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

WAS MICHAEL JACKSON MURDERED? YOU BE THE JUDGE

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 21, 2020

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

TANQUERAY

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 28, 2022

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A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.

A WEALTH OF PIGEONS

A CARTOON COLLECTION

The veteran actor, comedian, and banjo player teams up with the acclaimed illustrator to create a unique book of cartoons that communicates their personalities.

Martin, also a prolific author, has always been intrigued by the cartoons strewn throughout the pages of the New Yorker. So when he was presented with the opportunity to work with Bliss, who has been a staff cartoonist at the magazine since 1997, he seized the moment. “The idea of a one-panel image with or without a caption mystified me,” he writes. “I felt like, yeah, sometimes I’m funny, but there are these other weird freaks who are actually funny.” Once the duo agreed to work together, they established their creative process, which consisted of working forward and backward: “Forwards was me conceiving of several cartoon images and captions, and Harry would select his favorites; backwards was Harry sending me sketched or fully drawn cartoons for dialogue or banners.” Sometimes, he writes, “the perfect joke occurs two seconds before deadline.” There are several cartoons depicting this method, including a humorous multipanel piece highlighting their first meeting called “They Meet,” in which Martin thinks to himself, “He’ll never be able to translate my delicate and finely honed droll notions.” In the next panel, Bliss thinks, “I’m sure he won’t understand that the comic art form is way more subtle than his blunt-force humor.” The team collaborated for a year and created 150 cartoons featuring an array of topics, “from dogs and cats to outer space and art museums.” A witty creation of a bovine family sitting down to a gourmet meal and one of Dumbo getting his comeuppance highlight the duo’s comedic talent. What also makes this project successful is the team’s keen understanding of human behavior as viewed through their unconventional comedic minds.

A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-26289-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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