The dark story behind the bright lights of Tinseltown From the outside, Hollywood starlet Lana Turner seemed to have it all―a thriving film career, a beautiful daughter, and the kind of fame and fortune that most people could only dream of. But when the famous femme fatale began dating mobster Johnny Stompanato, thug for the infamous west coast mob boss Mickey Cohen, her personal life became violent and unpredictable. Lana's teenage daughter, Cheryl, watched her beloved mother's life deteriorate as Stompanato's intense jealousy took over. Eventually, the physical and emotional abuse became too much to bear, and Lana attempted to break it off with Johnny―with disastrous consequences. The details of what happened that fateful night remain foggy, but it ended in a series of frantic phone calls and Stompanato dead on Lana's bedroom floor, with Cheryl claiming to have plunged a knife into his abdomen in an attempt to protect her mother. The subsequent murder trial made for the biggest headlines of the year, its drama eclipsing every Hollywood movie. New York Times bestselling author Casey Sherman pulls back Tinseltown's velvet curtain to reveal the dark underbelly of celebrity, rife with toxic masculinity and casual violence against women, and tells the story of Lana Turner and her daughter, who finally stood up to the abuse that plagued their family for years. A Murder in Hollywood transports us back to the golden age of film and illuminates one of the 20th century's most notorious true crime tales.
The Sexy Nerd's review. . .
I have always been intrigued by old Hollywood stories of lust, love, mayhem and murder. There’s something so mysterious about it and yet there’s also a sense of sadness. I’ve seen some of Lana Turner’s movies and personally I didn’t feel one way or the other about them. She was the typical movie starlet like her counterparts, Joan Crawford and later, Marilyn Monroe. She was the silver screen’s eye candy and many moviegoers flocked to see her blonde ringlets and bombshell curves. She became known as the “sweater girl,” of which she detested that title and worked hard to remove herself from it.
So, imagine my surprise when I learned of this novel. It was right up my alley of things I’d want to read and what an explosive read it was! Oh my, where do I even begin?! First off, I’m amazed at how so many Hollywood stars came into their fame. Lana wasn’t any different. In fact, she was still wet-behind-the-ears and got discovered while eating ice cream in a malt shop. A well-known journalist found Lana to be so beautiful and told her she ought to be in films. It happened just like that for her.
Although she didn’t have to work at it to get where she eventually got to, Lana wanted more than just the glitz and glam of Hollywood, Lana wanted love. She wanted it so much that she eventually married four times. One would think after the second failed marriage, she should stop, but in those days, a woman in her position wasn’t afforded the life of just dating a man and/or living in sin. If you were seen dating and stating you’re in love, you had to marry. But somewhere along the way, Lana lost herself.
It was at that time she was her most vulnerable and met a man who introduced himself as John Steele. Lana later learned that wasn’t the truth. For, the truth was much more sinister than a regular ordinary name. She was in fact dating “the” Johnny Stompanato, a well-known mobster and muscleman for “the” Mickey Cohen, a boss, and the man who founded and built The Flamingo in Las Vegas before it was “Las Vegas.” This was a story that couldn’t be made up. It’s often said that truth is stranger than fiction and these words couldn’t have rung truer in Lana Turner’s case.
One fateful night on April 4, 1958, Johnny Stompanato stormed into Lana Turner’s home demanding that she not end their love affair. Lana grew tired of his violent acts and fits of rage and needed for him to leave. Well, he did just that, but not in the way either of them could have imagined. When all was said and done, Stompanato was left on Lana’s carpet with a wound to his abdomen dead. This became one of Hollywood’s most notorious murder mysteries of those times.
Sherman did a magnificent job detailing the backstory of all the mobsters and how they tied into Lana Turner’s life. I found this book mesmerizing and extremely interesting. I learned things about big time Hollywood stars that make me look at their bodies of work and them, in a completely different light. In fact, I threw some side eyes in their direction. I will never view some of those stars quite the same way as I once did. Holy cow!!! This book was quite explosive and I could not get enough. This satisfied all my cravings for a good old-fashioned murder that happened to be true. Wow!
The Sexy Nerd gives A Murder in Hollywood five additional movie scenes to add to the already heated story line. This novel grabs the reader’s attention leaving you wanting more and not wanting to put the book down. I hated it when I had to stop. I highly encourage any old Hollywood stories fans to read this book. You’ll be so glad you did. It has a bit of everything you’re looking for in a book. A Murder in Hollywood goes on sale, Tues., February 13, 2024, at your favorite book retailers or wherever books are sold. Make sure you grab your copy!
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