Death on Ocean Boulevard: Inside the Coronado Mansion Case

Citadel. Apr. 2021. 368p. ISBN 9780806540894. pap. $16.95. CRIME
Rother (Lost Girls) chronicles the confusing, dramatic twists and turns in the 2011 death of Rebecca Zahau, who was found hanging from a balcony in her boyfriend’s mansion in Coronado, CA. Circumstances surrounding the death were odd, Rother writes. Two days earlier, Max Shacknai, the six-year-old son of Zahau’s boyfriend (Medicis Pharmaceutical CEO Jonah Shacknai), had fallen down a staircase, and several days later he died of his injuries. And though Zahau was found nude, bound and gagged, her death was ruled a suicide; her mother, Pari Zahau, eventually brought a successful wrongful death lawsuit against Jonah Shacknai’s brother, Adam, who police had briefly investigated in Zahau’s death. The Shacknai family had a variety of theories about Max and Zahau’s deaths, including one posited by Jonah Shacknai that hitmen were trying to get to him, and that the crime was covered up. Readers will quickly understand why this case was featured on more than seven television documentaries. Other bizarre details include a sexual harassment suit against Jonah Shacknai by multiple former employees, a medium who conducted an energy reading on Rebecca Zahau’s bed at the request of a curious private investigator, and threatening emails that Rother received from Adam Shacknai. Deftly weaving together all these plot points, Rother’s narrative is well written and empathetic.
VERDICT An absorbing chronicle of a bizarre story, this is the perfect addition for true crime sections.
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