I became interested in this story for a few reasons. One is that I love movies. I took film courses in college, wrote a script to attain enough college credits in order to graduate, managed theatres, and reviewed films for a newspaper for over ten years, and now post them on my website, terrynelson.net. Also I enjoy reading about historical and cultural events, and true life unsolved mysteries are fun to research.
I also knew, many years ago when I was in high school, an elderly housekeeper, who I came to find out, was once married to a Hollywood producer during the silent era. She was reluctant to talk about that period of her life, but one day she opened up, telling why she didn't like talking about those days, then softened a little, mentioning people she knew, and the kind of parties that went on. I don't recall her ever talking about it again. I did, however, gain some knowledge about the time and place which I tried to incorporate into the story.
Without revealing too much-this is a mystery after all-my ending is different than might be expected. The challenge was placing the killer at the scene using the facts of the case, not altering them in anyway for the sake of convenience. Using the events of that night, including a possible eye witness, is a challenge for anyone to place any killer, save one at the scene. I do believe that knowing of incidents leading to the murder, as well as studying the people involved, that this is a very likely scenario. But of course there could be others, but I chose this character as the killer, not only because of the likelyhood, but also because of the literary and dramatic effect to end the story.
Being a movie fan, the unsolved murder of silent film director William Desmond Taylor in 1922 has always fascinated not only me, but many others. And who doesn't like solving a mystery? More than three non-fiction books have researched the murder; all arriving at a different killer. There have been documentaries made. Even a graphic novel. There are plenty of suspects, including two leading actresses. There is possible police corruption and a cover-up, evidence that goes missing, and a key suspect that disappears and is never heard from or seen again. The murder captivated the country during a period when the Fatty Arbuckle case was going on and many civic groups were calling for banning movies in their cities. Hollywood was in a panic. And newspapers and magazines creating lurid and sensatonal stories did not help.
In my fictionalized account, Chester Koski, a writer for Famous-Players Lasky, is told by a studio executive to find out what happened at the bungalow of murdered silent film director William Desmond Taylor.
Chet and his wife Eveleen, who appeared in my novel "Loonies in the Dugout," are aided by a police detective who apprises Chet of the investigation, and by a 22-year old wealthy flapper, a friend of Eveleen. Things get complicated for Chet when someone steals his new radio and then is accused of murdering Gawen Wainright, a drug addicted actor friend of Eveleen.
There are many suspects: Actress Mabel Normand who was the last to see Taylor alive; Mary Miles Minter, a young actress enamored of Taylor; Minter’s overprotective mother Charlotte Shelby; Tom Dixon, wealthy pencil heir and jealous suitor of Minter; Patricia Palmer, an actress involved in shady activities; and Edward Sands, Taylor’s former valet and known thief who has disappeared.