I have never heard of JI Baker, and the only thing I know about Marilyn Monroe is that she was a size 10 and she committed suicide. Equipped with this limited knowledge, I began reading Baker’s The Empty Glass, a fictionalized account that plays up the conspiracies surrounding the starlet’s death.
Told from the perspective of Deputy Coroner Ben Fitzgerald, the novel begins at the end. Fitzgerald is being held captive (presumably by some secret government agency), and he has been subjected to intense questioning about the Monroe case. Throughout the course of the novel, Ben relates his story and how he obtained the top secret information that has the potential to bring down an American dynasty. In a nutshell, upon noticing some glaring inconsistencies at the scene of the alleged suicide, Ben also discovers and steals Monroe’s journal. Armed with his own suspicions and the journal’s shocking contents, Ben voices his concerns, thereby putting himself and his family at risk from those seeking to keep Marilyn’s final secrets hidden.
Baker employs a first person perspective through Fitzgerald, and Ben refers to his captor as “you.” This makes the dialogue between these two men often muddled and confusing. Moreover, as the novel is titled The Empty Glass, it seems that the glass would play a more vital role in plot development, when instead the concept is barely touched upon. Conspiracy theorists make much of the fact although Monroe’s death was caused an overdose of pills – as many as 40 – no water glass was initially found by her bedside.
Nevertheless, I could not put this book down. Its page-turner pace enabled me to overlook the minor annoyances that I encountered along the way. Baker really knows how to end a chapter in a way that forces you to read the next one, and then just one more, and then hell, you might as well just finish the whole book in one sitting. Both captivating and engrossing, this book appeals to anyone who lives a good conspiracy that is loosely based on fact – how loosely, we’ll never know.