A troubled Los Angeles socialite is both terrorized and tempted by a killer in this “brilliantly written” true story by the author of A Death in Canaan (Ann Rule).
Hope Masters lived in one of the most exclusive neighborhoods in Beverly Hills—but was entitled to food stamps. Pretty, petite, and privileged, she was recovering from two failed marriages and a string of poor decisions. But when Hope met and fell in love with a handsome advertising executive, she believed her life was finally back on track—until the morning she woke up to find the barrel of a gun in her mouth.
Hope’s fiancé lay dead in the next room. His killer was a new acquaintance who’d been visiting the couple in a remote ranch in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains. He claimed to be a journalist, but his real identity was as mysterious as his motivations. Even more bizarre, however, was what happened at the end of the long, nightmarish weekend in which Hope saw everything she cared about destroyed: She began to fall in love with her tormenter.
A fascinating and frightening portrait of the power of evil to lead the most innocent of victims down the darkest of paths, A Death in California is “a first-rate piece of reporting” (Kirkus Reviews) on “one of the strangest cases in the annals of American crime” (The New York Times).
“Tingling drama . . . The queasy fascination of true evil will draw you, unresisting, through Joan Barthel’s true-crime saga.” —Cosmopolitan
“A pageturner . . . A first-rate piece of reporting.” —Kirkus Reviews
“First rate . . . A contemporary California story, with ramifications and implications reaching far beyond the particular settings.” —Los Angeles Times
“One of the strangest cases in the annals of American crime.” —The New York Times
“Superbly documented, brilliantly written. The suspense will keep readers caught to the very last page.” —Ann Rule, author of The Stranger Beside Me
“I recommend A Death in California. There is, at core, a stunning duel of two major characters. Hope Masters, the Beverly Hills ‘socialite,’ is foolish, sympathetic and complex—a fully realized woman caught in a bizarre web by a sensational spider.” —Thomas Thompson, author of Blood and Money
“No novelist can compete with Joan Barthel’s honest and gritty realism.” —Phoenix Gazette
“A powerful story, recommended.” —Library Journal
Joan Barthel is an award-winning author of nonfiction and a contributor to many national publications, including the Washington Post Magazine and the New York Times Magazine. Her first book, A Death in Canaan (1976), uncovered the miscarriage of justice in the case of a Connecticut teenager accused of murdering his mother. It won the American Bar Association Gavel Award, was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, and became an Emmy-nominated television movie. A Death in California (1981), the story of a Beverley Hills socialite caught in the thrall of the man who murdered her fiancé, was the basis for a television miniseries. Love or Honor (1989), the extraordinary account of a married undercover cop who infiltrated the Greek mafia only to fall in love with the Capo’s daughter, was called “fascinating” and “compelling” by Nicholas Pileggi. Barthel cowrote Rosemary Clooney’s autobiography, Girl Singer (1999), and is the author of American Saint (2014), a biography of Elizabeth Seton with a foreword by Maya Angelou.