The Empty Glass

( 23 )

Overview

In the early-morning hours of August 5, 1962, Los Angeles County deputy coroner Ben Fitzgerald arrives at the home of the world's most famous movie star, now lying dead in her bedroom, naked and still clutching a telephone. There he discovers The Book of Secrets-Marilyn Monroe's diary-revealing a doomed love affair with a man she refers to only as "The General." In the following days, Ben unravels a wide-ranging cover-up and some heartbreaking truths about the fragile, luminous woman behind the celebrity. Soon ...

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The Empty Glass: A Novel

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Overview

In the early-morning hours of August 5, 1962, Los Angeles County deputy coroner Ben Fitzgerald arrives at the home of the world's most famous movie star, now lying dead in her bedroom, naked and still clutching a telephone. There he discovers The Book of Secrets-Marilyn Monroe's diary-revealing a doomed love affair with a man she refers to only as "The General." In the following days, Ben unravels a wide-ranging cover-up and some heartbreaking truths about the fragile, luminous woman behind the celebrity. Soon the sinister and surreal accounts in The Book of Secrets bleed into Ben's own life, and he finds himself, like Monroe, trapped in a deepening paranoid conspiracy. The Empty Glass is an unforgettable combination of the riveting facts and legendary theories that have dogged Monroe, the Kennedy's, the Mafia, and even the CIA for decades. It is an exciting debut from a remarkable new thriller writer.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
James Ellroy fans will relish Baker’s impressive first novel, a dark paranoid thriller. On August 5, 1962, Ben Fitzgerald, an L.A. deputy coroner specializing in suicides, answers a summons to go to the modest Brentwood home of Marilyn Monroe. His colleagues and her friends are keen to classify the movie star’s death as a suicide, but Fitzgerald has his doubts, which only intensify after he stumbles across Monroe’s diary, loaded with cryptic references to “the General” and Cuba. The possible suspects in a potential murder case won’t surprise those versed in the rampant speculation surrounding Monroe’s death, but barbed prose makes a familiar story fresh, as does the effective use of flashbacks and flash-forwards, starting with Fitzgerald’s account of his shooting of a police captain who tried to get him to swallow a fatal dose of pills. Fluent in the noir idiom, Baker, Condé Nast Traveler’s executive editor, maintains the depressing atmospherics throughout. Agent: Richard Pine, Inkwell Management. (July)
Booklist

“[In The Empty Glass] Baker conjures a suitably paranoid atmosphere and crackling dialogue in this look at the seedy intersection of celebrity, politics, and power.”

Library Journal
Baker, executive editor of Condé Nast Traveler, offers a first novel about a woman who's starred in a lot of fiction lately: Marilyn Monroe. Maybe it's the 50th anniversary of her death, coming in August 2012—or maybe she just seems so relevant as both symbol and victim of an outsize celebrity culture. Here, Los Angeles County deputy coroner Ben Fitzgerald arrives at the scene of Monroe's death and finds her diary, which reveals a doomed affair with "The General"; soon he scents a cover-up in the making.
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Product Details

  • BN ID: 2000003990436
  • Manufacturer: Tantor Media, Inc.
  • Publication date: 9/17/2012
  • Format: MP3
  • Edition description: Unabridged
  • Sales rank: 1,265,755
  • Ships to U.S.and APO/FPO addresses only.

Meet the Author

J. I. Baker is the executive editor of Conde Nast Traveler, and a former development editor at Time Inc. He has also worked at Real Simple, Glamour, and US Weekly and is a founding editor of Time Out New York. This is his first novel.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

After a while, everything started to blur.

I felt that I’d spent hours, days, lying on the floor of this hotel room with my face against the wood and my eyes open wide as the air came through the vent near my head. The whoosh was all I heard— then the door closing, the keys in the lock, the footsteps on the floor stopping as I turned to see the patent leather shoes before my eyes, the stub of a cigarette dropped between them, burning.

And then there was the gun.

“Wake up.” Captain Hamilton pushed the Smith & Wesson into my neck. “I want you to write me a letter.”

I don’t remember when or how I did it. The three (or was it four? Or five? Or ten? I don’t remember) Nembutals had knocked me out. The captain was out of focus, going double.

He handed me the pen that she had used to write her own last words, and forced me to write mine. Reeling on the bed with his gun at my temple, I thought of the notes written on napkins and doors and windows and carpets that lined the shelves of Suicide Notes and Weapons. Now I was adding my own: Take care of Max for me. Tell him that I loved him. Tell him that whatever else his father did, he loved his son.

“That’s good, Delilah.” He loomed over me. “Now you feel good?”

I nodded.

“Even better.” He handed me the bottle.

I leaned forward, reached for the pills, and ended up with the gun. Ah, his shoulder had been injured, Doc. You know that.

I don’t need to tell you that I shot him. I was on my back, elbows locked. He was bending down when the gun kicked, a black dime smoking on his chest. He reared, touched the hole, and stared at the fluid that glistened like oil on his finger. “Oh, I know what this is,” he said as he fell.

I heard the sound his skull made.

I know what happens when you die.

You sigh and rub your forehead. “All right.” You shake a Chesterfield from your pack and light it with a kitchen match. You drag and blow smoke to the ceiling fan with the bulb above the table, and I notice (not for the first time) how clammy and pitted your skin is. You’re a big man, Doc, like an aging football player, with the face and waist of a small- town cop. “Let’s go over this again,” you say. You adjust your wire- rimmed glasses and check the notes that you are keeping in the book near the Sony reel-to-reel, lying on the desk like a suitcase, rolling at RECORD. “You shot him.”

“In self- defense. You see the bandages. You gave me the Novril.”

“Is it working?”

“For now.”

You sit on one side of the table; I sit on the other. Between us, that reel-to-reel, a stack of used and unused seven- inch tapes, a glass ashtray, a vial of Novril, and your pack of Chesterfields. There is also a box with a label reading “Fitzgerald, Ben, Psych Eval.” It contains what you call “the evidence”:

  • 1. The Smith & Wesson
  • 2. A vial of Nembutal
  • 3. A piece of notebook paper reading “Chalet 52” and “July 28
  • 4. A stained manila folder containing a number of 8 × 10 photographs
  • 5. Amahl and the Night Visitors
  • 6. A bag of ashes
  • 7. A new red MEMORIES diary.

You pick up Item No. 1. “It had your fingerprints on it.”

“Like I said, I shot him.”

“Why?”

“Why did anyone do anything? Everything changed after she died.”

“Who?”

“The actress. I’ve told you this already.”

“Tell me again.”

So I do:

“I woke to the sound of the knock on the door and sat up in the light from the neon sign that snaked along the wall outside the window,” I say. “An empty carton of moo goo gai pan sat beside me; I hadn’t thrown it out. I wasn’t sure if I had dreamt the knock or actually heard it. I didn’t have a phone—”

“Hang on.” You are frowning. Something is wrong with the Sony. The wheels have stopped. You hit REWIND, then PLAY, and I hear my voice:

“—touched the hole, and stared at the fluid that glistened like oil

on his finger—”

You hit STOP and look up at me. “Like oil?”

I nod.

“It glistened like oil, Ben?”

“It’s a simile.”

“Who do you think you are, Edna Ferber?”

But you can’t hear my voice on the tape anymore. This is where the recording stopped. There is nothing but static. You make minor adjustments to the machine and try it again: REWIND, STOP, PLAY.

It doesn’t work. You hit it with the heel of your hand.

REWIND, STOP, PLAY.

My voice: “Why did anyone do anything? Everything changed after she died.”

You pause the tape and look at me. “Now pick up where you left off.”

“Give me a cigarette first.”

“I thought you quit.”

“That was yesterday.”

You give me a cigarette.

And a Novril, too: for the pain.

After a while, everything starts to blur.

“Tell the truth this time,” you say.

“I already told you the truth.”

“So tell it again.”

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3
( 23 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(4)

4 Star

(8)

3 Star

(4)

2 Star

(3)

1 Star

(4)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 23 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 1, 2012

    Great take on what really could have happened to Marilyn in her

    Great take on what really could have happened to Marilyn in her last days and what happened to the people investing her death.Kept me till the end and then kept me thinking,......Could it really have happened that way??

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 18, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    this book was exceptionally written.  i loved Ben's voice and hi

    this book was exceptionally written.  i loved Ben's voice and his curious nature and enjoyed discovering the secrets of Marilyn Monroe alongside him.  the writing in this book was beautiful and the idea of the story being written as Ben told it to "Doc" was creative and different.  the ending was sort of confusing and at times i tripped over characters and wished that Baker supplied me with more information, which i why i'm only giving this novel four stars.  one day in the future hopefully i will re-read this book so i can say that i give it five stars, but for now it is only four because of a couple of confusing parts... overall, i loved this book and was haunted and captivated by Ben's thrilling ride.  

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  • Posted April 3, 2013

    Writing is very poor and at most times disjointed.  Did not enjo

    Writing is very poor and at most times disjointed.  Did not enjoy the book whatsoever.  If it had not been chosen for our book club, I would not have bothered finishing it.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 18, 2012

    You Haunt me MM

    Page turner though confusing at times. Have researched MM for 50yrs. This books uses known documentation to weave a plausible story.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 12, 2012

    Waste of time

    Writing was sketchy. The story did not flow well. Nothing new about the details of Ms. Monroe's early tragic death.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 7, 2012

    Highly recommended

    Well written, imaginative, entertaining and thrilling. I read it in one day.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 5, 2012

    Would not recommend-did not enjoy

    It was a very strange book. Hard to follow and very depressing.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 5, 2012

    Disappointed

    This read like a 1940's P.I. movie. It takes the story of Marilyn's death scene and imagines things that never happened. The protagonist is , of course, smarter than everyone else in the world. I felt like I really wasted my money on this one.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 4, 2012

    Great book

    This was a great book it was interesting and well written I could not stop reading it I even brought my nook to work with me so I could keep reading it.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 30, 2012

    Loved the book

    The story kept me interested and in suspense i loved the writing and could not put it down umtil the end highly recommended

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 28, 2012

    This book was hard to get into. It was written as if the person

    This book was hard to get into. It was written as if the person was
    talking to someone, then it switched to "live action" and kept
    going back and forth, so was confusing at times. It did have a good plot overall.

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  • Posted August 19, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    I couldn't put this book down. Excellently paced, very intriguin

    I couldn't put this book down. Excellently paced, very intriguing,
    suspenseful, and well-written. Highly recommended.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 12, 2012

    Confused

    This book does alot of jumping around not as good as I though it was going to be disappointed ....

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 9, 2012

    I misunderstood

    I see what the writer was trying to convey! Sad Marilyn only some understood her

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 13, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted March 28, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted October 18, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted December 12, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted February 2, 2014

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 10, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

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