I first became a fan of Richard Belzer as an actor portraying Detective John Munch in the series Homicide: Life on the Streets. He wasn’t my favorite from the show because it was so packed with talent but I enjoyed his role. I was surprised to see he was the author (along with David Wayne) of Dead Wrong: Straight Facts on the Country’s Most Controversial Cover-ups. As a listing of conspiracy theories surrounding famous deaths, this is a good book. It is packed with facts that make even the most sheeplike reader say, “hmmm??”

What I don’t like about the book is that it is so repetitious. In listing the “facts” of a case, they are clearly read word-for-word from interviews and other statements. I understand that to show the facts, you need to list them all but rather than saying “Person A said it happened this way. Person B said it happened this way (same wording.) Person C said…. (ditto.) Person D etc. etc.,” you could simply say “Person A, Person B, Person C, D and F all said the exact same thing – it happened this way.” Again, that is just the journalist in me that wants things more concise.

I also think Belzer and Wayne spend way too much time on Marilyn Monroe (and saying the same thing over and over. The first half of the book goes into great detail about John F. Kennedy and MM while the second half covers a lot of other supposed cover-ups: Dr. Martin Luther King, Vincent Foster, Robert Kennedy, David Kelly, Dr. Frank Olsen, and more. If the first couple of cases would have received the same amount of attention as the later ones, the book would have been much tighter and a more enjoyable read.

That said, don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. There is some good stuff here.

by Chris Doelle