Murder at San Simeon
The time was the Roaring Twenties: those prosperous, carefree years after World War I and before the Great Depression. Hollywood was in the throes of talkies, and California's Gold Coast had become a mecca for the world's greatest stars. Newspaper mogul William Randolph Hearst built a castle by the sea for his film star mistress Marion Davies and named it San Simeon. It became a playground for the rich and famous, celebrated for its posh parties and envied for its exclusivity. But in 1924, Hearst would briefly quit both his beloved San Simeon and Marion after the suspicious death of the film producer Thomas Ince aboard the Oneida, Hearst's luxury steam yacht. The guests the night of the murder included Charlie Chaplin and his young wife; John Barrymore; Elinor Glyn and her female lover; and Marion Davies and William Randolph Hearst. The public pounced on the story. Even the Hearst newspapers couldn't control rumors of illegal, drunken behavior; of sexual excesses and jealous rages; of murder at San Simeon. The unsolved mystery became part of Hollywood lore. Catha Kinsolving Burke, an associate professor of history at Occidental College, never imagined that the death of her mother would throw her into the middle of a seventy-year-old drama. But her mother's deathbed words - "San Simeon"--Compel Catha to visit the castle. During a tour, she overhears a tourist discussing the infamous murder and the woman wrongly charged - a woman named Abigail Kinsolving. The information leads Catha to Ethan Purnell, the original investigator of the Ince murder, who now resides in a nursing home. He permits her to examine his papers, which he has stored with his nephew, an idealistic young environmental lawyer named Lucas. Catha's desire for the truth becomes Lucas's, and the two will stop at nothing to achieve some sense of closure. Catha finds herself immersed in the surreal world of San Simeon in the 1920s and its glittering cast of characters as she uncovers many tru.
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