Watching Marilyn

      Jack Chapman
Watching Marilyn

In the heatwave summer of 1962 Frank Watson, an investigator with a dubious past in pre-revolutionary Cuba, is hired to plant phone taps in the Hollywood home of Marilyn Monroe. There are rumours Monroe has kept a diary, a red book, detailing her affair with John F. Kennedy, the record of a scandal that could bring down the President.In the heatwave summer of 1962 Frank Watson is hired by Jack Scalligan, a man he believes is working for Twentieth Century Fox, to plant illegal phone taps in the Hollywood home of Marilyn Monroe whose escalating problems with barbiturates and the Kennedys is disrupting the studio’s filming of Something's Got To Give.Watson has recently been dismissed from a clandestine posting at the Havana Embassy after the CIA failed to save Batista's government. Now he’s helped by his partner and brother-in-law, Tommy Guppy, an ex-LAPD detective. A man whose family relationships have dissolved in alcohol and cynicism but whose basic ideals somehow survive.As they watch Monroe’s glamorous life disintegrate Frank becomes personally involved. Similarities between the star’s vulnerability and the fate of a young cabaret singer he rescued from the Havana revolution haunt him, a woman at the other end of success but sharing the same self-destructive core. He feels a guilty complicity with the Hollywood dream that seduced and destroyed her.Marilyn’s personal crisis is echoed on the wider stage by the political turmoil between the Bay of Pigs and the Cuban Missile Crisis. With the world on the edge of nuclear war - the clock in Kennedy’s words at ‘five to midnight’ - Frank Watson comes to believe the Secret Service are conspiring to protect the President by other than legitimate means.There are rumours that Monroe has kept a diary, a red book, detailing her affair with John F. Kennedy, the record of a scandal that could bring down the President.After her death in strange circumstances - some claim suicide, rumours say murder - the book vanishes. Tommy Guppy, suspected of stealing the diary, is killed as shadowy factions scramble for the evidence.Dealing with the aftermath of Guppy’s death on his estranged family, Watson fights to resolve ambiguities and shifting allegiances as he searches a city of lost beliefs. A Los Angeles where failed politician Richard Nixon and has-been actor Ronald Reagan walk the same streets as Sinatra’s Rat Pack and Mafia dons, a time when naked ambitions create reality out of Hollywood noir.
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