Edmonds, a specialist in Hollywood crime stories (Hot Toddy, 1989), attempts to clear the name of Fatty Arbuckle, America's most popular comedian before being charged with the 1921 murder of starlet Virginia RappÃ‰. According to Edmonds, who could have a second career as a blurb-writer, Arbuckle was ""an innocent clown who died of a broken heart"" and the victim of ""one of the most intricate frame-ups and diabolical conspiracies ever launched in Hollywood."" These histrionics aside, she makes a convincing case on both accounts. The comedian's life, limned in detail, seems one sad tale after another: abused childhood, years of vaudeville scrounging, brief film career darkened by workaholism, alcoholism, and paranoia. At his height, Fatty roped in a million a year as America's highest-paid actor. The crash came when RappÃ‰ died of a burst bladder following a wild bash in San Francisco. Was Arbuckle guilty, as press, prosecutors, and public believed, of rape and murder? Edmonds gives a blow-by-blow reconstruction of the three trials that followed, which resulted in two hung juries, one acquittal, and a dead end to Arbuckle's career. She also presents two new revelations, based on archival research and multiple interviews: that RappÃ‰ died of a preexisting bladder illness, and that Fatty was lynched by a conspiracy that involved bluenose Will Hays, who needed a sacrificial lamb for his sex-is-sin campaign, and vindictive producer Adolph Zukor. Not as gripping as Hot Toddy--Arbuckle's oafish ""innocence"" is no match for Thelma Todd's sizzling sexuality--but, especially with its tacked-on 44-page filmography by Samuel A. Gill, a rewarding read for Fatty fans and Hollywood-crime-hounds alike.