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The Empty Glass by J.I. Baker
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The Empty Glass (edition 2012)

by J.I. Baker

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62None190,348 (3.09)5
Member:bookofsecrets
Title:The Empty Glass
Authors:J.I. Baker
Info:Blue Rider Press (2012), Hardcover, 336 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:***
Tags:Marilyn Monroe, mystery, suspense, historical fiction

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The Empty Glass by J.I. Baker

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Marilyn Monroe is one of the most iconic stars in American history. Numerous non-fiction books detail her life but it is the fiction that provides more fodder for the rumors about her death; namely because it can draw on the smallest of details and create a story around them. If it sounds like I’m getting ready to slam this genre, relax. I’m a fan of it, albeit not of the more trashy and explicit kind of books. The Empty Glass by J.I. Baker takes Marilyn’s last days alive and uses them as part of a theory about her death (suicide? murder?). The good news is that he does it well. The Empty Glass resurrects a number of the inconsistencies in the aftermath of the discovery of Marilyn’s body and the investigation that followed.

This is the perfect read for a cold and dreary weekend because it reflects just that. For a star of such shining luminosity Baker turns her last days into a muddled mess of confusion. She was alternately high and low, angry and apathetic, sober and stoned out of her mind. It is the same for the narrator, deputy coroner Ben Fitzgerald, who is sent to the scene to find information on the next of kin and instead stumbles into the mystery of her missing diary, the weekend she spent with Frank Sinatra before her death, and tapes made from bugs placed around her house and on her phone. Despite every manner of abuse heaped on him, Fitzgerald is lured by Marilyn’s mystique into trying to get answers to questions that no one wants asked. His obsession with her leads him into the same dangerous territory Marilyn entered throughout her life.

Baker does a marvelous job with the voices of Monroe and Fitzgerald. He mimics the staccato and paranoia of too much alcohol and uppers and the bleary sluggishness of barbiturates to such perfection it feels as if you’re in the room with them. Sometimes it’s fun and exciting and sometimes it’s painful to watch. By intermingling their voices a point is reached where it’s no longer certain who the subject is. Yes, Monroe is the celebrity and Fitzgerald a coroner who has made some bad choices but both find themselves in over their heads. In The Empty Glass Baker captures the disarray, confusion, and fear that enveloped Marilyn’s life and the life of anyone who got too close—even after she died. ( )
  cathgilmore | Jan 24, 2014 |
THE EMPTY GLASS is an interesting fictitious account of Marilyn Monroe's final days and death, blending facts with popular (conspiracy) theories.

The protagonist of the story is Ben Fitzgerald, the fictional deputy coroner for Los Angeles County, who is called to Marilyn's home the morning after she died. His somewhat simple job of notifying next-of-kin becomes very complicated and dangerous when he finds and steals Marilyn's diary (called The Book of Secrets!!). Some very powerful people find out Ben has the diary, and they're determined to get it back, whatever the cost. Ben is not certain who is after him, but he knows his life is in danger, just as he's sure Marilyn's death was not suicide. He decides to investigate...

One of the big mysteries of the 20th century was what really happened to Marilyn Monroe, so I was curious to read this book. It took me a while to get used to the writing style. Ben is telling his story of the diary fiasco to someone - we don't know who - then, the story suddenly flips to a past event. I had to really pay attention to keep characters, times and places straight.

Though I had some issues with the book, overall I enjoyed reading THE EMPTY GLASS. The author's conclusion about how and why Marilyn Monroe died is quite plausible - I think. It does make me question a major part of the investigation. I read through this book pretty quickly because I had to know how it ended (and I'm not a fast reader!). A page turner, for sure. It was a great choice of book to read on a cold, rainy Sunday afternoon. ( )
  bookofsecrets | Nov 13, 2012 |
This is a great premise: Marilyn Monroe's private diary written up until the night of her death. Unfortunately, the author doesn't make a good story in spite of his good premise. ( )
  emr093 | Aug 24, 2012 |
I finished this boo yesterday and shortly after I was done turned on the television to watch the news and there was a picture of Marilyn Monroe. Turns out that yesterday would have been her birthday, which was kind of creepy because this book is about Marilyn's apparent suicide and the controversy surrounding it. Yet it is so much more than a retelling or rehashing of this story because the author has added a new element to this story. Ben, an asst. coroner is called to the scene of Marilyn's death and from there his life is irrevocable changed, told in flashbacks to a psychiatrist in prison, we follow Ben as he investigated Marilyn's death. Baker has done a wonderful job writing in a paranoid noir style (yes with all the constant smoking and drinking that these novels always included, a style he maintains until the end. Very good read, a thriller that I could not put down until I finished. Readers of the old noir mysteries will love this book. ARC from Net Galley. ( )
  Beamis12 | Jun 2, 2012 |
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