Her Secret Tapes and Mysterious Death
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Slapdash account that adds a few grains of new information to the Monroe file with transcripts of tapes the actress made for her psychiatrist.

Boasting the dubious distinction of participation in both the Monroe and the Kennedy industries (The Men Who Murdered Marilyn, 1997; Vendetta: The Kennedys, 1993, etc.), Smith obviously has no problem with beating a dead horse. The tape transcripts run for just a few pages and reveal little of significance, and before even turning to those monologues the author devotes half his narrative to rehashing the details of Monroe’s death. Agatha Christie herself would have been challenged to connect the dots of the evidence at the scene. Jars of pills by the bedside first stood empty, then filled. The bedroom first looked neat and orderly, then chaotic, with papers strewn about. A washing machine hummed in the background—someone washing away evidence, perhaps? Smith does not believe her psychiatrist and the Kennedys killed Monroe, as others have claimed. Instead, he suggests the culprits were CIA operatives eager to topple a political dynasty by setting up the star’s death as a Kennedy plot. The idea seems plausible, though Smith builds his thesis on a stack of ifs, maybes, and might-have-beens. As for Monroe’s tapes, they cover such unedifying topics as taking enemas and having sex with Joan Crawford, plus a few predictable comments about working with Laurence Olivier (“a great, great actor”) and the peculiar remark—perhaps Monroe was just being funny—that the Bible is “a good script.” The repetitious, disorganized text contains glaring factual errors (Garson Kanin, not George Cukor, directed My Favorite Wife; Judy Garland was a young teen in the 1930s, not the 1950s) and enough grammatical howlers to give an English teacher a migraine.

Enough already.

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 2004
ISBN: 0-7867-1380-1
Page count: 352pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1st, 2004


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