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by Greg King

Pub Date: June 15th, 2000
ISBN: 1-56980-157-6
Publisher: Barricade

An oddly timed, incredibly detailed account of the most famous of the Manson Family’s victims.

Throughout the summer of 1969, America was transfixed by a series of brutal murders in and around Los Angeles. The victims ranged from an anonymous, well-to-do couple to an heiress to the pregnant wife of director Roman Polanski, Sharon Tate. Exhibiting an almost voyeuristic passion for his topic, King (The Duchess of Windsor, 1999) unearths a staggering trove of information on Tate, an actress who died at 26 with barely a handful of films and television appearances to her credit. Beyond limning Tate’s short life, King takes readers into the midst of the Manson “family,” profiling her killers’ pasts, the sex and drugs rites of the Manson family, and the career of Manson himself (the criminal and failed pop idol who was convicted of compelling them to murder). Making extensive use of seldom-seen material (including police and detective reports, photographs of the murder scene, Manson family-member parole trial transcripts, and interviews with principal and secondary characters like Tate’s mother, Doris, and surviving relatives of other Manson family victims), King unflinchingly recreates the brutality and utter randomness of the events of early August 1969. Beyond the sensational reportage (including a harrowing and grisly, minute-by-minute account of the murders of Tate and the four others at 10050 Cielo Drive), King reveals the condition and whereabouts of Manson family members while including some lucid and trenchant observations on the continuing cult of Manson (e.g., the merchandising of Manson’s image). King also details the victims’-rights advocacy work of Tate’s mother and sister.

Readers might wonder why King’s account suddenly surfaces 31 years after the killings, but true-crime fans and Manson fetishists (you know who you are) will find it irresistible.