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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

3.94 of 5 stars 3.94  ·  rating details  ·  433 ratings  ·  48 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
Published June 1986 by Dutton Books (first published 1986)
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Falling Waters by Gary D. HenryMy Autobiography by Charles ChaplinClara Bow by David StennMe by Katharine HepburnThe Parade's Gone By... by Kevin Brownlow
Best of Old Hollywood
47th out of 243 books — 70 voters
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Classic Film Books
54th out of 324 books — 47 voters

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Bobby Underwood
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
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.
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
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
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.
Thomas Amo
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!
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.
Tiffany Day
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 imagine 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
For a reader who is a movie buff, WOW. A GREAT story and fascinating to watch it unfold. READ THIS
Timo Ivanov
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
Who killed William Desmond Taylor ? Sssh! Aimee Semple McPherson.
A first rate whodunit about the murder if William Desmond Taylor. Aging director King Vidor searches for answers to the 50 year old mystery and what he finds is a studio cover up, a LAPD deliberate stonewall, love affairs, homosexuality and stars and starlets whose careers were destroyed . Kirkpatrick keeps us guessing and the ending is bittersweet but meanwhile we get a glimpse of Tinsel Town in the '20's-'60's and the power of the studio system. A must read!! 4 stars.

Marcus Villalobos
this book is about a famous hollywood director King Vidor and he trying to solve the case of who killed the director William Taylor. the case in this book is like a typical hollywood movie but into a book with lots of sex, blackmail, drugs, lies and a very good confusing story. this books doesnt seem like it would actually happen it does surpirslingy. you really have to pay attention to the details and can hardly skim through pages but i recommend it to all who like to think and figure cases out ...more
The unsolved murder of William Desmond Taylor is one of the most fascinating stories from Hollywood's history. Unfortunately, A Cast of Killers does it little justice. It's easily the worst of the books I've read about the murder. It's very sloppy. Photos are mismarked, the research is poor. It reads more like a sensationalized version of events from a trashy gossip magazine. It also settles on one of the least likely solutions to the case and presents it as fact with very little evidence. Read ...more
Julie Failla Earhart
not a page turner, but fascinating and a good read...I agree with Vidor on who the culprit was
I read this when it first came out, nostalgia tempted me to re-read it. I should have let the golden memories stay. Kirkpatrick weaves King Vidor's search for the solution to the William Desmond Taylor murder into an entertaining read for the most part. I came away from the book feeling like it was very sloppy and I am forever suspect to any book that has no bibliography and notations and sources to back up any claims. Better to read Bruce Long's hard to find tome.
Very good book! At first I was afraid that I would get lost in all of the characters names, since I am not familiar with silent film stars. But I was able to keep them straight and it really was such an interesting mystery. Even better that it was a true story. Has me eager to Google the people in the book. And I loved the update on everyone at the end of the book. Definitely recommend it!
Great story - I'm building the WDT murder into my course in the spring - but the book (even in its reissued edition) has a remarkable number of errors, both factual and grammatical. The focus on King Vidor as protagonist, I found, got in the way of the narrative: too much 'poor me, the world has passed me by' and not enough focus on the early days of Hollywood for their own sake.
This book is a fantastic read, although some of the author's research is questionable. It's a highly entertaining look into the morals (and noticeable lack thereof) of early Hollywood and how it was covered up. Well written, it moves speedily along, leading one on an investigation into who killed William Desmond Taylor. And yes, the butler is a suspect.
As a fan of old movies and Hollywood in its heyday, this is a fascinating look at the seamier side of Tinseltown in its infancy. A true unsolved murder mystery, with many of the important celebrities of the time involved or linked in some way. Don't know if you would call it a 'fun read', but it was definitely as good, or better, than fiction.
I'm rereading this one right now. If you are interested in old Hollywood during the days of silent movies this a good fast read. Some complaints of not being 100% factual--but there are other books on the topic if this one hooks you.
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