Denial of Justice: Dorothy Kilgallen, Abuse of Power, and the Most Compelling JFK Assassination Investigation in History
by Mark Shaw
Post Hill Press (2018)
I found this book a big disappointment. Over the last decade Shaw has compiled a massive amount of evidence related to journalist Dorothy Kilgallen’s suspicious 1965 death (see The Dorothy Kilgallen Story/). His evidence includes the complete transcript of Jack Ruby’s trial, which mysteriously went missing for 50 years. That being said, Shaw sorely needs a editor. The style in which Denial of Justice is written is extremely convoluted, repetitive, and filled with maudlin, hyberbolic and sensationalist prose that has no place in an investigative expose.
One of the main weaknesses of the book is its failure to incorporate the immense body of academic research into the JFK assassination. Calling Kilgallen’s investigation into the JFK assassination “the most compelling in history” is pretty silly, when you contrast it with New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison’s efforts to prosecute CIA co-conspirator Clay Shaw in 1967. Kilgallen was essentially a gossip columnist who covered Broadway stars, murder trials, celebrity weddings, and political scandals.It wasn’t her investigative prowess that posed a threat to the who assassinated JFK – it was her prominent public profile and influence over popular opinion.*
Nowhere in the book does Shaw provide a clear timeline of events immediately following Kilgallen’s death on Sept 17, 1965. This is divided up between four long rambling chapters dedicated to the the personal history and psychological motivations of potential suspects.
There is no question the actions of the NYPD, FBI and New York medical examiner’s of the day of Kilgallen’s death were highly suspect. As best as I can reconstruct, Kilgallen’s butler James Clement was the first to discover Kilgallen’s body a little before 9 am. He found her, still dressed in the cocktail dress she wore the night before, in the third floor bathroom. We know this indirectly from information he related to his wife and daughter.
By 9 am, someone had moved the body from the bathroom to the master bedroom. This is where her hairdresser, who had come to do her hair for an appointment at her son’s school, found her. By this time, her dress and underwear had been removed, and she was dressed in a fancy peignoir. However she was still wearing her hairpiece, false eyelashes and full make-up.
For some reason, the police weren’t notified until 12.30. The FBI barged in before the police arrived, seizing multiple boxes of files that included her notes on Jack Ruby’s trial, her two interviews with him, and the information she obtained from sources in the Dallas police and a recent visit to New Orleans. Random House had agreed to publish a book she was writing about her investigation, which she claimed would “crack the case wide open.”
The NYPD detective assigned to investigating her death wasn’t notified until 3 pm
Her autopsy report concludes she died from “accidental overdose,” despite blood tests revealing she had ingested the equivalent of 15-20 100 mg tablets of Seconal, in addition to the presence of alcohol, Tuinal and Nembutal.
*This related mainly to her 15-year stint on the TV game show “What’ My Line?”