It would be petty to harp on the occasional small mistakes that may surface in a work of historical research. Are we to dismiss an exhaustive study like Joan Mellen's Hellman and Hammett because she inadvertently moves the start of the Spanish Civil War up a year? Even the authors of Hollywood Kryptonite erroneously raised an outlandish possibility by hinting that George Reeves played Russian roulette with an automatic pistol. But needless mistakes completely permeate Death in Paradise, many of whose dates and ages are off by a year or two, leading us to suspect that the authors' research mostly consisted of strip-mining the World Wide Web and Kenneth Anger's Hollywood Babylon. For the record, Manson Family victim Steven Earl Parent was not one of Sharon Tate's friends, Kato Kaelin never wrote an O.J. Simpson book, nor did the LAPD-Symbionese Liberation Army shootout last two hours. These are only a few of the many inaccurate statements contained in Death in Paradise.
Just when the book's shoddy scholarship begins to irritate, it becomes plain that accuracy isn't an issue here because we're not really meant to read the text with any care. Mumble some tired cliches about Los Angeles being a defective dream factory, recycle someone else's thoughts about L.A. noir, then tie them together with a knowing reference to the Owens Valley, and you've got a book as thin and flat as the coffee table it's meant to cover.