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This book is a work of fiction. In order to give a sense of the times, some real events and names of real people and places appear in the book, but the characters and events depicted in this book are imaginary and all the names and events are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.

Copyright © 2021 by Jake Tapper

Cover design by Julianna Lee

Cover photograph by Getty Images

Hachette Book Group supports the right to free expression and the value of copyright. The purpose of copyright is to encourage writers and artists to produce the creative works that enrich our culture.

The scanning, uploading, and distribution of this book without permission is a theft of the author’s intellectual property. If you would like permission to use material from the book (other than for review purposes), please contact [email protected] Thank you for your support of the author’s rights.

Little, Brown and Company

Hachette Book Group

1290 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10104

First ebook edition: May 2021

Little, Brown and Company is a division of Hachette Book Group, Inc. The Little, Brown name and logo are trademarks of Hachette Book Group, Inc.

The publisher is not responsible for websites (or their content) that are not owned by the publisher.

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ISBN 978-0-316-53025-5

LCCN 2020947376


Table of Contents


Title Page




Chapter One: Glendale, California

Chapter Two: New York City

Chapter Three: New York City

Chapter Four: Hollywood, California

Chapter Five: Beverly Hills, California

Chapter Six: Beverly Hills, California

Chapter Seven: Las Vegas, Nevada

Chapter Eight: Las Vegas, Nevada

Chapter Nine: Los Angeles, California

Chapter Ten: Rancho Mirage, California

Chapter Eleven: Rancho Mirage, California

Chapter Twelve: Los Angeles, California

Chapter Thirteen: Beverly Hills, California

Chapter Fourteen: Los Angeles, California

Chapter Fifteen: Franklin Canyon, California

Chapter Sixteen: New York City

Chapter Seventeen: New York City

Chapter Eighteen: Los Angeles, California

Chapter Nineteen: Anaheim, California

Chapter Twenty: Los Angeles, California

Chapter Twenty-One: Anaheim, California

Chapter Twenty-Two: Anaheim, California

Chapter Twenty-Three: Santa Monica, California

Chapter Twenty-Four: Santa Monica, California

Chapter Twenty-Five: Santa Monica, California

Chapter Twenty-Six: Santa Monica, California

Chapter Twenty-Seven: Santa Monica, California

Chapter Twenty-Eight: Santa Monica, California

Chapter Twenty-Nine: Santa Monica, California

Chapter Thirty: Los Angeles, California

Chapter Thirty-One: Los Angeles, California

Chapter Thirty-Two: Rancho Mirage, California

Chapter Thirty-Three: New York City

Discover More

Sources and Acknowledgments

About the Author

Also by Jake Tapper

For Alice and Jack

I love you the most

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Trouble just seems to come my way—

unbidden, unwelcome, unneeded.

—Frank Sinatra, 1971

Chapter OneGlendale, California

January 1962

Frank Sinatra handed the congressman the bottle of Jack Daniel’s.

“These places give me the heebie-jeebies,” Sinatra said, looking around the graveyard. “What about you, Charlie?”

Congressman Charlie Marder paused as he surveyed the small group circling the makeshift bar: stacks of paper cups and bourbon on top of a marble crypt.

“Sure,” Charlie said. “I mean, who likes graveyards?”

“Graverobbers,” said Peter Lawford. A young woman laughed. Her friend, who was a model or actress of some kind, rolled her eyes. They’d joined up somewhere along the way.

“How about maggots?” added Dean Martin in his rich baritone, prompting Ewws from the ladies. Earlier, Charlie had asked his wife, Margaret, if she’d caught the girls’ names. “Betty and Veronica,” she’d replied. “Or might as well be.”

The Rat Pack—which tonight included Sinatra, Martin, Lawford, Sammy Davis Jr., and Shirley MacLaine—and their assorted hangers-on had come to Forest Lawn Memorial Park not to mourn the dead but to rage against death, to celebrate, to drink and be merry. Just a couple of hours earlier, at Puccini—the restaurant Sinatra co-owned with Lawford—they had received word that an old acquaintance, Salvatore Lucania (better known as mobster Charles “Lucky” Luciano), had dropped dead of a heart attack in Naples. It put them in a reflective mood. The news was especially disconcerting because they’d gathered at the restaurant to toast the memory of innovative TV comic Ernie Kovacs, who’d been killed in a car accident two weeks earlier.

It had been pouring the night of Kovacs’s crash, but the skies were clear now. At this moment, before dawn, the heavens twinkled with scattered stars, and the lush grass of Forest Lawn Memorial Park glistened with dew.

“Fill ’er up, Smoky!” said Sinatra to Sammy Davis Jr., using the nickname that was a nod to his four-pack-a-day habit. Sinatra placed his empty glass on the marble crypt in front of Davis, who was holding the bottle of Jack Daniel’s at that moment.

As Davis poured the bourbon, ash from his cigarette drifted onto the rim of Sinatra’s glass. Davis glanced over to see if Sinatra had noticed, then quickly dusted it off. “Clark Gable’s over there,” Sammy said to no one in particular, gesturing up a hill.

“Where?” asked Betty. “I don’t see anyone.”

“He’s been dead for two years, ya quin,” snarled Sinatra.

“Now, Pope,” cautioned Martin.

“Unless I’m mistaken,” said Margaret, “wife number five arranged to have Gable buried next to wife number three.”

“Interred,” said Charlie.

Sinatra rolled his eyes. He’d turned forty-six last month and what once might have played as impish now registered as old-man cranky. The sharp light from the streetlamp near them emphasized the crags in his weathered face, the scar on his neck, the onset of sagging jowls.

“Learn to read a room,” Margaret jokingly advised Charlie.

“Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn,” he replied.

“Classy broad, that Kay Gable,” Davis said about Gable’s fifth and final wife.

“She gave birth to their kid at the same hospital where Clark croaked weeks before,” Martin recalled.

“Look at the memory on Daig,” said Sinatra.

“Ring-a-ding-ding,” said Martin, grabbing the bottle of Jack and taking a swig. “Who wants another?”

“I do.” MacLaine, elfin-looking in her pixie cut and bright red lipstick, raised a hand. “Why would she want her husband to be buried next to another woman?”

“Interred,” Lawford drawled.

“Carole Lombard was the love of his life,” explained Davis. “Kay knew that.”

“Too bright,” Sinatra growled. He was glaring at a streetlamp that cast a punishing white light, washing them all out so it was almost as if they were in a grainy black-and-white

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