Title: The Empty Glass by J.I. Baker
Publisher: Penguin Group USA/Blue Rider Press
Genre: Historical (60s), Mystery, Suspense
Length: 331 pages
Book Rating: B
Review Copy Obtained from Publisher Through NetGalley
In the early-morning hours of August 5, 1962, Los Angeles County deputy coroner Ben Fitzgerald arrives at the home of the world’s most famous movie star, now lying dead in her bedroom, naked and still clutching a telephone. There he discovers The Book of Secrets – Marilyn Monroe’s diary – revealing a doomed love affair with a man she refers to only as “The General.” In the following days, Ben unravels a wide-ranging cover-up and some heartbreaking truths about the fragile, luminous woman behind the celebrity. Soon the sinister and surreal accounts in The Book of Secrets bleed into Ben’s own life, and he finds himself, like Monroe, trapped in a deepening paranoid conspiracy.
The Empty Glass is an unforgettable combination of the riveting facts and legendary theories that have dogged Monroe, the Kennedy’s, the Mafia, and even the CIA for decades. It is an exciting debut from a remarkable new thriller writer.
In The Empty Glass, J.I. Baker blends fact, fiction and conjecture about Marilyn Monroe’s death into an intriguing mystery that is full of twists and turns. The story begins with L.A. County deputy coroner Ben Fitzgerald’s arrival at Marilyn’s bungalow in the early morning hours of August 5, 1962. When subsequent reports do not match up with the evidence, Ben investigates the days preceding her death and what he uncovers is as unbelievable as it is shocking.
The Empty Glass is a very unusual yet extremely compelling mystery. The story is told in first person by Ben Fitzgerald and it is a sometimes confusing mixture of past and present events. Ben directs his comments to an unnamed “Doctor” and “you”. This style definitely took getting used to, but as the novel progressed, I became completely engrossed in the story and eventually I had my own conclusions about the identity of the doctor and you.
The mystery surrounding Marilyn Monroe’s death is very well done and I greatly enjoyed how Mr. Baker wove together all of the various theories about the events that transpired on August 5th. Most of the historical events are accurate, but there were a few inconsistencies. Whether this is deliberate on Mr. Baker’s part or not is unclear, but in the end, the inaccuracies have no impact on the overall story. The theories presented are plausible and Ben’s investigation explores them all. With so many possible motives for murder to choose from, I was genuinely surprised at Ben’s final conclusion as to reason for her death and the identity of Marilyn’s killer.
There is a surreal quality to The Empty Glass. Ben’s investigation begins normally enough, but it does not take long to wonder if what is happening is actually real or the product of drug fueled paranoia. Is there a conspiracy to suppress certain events and facts about Marilyn’s life and her subsequent death? If so, who is behind the conspiracy? The government? The mob? The LAPD?
The Empty Glass by J.I. Baker is an entertaining read that puts a unique spin on a fifty year old mystery that continues to fascinate the public. Marilyn Monroe fans and mystery buffs are sure to enjoy this exceptional story.