Tinseltown: Murder, Morphine, and Madness at the Dawn of Hollywood

Unabridged Audiobook

Written By: William J. Mann

Narrated By: Christopher Lane

Publisher: Blackstone Audiobooks

Date: October 2014

Duration: 15 hours 59 minutes


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.

“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)


  • Suzi Motooka

    Horrible book. Waste of money boring and extremely repetitive sorry I wasted my money

  • Elizabeth Collins

    Long and repetitive, but at least well-researched. This book could have really used an editor.

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Tinseltown: Murder, Morphine, and Madness at the Dawn of Hollywood, William J. Mann