WAS MICHAEL JACKSON MURDERED? YOU BE THE JUDGE

An urgent yet messy accusation of murder in the case of Michael Jackson.

A writer argues that a pop superstar was murdered in this debut work of true crime.

Michael Jackson’s death spawned theories of foul play almost immediately, many of them directed at the singer’s personal physician, Dr. Conrad Murray. Watson contributes his own evidence to the case against Murray, who was convicted of voluntary manslaughter and served two years in prison for improperly administering the drug that killed Jackson. In Watson’s view, Murray actually successfully carried out a premeditated murder of Jackson. Using documents from the court case, Murray’s film on the subject, and the author’s own research, Watson attempts to establish that the doctor’s work for Jackson was essentially a scam from the beginning, one that only got worse the longer that the singer was in his care. The author claims that Murray kept Jackson drugged and confused in order to extract increasingly lucrative contract provisions for himself and then—when the superstar discovered his scheme—elected to end the singer’s life rather than suffer the consequences. Watson’s prose is generally choppy and ungrammatical: “As Dr. Murray’s situation begins to unfold and the situation begins to materialize,” his common-law wife “knows his future is in jeopardy, but also was her’s and her son’s. It was a question of if he would be charged and now it is when would he be charged and what with.” The book seems to be primarily an adaptation of the material from Watson’s film The Murder of Michael Jackson: The Perfect Murder, which he claims he was unable to find distribution for due to the appearance of Murray’s own documentary on the case. The author delivers some intriguing details and thought-provoking contentions. Unfortunately, he offers proof for some of his arguments but not others. For example, he claims several times without explanation that Murray was not a licensed cardiologist. Watson also mentions events and people, like “Dr. Cooper” (the subject of an entire chapter), without properly introducing them. While the author’s theory certainly seems to be within the realm of possible scenarios, it is laid out in such an undisciplined way that readers will be unable to give it as much credence as they might otherwise.

An urgent yet messy accusation of murder in the case of Michael Jackson.

Pub Date: Nov. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4809-5590-5

Page Count: 156

Publisher: Dorrance Publishing Co.

Review Posted Online: April 20, 2020

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KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON

THE OSAGE MURDERS AND THE BIRTH OF THE FBI

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

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Greed, depravity, and serial murder in 1920s Oklahoma.

During that time, enrolled members of the Osage Indian nation were among the wealthiest people per capita in the world. The rich oil fields beneath their reservation brought millions of dollars into the tribe annually, distributed to tribal members holding "headrights" that could not be bought or sold but only inherited. This vast wealth attracted the attention of unscrupulous whites who found ways to divert it to themselves by marrying Osage women or by having Osage declared legally incompetent so the whites could fleece them through the administration of their estates. For some, however, these deceptive tactics were not enough, and a plague of violent death—by shooting, poison, orchestrated automobile accident, and bombing—began to decimate the Osage in what they came to call the "Reign of Terror." Corrupt and incompetent law enforcement and judicial systems ensured that the perpetrators were never found or punished until the young J. Edgar Hoover saw cracking these cases as a means of burnishing the reputation of the newly professionalized FBI. Bestselling New Yorker staff writer Grann (The Devil and Sherlock Holmes: Tales of Murder, Madness, and Obsession, 2010, etc.) follows Special Agent Tom White and his assistants as they track the killers of one extended Osage family through a closed local culture of greed, bigotry, and lies in pursuit of protection for the survivors and justice for the dead. But he doesn't stop there; relying almost entirely on primary and unpublished sources, the author goes on to expose a web of conspiracy and corruption that extended far wider than even the FBI ever suspected. This page-turner surges forward with the pacing of a true-crime thriller, elevated by Grann's crisp and evocative prose and enhanced by dozens of period photographs.

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

Pub Date: April 18, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-385-53424-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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TANQUERAY

A blissfully vicarious, heartfelt glimpse into the life of a Manhattan burlesque dancer.

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A former New York City dancer reflects on her zesty heyday in the 1970s.

Discovered on a Manhattan street in 2020 and introduced on Stanton’s Humans of New York Instagram page, Johnson, then 76, shares her dynamic history as a “fiercely independent” Black burlesque dancer who used the stage name Tanqueray and became a celebrated fixture in midtown adult theaters. “I was the only black girl making white girl money,” she boasts, telling a vibrant story about sex and struggle in a bygone era. Frank and unapologetic, Johnson vividly captures aspects of her former life as a stage seductress shimmying to blues tracks during 18-minute sets or sewing lingerie for plus-sized dancers. Though her work was far from the Broadway shows she dreamed about, it eventually became all about the nightly hustle to simply survive. Her anecdotes are humorous, heartfelt, and supremely captivating, recounted with the passion of a true survivor and the acerbic wit of a weathered, street-wise New Yorker. She shares stories of growing up in an abusive household in Albany in the 1940s, a teenage pregnancy, and prison time for robbery as nonchalantly as she recalls selling rhinestone G-strings to prostitutes to make them sparkle in the headlights of passing cars. Complemented by an array of revealing personal photographs, the narrative alternates between heartfelt nostalgia about the seedier side of Manhattan’s go-go scene and funny quips about her unconventional stage performances. Encounters with a variety of hardworking dancers, drag queens, and pimps, plus an account of the complexities of a first love with a drug-addled hustler, fill out the memoir with personality and candor. With a narrative assist from Stanton, the result is a consistently titillating and often moving story of human struggle as well as an insider glimpse into the days when Times Square was considered the Big Apple’s gloriously unpolished underbelly. The book also includes Yee’s lush watercolor illustrations.

A blissfully vicarious, heartfelt glimpse into the life of a Manhattan burlesque dancer.

Pub Date: July 12, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-27827-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2022

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