An Unexplained Death: The True Story of a Body at the Belvedere

Holt. Nov. 2018. 288p. photos. notes. ISBN 9781250169143. $28; ebk. ISBN 9781250169150. CRIME
Brottman's (humanities, Maryland Inst. Coll. of Art; The Maximum Security Book Club) interesting ideas and thoughts form an inconsistent narrative that jumps from hotel history to unsolved mystery to memoir and back again. The author starts with her discovery of a missing-persons poster and from there becomes not obsessed (she makes this clear) but devoted to seeking of the truth about the disappearance of Rey Rivera, who was found dead on the property of the historic Belvedere Hotel. The police rule it a suicide, but Brottman keeps digging, uncovering a potential conspiracy involving corporate fraud, millionaires, and warnings. Throughout the investigation, she sprinkles in her own reservations about her ability to be socially invisible to others, and how the Belvedere has a long history of suicides, some questionable.
VERDICT Both true crime and hotel history, this book would have benefitted from concentrating purely on either the disappearance of Rivera or the hotel. For fans of James Renner's True Crime Addict and Walter Kirn's Blood Will Out.
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