The Reporter Who Knew Too Much: The Mysterious Death of What’s My Line TV Star and Media Icon Dorothy Kilgallen by Mark Shaw

Publication Date: December 6, 2016:

On November 8, 1965, 52-year-old investigative reporter and television personality, Dorothy Kilgallen, is found dead of an apparent overdose in her New York City home. Her files are missing and the air conditioning is running. She has been investing the Kennedy assassination and has told people she is poised to crack it wide open. Was she the reporter who knew too much?

 

 

Before he started investigating the Jack Ruby trial, Mark Shaw remembered Dorothy Kilgallen as a panelist on the syndicated CBS game show, “What’s my Line.” Digging into the records, Kilgallen’s name kept coming up and her interest and dedication to cracking the case sparked Shaw’s interest in the enigmatic and talented reporter and her mysterious death. Research for The Reporter Who Knew Too Much: The Mysterious Death of What’s My Line TV Star and Media Icon Dorothy Kilgallen took Shaw 12 years and justice for Kilgallen has become his calling.

Shaw lays out the facts of the scene for readers so that it takes little persuasion to convince readers that something was off. Kilgallen was found by her hairdresser in a room she didn’t typically sleep in with the air conditioner running on a cold November night in New York. The drink next to the bed was outside of the victims reach and the book next to her was laid in a way one wouldn’t naturally rest a book they were reading. Kilgallen was dressed in a peignoir with full makeup and wig, which was not her habit. Most peculiarly, all of her files related to the Kennedy case were missing and they were known to be copious. The glass next to the bed was found to contain a drug that was also found in the victims system, as Shaw discovered when he finally was able to locate the coroner report. Things clearly don’t line up and the reader can see that from the off which makes the mystery a compelling deep dive for the reader.

Shaw doesn’t limit the possibility to Kilgallen knowing too much, he offers a number of suspects for the reader to explore. Kilgallen was a daring and dedicated investigative reporter who Ernest Hemingway called one of the best female writers in the world. She was also a woman with nuance and Shaw doesn’t shy away from her flaws. Kilgallen was a woman who loved men and prior to her passing the married reporter had an ongoing affair with a reporter from the Midwest who was many years her junior. She had enemies and Frank Sinatra notably loathed her allegedly because she was not shy when it came to talking and writing about his mob connections. Perhaps a most interesting alternative suspect is the reporter’s husband, actor and Broadway Producer, Richard Kollmar. Shaw reached out to the couples children when researching his work and they were understandably reluctant to speak with him.

Shaw has lived Dorothy Kilgallen and the passion for the case shows clearly in The Reporter Who Knew Too Much: The Mysterious Death of What’s My Line TV Star and Media Icon Dorothy Kilgallen. One of the chief criticisms in reviews on Amazon cite the author’s need to edit. Admittedly, Shaw does go on. For him, this work is clearly more than a book and with publication his quest has turned to education of the public for the goal of achieving some sort of closure to the case. Shaw turned over the evidence he’d turned up to the NYPD hoping that they would reopen the case. An officer was assigned and Shaw was hopeful until they abruptly closed the case. Shaw has also been on a quest to bring to light things he feels has been covered up about the Kennedy assassination and that Kilgallen, had she lived long enough, would likely have exposed.

I found The Reporter Who Knew Too Much: The Mysterious Death of What’s My Line TV Star and Media Icon Dorothy Kilgallen absolutely fascinating. I read Kilgallen by Lee Israel many years ago and have always been interested in the reporters life and mysterious death. Shaw’s research is through and his points well presented. He doesn’t claim to know exactly what happens but leaves reasonable doubt for the reader based in fact rather than gossip, and there’s a lot of gossip out there. The case of Kilgallen’s research and death is a case of truth being stranger than fiction. Shaw went to great lengths to interview people who were afraid to talk for many years as well as digging up documents that had long been buried. He tells us what he knows for sure and then leaves it to the reader to decide what they believe.

As a partner to reading The Reporter Who Knew Too Much: The Mysterious Death of What’s My Line TV Star and Media Icon Dorothy Kilgallen, be sure to check out Mark Shaw’s talk about the work at the Allen, Texas Library (click here to view the Youtube video). It’s a lengthy video but well worth the watch. Was Dorothy Kilgallen the reporter who knew too much or did one of her many other adversaries decide it was time to be done?

 

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The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde

Publication Date: May 1, 2009

Its 1985 and the fictional world is parallel to our own and someone is kidnapping literary characters. Its the job of Thursday Next, occupant of our world but detective in the Literary Detective Division, to find the culprit and stop them before its too late.

 

 

Every book claims to be like the work of a better selling author. They’ll up the ante saying that the work is by a author who is the modern version of the author to whom they’re likened. Usually they could not be less like the author whose name they use to promote themselves. In the case of Fforde, it would be in no way inaccurate to liken him to Douglas Adams. It would also not be inaccurate to say that they are nothing alike. Fforde and Adams share a well defined imagination with a lightness of being. Their worlds are intricate. Fforde is clearly extremely well read. The characters created by others in his story are wholly within character. The description of the fictional world is beautiful and complete.

Thursday Next is a complex character. The Eyre Affair is part time travel and part fantasy. History is rewritten, extinct species are not as extinct as one might think (Thursday has a pet Dodo). Her father can slow time and has been hunted by the Chrono Guard. There is simply too much to outline when it comes to this wonderful character. In the book world, characters play role. Jane Eyre is married to a fictional character not from her own book. There is an incredibly intricate bureaucracy in both the real world and book world and a delicate ecosystem in both. There are bookworms that eat prepositions and poop punctuation. Yes, it’s just crazy, but it works so beautifully well.

The Eyre Affair is a dance. There is chaos and just when you think there could be no resolution to anything it all comes together and things fall into place. Fforde gives a master class in creativity. His world is stunning. Kids trade cards of authors instead of baseball players and whole religions grow up around favorite works of fiction.  Perhaps the “He who shall not be named” bad guy is a little weak but in the end it makes sense. The Eyre Affair is exciting and poignant and there’s a hint of romance but not so much that it distracts from the master world building.

Despite his weak entrance, Archeron Hades is a brilliant bad guy. He is a sophisticated Snidley Whiplash, twirling his mustache and doing bad simply for the joy of the evil act and the satisfaction of a well crafted and executed plan. It;s not just a job for Hades, it’s a calling and he’s determined. Hades is not the only bad guy by a long shot. The Goliath Corporation may not be as innocent as they seem and just might complicate life more than people might like.

Ultimately, Thursday is a Mary Sue for those of us who love books. She travels through storylines and keeps the peace for favorite characters. Who wouldn’t want that job? The Eyre Affair is my Unicorn. It is the perfect book in that its so different than anything you’ll ever pick up that it is like discovered Adams and Pratchett again.

If you like quirky fiction, The Eyre Affair is 100% for you. Pick it up. There are no regrets.

 

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The True Face of Sir Isaac Brock by Guy St. Denis

Book Launch

On February 24, 2019, at 2 p.m., author and historian Guy St. Denis launched his latest book, The True Face of Sir Isaac Brock. The fully reserved event was held in the lovely Interpretive Centre of the Duff-Baby House located at 221 Mill Street in Windsor, Ontario.

 

 

Duff-Baby House, 221 Mill Street Windsor, Ontario

Windsor, Ontario may seem an odd place to launch a book about Sir Isaac Brock, but the author felt the General’s connection to the area, and especially to the place St. Denis chose for the launch, was strong. The Duff-Baby House is thought to be the oldest building in Upper Canada and the author believes that given the historic home’s strong military connection, especially to the War of 1812, that Sir Isaac Brock visited at least twice.

The first visit likely took place in 1810 and the second in 1812. Though St. Denis did not locate a definitive primary source that would validate the hunch, his expert opinion of the stature of the visiting military official that his visiting a home, so important in military history would have been a given.

 

St. Denis holding a confirmed picture of Sir Isaac Brock painted when the future military hero was 15 or 16 years old.

St. Denis has spent a decade wading through the hosts of portraits painted after the death of Brock at the Battle Queenston on October 13, 1812. A military hero, artists and, historians after the death of Brock would accept the image of the hero. St. Denis, a lively and entertaining speaker, regaled the packed house with the story of his search for a true image. The cover image of The True Face of Isaac Brock, while perhaps the well-known image of Brock is not actually a picture of the late General. The young, handsome, noble image is actually that of Lieutenant George Dunn. While St. Denis insisted to his publisher that no one should pretend the cover photo is actually Brock, it’s really the point of his research, isn’t it? A librarian way back when saw the image of the young and handsome Dunn and thought, “That’s what Brock should look like” and suddenly he gets a historic makeover. Why the portrait is cut off is a mystery to the author but makes for a book that will catch the eye of any history buff walking by a bookstore shelf.

St. Denis spoke for around 40 minutes about his book and future projects and he was such an engaging speaker that time flew. The question period following was brief but imbued with laughter as one savvy attendee asked if Brock would be “someone he would like.” St. Denis, who is also writing a biography of Brock, shed some light on what he considered the General’s “humanity,” and while he wasn’t initially a fan of the Six Nations, believed that opinion changed when the General met Tecumseh for whom he had great respect. A statue of the pair stands at a newly constructed roundabout leading from the east to Olde Sandwich Towne, the oldest area of Windsor.  Les Amis Duff Baby provided coffee and baked treats including a lovely cake featuring an image of the book’s cover. If only I’d been able to get a picture. I purchased a book which the author signed and must say, I can’t wait to start reading. The author’s next project is a study of the court-martial of General Henry Procter.

Les Amis Duff Baby hosted a lovely and well-organized event. To join them in their quest to preserve and educate, visit them on their Facebook page and send a message to the administration. Guy St. Denis is pursuing a Ph.D. in history at the University of Western Ontario. You can connect with him on Goodreads.

Author and Historian Guy St. Denis

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Hell’s Princess: The Mystery of Belle Gunness by Harold Schechter

Publication Date: March 1, 2018

In Hell’s Princess: The Mystery of Belle Gunness by Harold Schechter, Belle Gunness was a serial killer who operated between 1884 and 1908. She killed at least 14 people (including her own adopted daughter) but possibly as many as 40. Detected in 1908, she apparently died in a house fire with her remaining three adopted children, and though a man went to trial for the arson and murder, not everyone was convinced.

Let me say right from the start, Hell’s Princess: The Mystery of Belle Gunness is one of the most compelling books I’ve read in a long time. Not a generally well-known serial killer today, Belle Gunness was a Norwegian-American who operated out of La Porte, Indiana. Her victims appear to have been exclusively her fellow Norwegian immigrants. She’d advertised in the Norwegian papers located in Chicago for a handyman and then would operate a love scam quite a lot like we see today online. Continue reading Hell’s Princess: The Mystery of Belle Gunness by Harold Schechter

No Way to Treat a Lady by William Goldman

Noted novelist and screenwriter, William Goldman, died today at the age of 87. Goldman’s first original screenplay was Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1967) which he followed with some of his well-known scripts that include The Princess Bride (1973) and Marathon Man (1974), which were originally novels. One of my favorite Goldman novels is No Way to Treat a Lady (1964), so I’ve chosen that work to share with you. If this novel doesn’t appeal to you, look into this very diverse author’s body of work. There is something out there perfectly suited for your tastes.

Publication Date: 1964

 

No Way to Treat a Lady by William GoldmanNo Way to Treat a Lady was originally published under the name Harry Longbaugh and written over a two week period, No Way to Treat a Lady imagines that there were two Boston Stranglers who were aware and deeply jealous of each other and follows the investigation to track them down.

Continue reading No Way to Treat a Lady by William Goldman

Brett Enters the Square Circle by David D’Aguanno (author) and Henry Travis Carter (narrator)

Publication Date: April 12, 2018

 

Stacey Ashton has disappeared. While Melanie Foster thinks she may have run off with Melanie’s husband. It soon becomes clear that there’s a good chance that she was murdered. But by who? Can suave, handsome, best-butt-in-the-nation, man-for-the-ages Brett Cornell solve the case Brett Enters the Golden Circle is the fifth book in the Brett Cornell series.

 

 

Continue reading Brett Enters the Square Circle by David D’Aguanno (author) and Henry Travis Carter (narrator)

Wedding Bells for Brett by David D’Aguanno

Publication Date: March 15, 2018

 

Wedding Bells for Brett by David D'AguannoIn Wedding Bells for Brett by David D’Aguanno, Brett Cornell, a heartthrob for the 1980s, once again finds himself in hot water. A young woman that Brett married as a proxy of sorts is found dead in a hotel room under suspicious circumstances. Can Brett solve the case and dodge the sentence for which he seems destined. Wedding Bells for Brett is the fourth book in the Brett Cornell series. Continue reading Wedding Bells for Brett by David D’Aguanno

The Earth Bleeds Red by Jackson Baer, narrated by Dan Carroll

Publication Date: January 29, 2018

 

In The Earth Bleeds Red by Jackson Baer, Scott Miller’s daughter, Ashley, is kidnapped and presumed dead. Her boyfriend is the only witness and is, to the police, the obvious suspect until three other missing girls are found dead bearing the mark of a serial killer known to the FBI. With the clock ticking on Ashley’s life, will she be found in time?

 

 

 

 

Continue reading The Earth Bleeds Red by Jackson Baer, narrated by Dan Carroll

Brett Aerobicizes (Brett Cornell Mysteries) by David D’Aguanno

Publication Date: February 6, 2012 (Audible version was released on December 12, 2017)

 

Brett Aerobicizes (Brett Cornell Mysteries) by David D'AguannoIn Brett Aerobicizes (Brett Cornell Mysteries) by David D’Aguanno, private investigator Brett Cornell is back and once again on the hot seat. A man with whom he had a very public punch-up is found dead and the bullet that killed him came from Brett’s gun. Can he find out who is setting him up before he’s locked up for good? Brett Aerobicizes is the second book in the Brett Cornell series.

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Poolside with Brett by David D’Aguanno

Release Date: October 30, 2017

 

Poolside with Brett by David D'AguannoIn Poolside with Brett by David D’Aguanno, it’s the 1980s in New Jersey, the age of excess. Big hair, hard drugs and lots of sex and one man who is acing the era is Private Investigator, Brett Cornell. He’s winning big and has attracted the attention of an exotic beauty who wants to feature him in one of her adult films and a wealthy woman has hired him to find her husband. Seems like life is going well until Brett finds the missing husband in the trunk of his car. Is someone trying to set him up? Brett must solve the case to get back to his charmed life. Poolside with Brett is the first book in the Brett Cornell series.    Continue reading Poolside with Brett by David D’Aguanno