50th anniversary of the death of Marilyn Monroe, this past week I read one fiction and one non-fiction work dealing with the subject matter. This death has puzzled and fascinated the American public for five decades now, and it's doubtful whether we will ever have all the answers. However, I was most satisfied with the Jay Margolis non-fiction read, which answered many of my own questions. I'm including reviews for the Margolis book, entitled Marilyn Monroe: A Case for Murder and the fiction book, too, which is entitled The Empty Glass by J.I. Baker.
Marilyn Monroe: A Case for Murder by Jay Margolis
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
There are so many books about Marilyn Monroe and Marilyn Monroe's death that it can make you dizzy trying to decide which one to read. Not only are there serious researchers who have dissected and examined Marilyn's life and death, but anyone who remotely knew her has written a book, too. So, why did I read Jay Margolis' book? First off, it was recent, published in 2011, which appealed to me in the far from the heat of the moment publications. Secondly, Margolis researched the subject for five years, a respectable amount of time to sift through the facts and fiction. Last of all, the presentation of the information or format of the book suited my reading style, especially with non-fiction. Information is presented in short bursts, pertinent to detailed subject headings. There is a concise, clear timeline of Marilyn's last day and her death. Also included is an extensive bibliography and intricate footnotes. Jay Margolis puts forth the facts in a fully readable fashion, and they fall in place into a most probable case for murder indeed. The inconsistencies and lies, of which there were many, are examined and explained. Who had what to gain and what to lose is pulled loose from the quagmire, and the tragic truth rises to the top of the pile. Marilyn Monroe was a casualty in the careers of the politically powerful, a sustainable loss in the bid to be great. A talented and beautiful actress, she could not save herself from a fate into which she dangerously wandered.
The Empty Glass by J.I. Baker
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This novel is in the format of a noir film and told from the perspective of Deputy Coroner Ben Fitzgerald, who quickly surmises that the facts just aren't adding up to the story being put out to the public about Marilyn Monroe's death. One of the first on the scene when the death is reported, Ben observes that there is no water in the room with which pills could have been taken and that Marilyn's body appears to have been moved. The scene had not yet been staged to reflect the public story. When the coroner's report shows no trace of pills or residue in Marilyn's stomach, Ben's suspicions cannot be contained within his delegated role. The story that Ben is telling is being told to a "doctor," but the reader doesn't know who this doctor is until the end of the story. With the suspense and danger of Ben's discoveries and the uncertain setting of his summary of this events leads to a highly engaging read where fiction does reveal much truth.