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A Cast of Killers: The True Story of Hollywood's Most Scandalous Murder
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A Cast of Killers: The True Story of Hollywood's Most Scandalous Murder

3.93  ·  Rating Details ·  628 Ratings  ·  67 Reviews
On February 1, 1922, the distinguished silent-film director William Desmond Taylor was shot to death in his Los Angeles bungalow by an unknown assailant. Reports of strange activities at the scene of the crime circulated soon after. When the police arrived, was the head of Paramount Studios burning a bundle of papers in the fireplace, and was a well-known actress searching ...more
Hardcover, 301 pages
Published June 1986 by Dutton Books (first published 1986)
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58th out of 299 books — 110 voters
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Community Reviews

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Oct 19, 2009 Karla rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, film
Although there have been other and more solid theories out there about the motive and perpetrators of director William Desmond Taylor's murder in 1922, this one has an added level of interest because Kirkpatrick tells the story of a high-level sleuth. King Vidor, well-known director and contemporary of Taylor's, investigated the crime over the course of decades and this book is the result of that inquiry. As I said, the finale is not completely convincing (and may be a bit of a cop-out), but for ...more
Bobby Underwood
Nov 15, 2014 Bobby Underwood rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
King Vidor was a legendary film director largely forgotten by Hollywood at the time of his death. Sydney Kirkpatrick came to Vidor's home after his death to research a well deserved biography but instead discovered a buried box full of dynamite. In the box were notes for a planned project which was to be the director's comeback film. But the explosive nature of his findings had prompted Vidor to bury it, literally.

This book is based on what Kirkpatrick found in that box. It is full of mystery an
Dec 01, 2008 Denis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of the best books written about Hollywood. A true "Sunset Boulevard" kind of story, which also reads like a thriller about Hollywood in the twenties. Kirkpatrick's own inquiry is extremely believable and it's hard not to think that he did actually find the solution to one of the most notorious mysteries of Tinseltown. The true characters of this delicious read are bigger than life and riveting. It's also a perfect painting of the true face of the Dream Factory in the silent era.
Nov 21, 2009 faeriemyst rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A CAST OF KILLERS is a compelling look back into the 1922 unsolved murder of William Desmond Taylor. The author tells the story through the eyes of director King Vidor, using his actual research of the murder during the years sixty-six and sixty-seven.

Once I picked this up, I could not put it back down, or rather, I didn't want to put it down for a second. Sydney D. Kirkpatrick knows how to grab ahold of a reader and keep them locked into the book until the very end. To make sure nothing spoiled
Oct 21, 2014 Hannah rated it it was ok
I normally love historic true crime, but it was a slog to get through what should have been a fascinating whodunnit. Kirkpatrick's writing style isn't to my taste.
Aug 12, 2015 Ginger rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime
Very interesting true crime novel about an early Hollywood scandal. In 1922 the director William Desmond Taylor was found murdered, with various Hollywood players implicated in his death. Despite much rumour and speculation the crime was never solved.

Forty years later, in the 1960's, the legendary director King Vidor decided to investigate what really happened to his friend. Written by Sidney Kirkpatrick, the novel recounts Vidor's investigation and involves many people from 1920's Hollywood, b
Thomas Amo
Jan 20, 2011 Thomas Amo rated it it was amazing
Shelves: true-crime
I found this wonderful gem in pristine condition in a used bookstore. I absolutely hung on every word of how the story unfolded. For anyone who loves old hollywood and mystery "A Cast of Killers" is an absolute must read!!!! I had heard of the William Desmond Taylor murder when I was a boy and always wanted to learn more about it. This book is as close as I believe any one has ever come to learning much of what was kept hidden from the public.

Great book!
Sep 21, 2016 Ceejay rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
On February 1st, 1922, noted American film director William Desmond Talor was murdered in his Hollywood home. The mystery was never solved. In the late 1960's, the great film director King Vidor decided to finally solve this murder. He did so, also discovering why the murder went unsolved.King Vidor never made a film of his findings, deciding to wait until those involved died. Vidor passed away without ever disclosing his findings. The author of this book, with permission of the Vidor family, ha ...more
Dec 30, 2007 Juls rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-awhile-ago
What a fun book trying to uncover the murder of a 1920's starlet. It's full of golden age movie stars, coverups and discoveries about people who'd never expect. A great, fun read.
Jim McIntosh
At first, I thought that this was a "Dan Brown-ish" made up thriller. After reading the end notes, I am not sure. Instead of just presenting the murder and clues, we are instead lead through the murder investigation by a long-dead movie director - - including what this director, King Vidor, was thinking. And, if these were indeed his thoughts, what a pedestrian man he was! It's hard to believe that a man who directed such great movies was such a dolt. In short, a twisted and plodding retelling ( ...more
Jul 22, 2009 Linda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
For a reader who is a movie buff, WOW. A GREAT story and fascinating to watch it unfold. READ THIS
Brannon Boswell
Sep 16, 2016 Brannon Boswell rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
too boring to finish
Tim Evanson
William Desmond Taylor was an A-list Hollywood film director of the silent era. On February 1, 1922, the dapper Irish-American was found shot in the back in his bungalow in the Westlake Park area of downtown Los Angeles. He was 49 years old. There was no sign of a struggle.

When the police arrived 30 minutes later, the house was already swarming with movie studio people. At first, police believed Taylor suffered a perforated ulcer and died from interior bleeding. But when the body was moved, it w
Samantha Glasser
Jan 26, 2014 Samantha Glasser rated it really liked it
Shelves: movies, non-fiction
A Cast of Killers is a fascinating account of the murder of William Desmond Taylor and a sleuthing director King Vidor on the trail of who murdered him. Vidor wants to make a film about the Hollywood scandal which turned up no results and left an open case for the police. Along with Colleen Moore, lover and business partner, Vidor researches a case filled with contradictions and cover-ups.

This book's print is rather large, and it makes the 300 pages go back rapidly with aid from the intriguing s
Aug 23, 2014 Dean rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As many have said, this is as good a thriller/ whodunit as you'll read anywhere....but it's true! In what would make a great film, legendary filmmaker King Vidor tried to solve the murder of William Desmond Taylor, one of the top filmmakers in early Hollywood. We see the evidence through Vidor's eyes as he tracks down leads and clues, and by books end we know who the killer is. I won't spoil it, but having read other books on the subject who reached different conclusions, I would say Vidor got i ...more
Sep 15, 2008 Robert rated it it was ok
Purporting to solve the 1922 murder of Hollywood director William Desmond Taylor, this book came out with much fanfare, but it is an almost total failure. Sloppily researched, with many of the photos misidentified (the photo captioned as being Faith MacLean is actually Kathlyn Williams, for example; the photo captioned as being Taylor in his Canadian army uniform standing with Mary Pickford is not Taylor; the photo captioned as being Mary Miles Minter in "Faith" is neither MMM nor from "Faith," ...more
Feb 16, 2016 Joanna rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was so-so for me. An interesting story at first but somewhat hard to follow. It drug on a little too much in parts and was very confusing when referring to all the different characters by their legal and stage names sometimes within the same paragraph. Also some areas he didn't specify encounters with people happening back in the 1920's or the 1960's. Also I felt like there was no closure at the end of the book after all that investigating and trouble.
Dec 22, 2015 Fernanda rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Reads more like a whodunnit than true crime story. I'm also bothered by the fact that Mr. Kirkpatrick never made the copy of the files he references available to the general public.

Without those, it's not possible to evaluate the quality of the information he presents, and especially the "solution" he presents.

If the book is -- as Mr. Kirkpatrick tries to tell us -- simply an exploration of King Vidor's process and his fascination with the William Desmond Taylor murder mystery, then the book fai
Tiffany Day
Jun 02, 2015 Tiffany Day rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Although slow to start, once you get about 50-75 pages in, it really picks up and becomes darn near impossible to put down. It reads like an old noir mystery - and the author imagines it in a way that the reader can very much picture it as a movie in their mind. We follow King Vidor as he unearths the facts of the old 1922 William Desmond Taylor murder and we wind the paths of all the multiple leads: was it young actress Mary Miles Minter or possibly the other silent-era star whose career was lo ...more
Jul 27, 2014 Janet rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
My brother gave me this book for my birthday, the year it was published. It has been a long time since I read it (it's in a box somewhere in the basement), but I recall enjoying it - it's an interesting peek into a particular time and place. Did King Vidor solve the murder? This book certainly didn't prove it to me.
Chip Lazenby
Sep 10, 2012 Chip Lazenby rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Based on several true stories. King Vidor was a famous Hollywood movie director. He directed Gary Cooper in The Fountainhead. He also directed War and Peace with a large cast including Audrey Hepburn. Kirkpatrick sets out to write a posthumous biography of the director who appears to be a biographer's dream. He kept a detailed diary and calendar of his every day appointments and thoughts for years.
But Kirkpatrick discovers a surprising blank in the Vidor record. A period of about 18 months is co
Jul 21, 2012 Robby rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fascinating look at the death of William Desmond Taylor, silent Hollywood film director, who was murdered one night by a mysterious assailant. The suspects included everyone from two silent film starlets, an overbearing stage mother, to drug dealers, studio heads and Taylor's own brother.

Making it even more fascinating is that King Vidor, a great director in his own right, undertook his own investigation of the case in his twilight years, laying bare just how corrupt and strange the Los Angele
May 12, 2015 Laura rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was such a page turner. It gave me a glimpse into old Hollywood that I've never read anywhere before. The ending was a bit sad - Vidor's meeting with Mary Miles Minter specifically. I wish someone would make this into a movie - it would be great!
Allison Renyi
Dec 16, 2015 Allison Renyi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The sensational true story of Hollywood's most scandalous murder-covered up for sixty years and solved at last by the great film director King Vidor. Great book filed with noir, scandal, intrigue, and suspense
Beverly Rosendahl
Awesome book! I could not put it down! This was definitely a page turner. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes mysteries, whodunits, or the silent film era of Hollywood.
Feb 26, 2015 Susan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting, but more about King Vidor than whodunit. The conclusions he made are unprovable. But it was interesting to get a glimpse of the early days of Hollywood.
Debi Fee
Mar 08, 2015 Debi Fee rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Entertaining. Keeps you turning pages late into the night or all day on the beach which was where I read it. If you love old Hollywood, this a must read.
Karen Christino
Dec 04, 2015 Karen Christino rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Page-turning real-life murder mystery from the early days of Hollywood. Someone DID get away with murder!
Lori Shafer
The subject of this book caught my attention when I was looking for a new book to read. An old Hollywood murder still unsolved. But I tried and tried, but I could not get into this book. I am not saying I will not try it again, but I am saying, I gave up and quit reading.
Dec 28, 2015 Carol rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was the best book I've read about 1920's Hollywood. Highly recommended!
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