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 conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

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GREENLIGHTS

All right, all right, all right: The affable, laconic actor delivers a combination of memoir and self-help book.

“This is an approach book,” writes McConaughey, adding that it contains “philosophies that can be objectively understood, and if you choose, subjectively adopted, by either changing your reality, or changing how you see it. This is a playbook, based on adventures in my life.” Some of those philosophies come in the form of apothegms: “When you can design your own weather, blow in the breeze”; “Simplify, focus, conserve to liberate.” Others come in the form of sometimes rambling stories that never take the shortest route from point A to point B, as when he recounts a dream-spurred, challenging visit to the Malian musician Ali Farka Touré, who offered a significant lesson in how disagreement can be expressed politely and without rancor. Fans of McConaughey will enjoy his memories—which line up squarely with other accounts in Melissa Maerz’s recent oral history, Alright, Alright, Alright—of his debut in Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused, to which he contributed not just that signature phrase, but also a kind of too-cool-for-school hipness that dissolves a bit upon realizing that he’s an older guy on the prowl for teenage girls. McConaughey’s prep to settle into the role of Wooderson involved inhabiting the mind of a dude who digs cars, rock ’n’ roll, and “chicks,” and he ran with it, reminding readers that the film originally had only three scripted scenes for his character. The lesson: “Do one thing well, then another. Once, then once more.” It’s clear that the author is a thoughtful man, even an intellectual of sorts, though without the earnestness of Ethan Hawke or James Franco. Though some of the sentiments are greeting card–ish, this book is entertaining and full of good lessons.

A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-13913-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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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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