The coming year will see a deluge of books about Hunter S. Thompson, the late gonzo journalist and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas author. Everyone from longtime collaborator Ralph Steadman (just this month) to Rolling Stone scribe Corey Seymour (coming in April 2007) has written about his experiences with Thompson. But perhaps the most compelling tome, if only because of its title, is Who Killed Hunter Thompson?, to be published by San Francisco's Last Gasp in early December.
Edited by Warren Hinckle — former columnist for the Chron and the Examiner, now editor and publisher of The Argonaut — the book is a collection of essays by Susie Bright, Jerry Brown, and dozens of Thompson's other former friends and colleagues. It remains to be seen if the eponymous question is meant rhetorically, or if Hinckle's contributors speculate on whether Thompson's suicide involved foul play. Even if it's just a marketing ploy, the title promises the kind of juicy scandal that never fails to sell books.
It's hardly the first time a nonfiction author has used a noirish title to attract readers. But is the question answered? Well … sometimes. Here's a short selection of other volumes with murderous titles — and their verdicts:
Who Killed Daniel Pearl?
By Bernard-Henri Levy (Melville House, 2003)
SUSPECTED ASSASSIN: Al Qaeda, or Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence, or some combination of the two.
Who Killed JonBenet Ramsey?
By Cyril H. Wecht and Charles Bosworth (Onyx, 1998)
SUSPECTED ASSASSIN: John, Patsy, or Burke Ramsey, or all of the above, or none of the above.
Who Killed Kurt Cobain?
By Ian Halperin and Max Wallace (Citadel, 1999)
SUSPECTED ASSASSIN: Courtney Love, possibly with the help of a hit man.
Who Killed Martin Luther King?
By Philip Melanson (Odonian, 1993)
SUSPECTED ASSASSIN: The CIA, the FBI, and the Memphis Police Department, either working together or separately. Or not at all. Not to be confused with the book of the same name by James Earl Ray.
Who Killed John Lennon?
By Fenton Bresler (Doubleday, 1989)
SUSPECTED ASSASSIN: Mark David Chapman, by way of a CIA hypnosis program.
Who Killed King Tut?
By Michael R. King and Gregory M. Cooper (Prometheus, 2004)
SUSPECTED ASSASSIN: Of the four alleged culprits, all evidence points to Ay, Tut's prime minister and adviser. Or maybe not.
Who Killed Jesus?
By John Dominic Crossan (HarperSanFrancisco, 1996)
SUSPECTED ASSASSIN: The Romans, who pinned it on the Jews.
Who Killed Canadian History?
By J. L. Granatstein (HarperCollins, 2000)
SUSPECTED ASSASSIN: The Canadian education system, or the Canadian government, or “multicultural mania.”
The Big Picture: Who Killed Hollywood?
By William Goldman (Applause Books, 2001)
SUSPECTED ASSASSIN: The Oscars, Hollywood executives, and quite possibly the film Saving Private Ryan. Not to be confused with the book of the same name by Peter Bart.
Who Killed Homer?
By Victor Davis Hanson and John Heath (Encounter Books, 2001)
SUSPECTED ASSASSIN: Sweater-wearing, excessive footnote-writing, PC finger-wagging, namby-pamby liberal academics.