Several of the sordid, and sad, stories deal with violent death, such as the murders of William Desmond Taylor and Thelma Todd, Bob Crane's 'officially' unsolved murder, the mysterious deaths of Thomas Ince and Paul Bern (Jean Harlow's husband), the alleged suicide of George Reeves (TV's Superman), and Natalie Wood. Others include gangster ties, like mobster Mickey Cohen, a notorious figure in the West Coast underworld in the '40s and '50s, who hung out with the Rat Pack and may have been responsible for the rise of Richard Milhouse Nixon's career.
Many of these cases involve hushed-up sexual liaisons and secret relationships; most date from a time when studios simply covered up murders and other violent deaths. Although Di Mambro doesn't say she has all the answers in these puzzling cases, in summarizing the stories behind each death and quoting the people involved and other research, she invites readers to make up their own minds. Thankfully, Di Mambro is also careful to include the human side of the people involved, with interviews from family member and friends.
Despite the tragic subject matter, Di Mambro's lean, factual accounts don't get in the way of the story-telling and make for an entertaining read. Di Mambro's website features some of her previous writing, including some of the subjects featured in the book. The book itself is available from The Cadence Group (paperback, ISBN 9780615572697).