Looking for Mabel Normand

Madcap Mabel Normand


A Silent Hollywood Mystery that

speaks to today’s audience.

by Michael Druxman



Marilyn Slater

March 5, 2015

MURDER IN BABYLON is the latest novel by Michael B. Druxman; it is based on Hollywood’s most famous murder mystery.  William Desmond Taylor, the president of the Director’s Association (the forerunner of the Director’s Guild) was a respected filmmaker at Famous Players-Lasky, (which morphed into Paramount). But on a cold night in 1922 Taylor was killed; the killer is still unknown even after 93 years of professional and armature detective work, and a shelf of books that speculate on who might have done it.

Druxman begins the story on February 1, 1922 the “roaring” had just begun the wild and colorful romp through the era, which we know as the “Roaring 20s.   This mystery is perfect for a cold weather read; the pace is fast, suspenseful, characters well-drawn. The Hollywood of the silent era comes alive with compelling and sharp storytelling.

It was at this point that the movies looked in a mirror and found the image colored by scandals and Hollywood was compelled to re-shape what it shown on screens; the self censorship came to the film industry and the Hays Code came into existence.  It was the time of the Roscoe Arbuckle trials.  Because of the friendship of Mabel Normand and Mary Miles Minter with Taylor there were demands for banning of their movies, not for anything in the films but rather the off screen behavior and who their friends were.  

The facts in MURDER IN BABYLON are real and at times almost surreal; Druxman has constructed a character named Ben Birnbaum, a reporter for a LA newspaper, who covers the Taylor case and makes the evidence understandable.


We have BearManor Media to thank for this new Druxman novel.  You might want to read more of his books, including several nonfiction works about Hollywood, its movies, and the people who make them (e.g., BASIL RATHBONE: His Life and His Films, MAKE IT AGAIN, SAM: A Survey of Movie Remakes, ONE GOOD FILM DESERVES ANOTHER: A Survey of Movie Sequels and THE MUSICAL: From Broadway to Hollywood). He has written two other novels, NOBODY DROWNS IN MINERAL LAKE and SHADOW WATCHER, plus the humorous revisionist history, ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD: From the Secret Files of Harry Pennypacker. His two memoirs are: MY FORTY-FIVE YEARS IN HOLLYWOOD AND HOW I ESCAPED ALIVE and LIFE, LIBERTY & THE PURSUIT OF HOLLYWOOD.