Rejected by Hollywood, a disillusioned writer takes his script to the streets of LA and Marilyn Monroe, Jesus Christ and Martin Luther King are the first to die. A rookie female cop has a theory but will anyone in Homicide listen?
From the novel, Killing the Dead by Paul Ferguson
Working as a valet car park attendant in a popular L.A. restaurant, Joe Tubbs dreams of being a star, but his attempts to act and write are initially poor and end in rejection, ridicule and eventually studio blacklisting. When he finally hits on a brilliant idea for a film script no one in the business will look at it because of his history of failing and his drug induced aggressive behaviour. Desperate for anyone to read his work, he slips a copy into film maker, Phil Weinberg’s briefcase, but when Weinberg finally tracks him down to make a deal, it’s too late.
As more rejections follow, Joe is encouraged to find another way of getting his script ‘out there’. After conning a Bureau of Vital Statistics employee into letting him use her computer, he arms himself with confidential and personal information on selected L.A. residents and goes about bringing his script, ‘Killing the Dead’, to life. Within hours he murders three individuals whose only crime is to have a tenuous link to a famous dead person. Marilyn Delaney is found lying naked on her bed following an overdose of barbiturates, Emmet van Sykes, a down and out Jesus freak is nailed to a cross and Marty King, L.A.’s most flamboyant used car salesman is shot by a high powered rifle while standing on his balcony.
With bodies piling up and no leads, Leigh Turner, a rookie female detective, looks into the Delaney case and discovers that Mrs Delaney’s maiden name is Monroe. Once she learns that Marty King’s real name is Martin Luther King she puts the pieces of the puzzle together and announces that a serial killer is on the loose.
When his story breaks, Joe basks in the publicity while panic hits the streets and ordinary people with names like Lennon, Kennedy and Diana cry out for police protection. Another night brings another brutal murder by the man nicknamed the ‘Celebrity Killer’ with the re enactment of the chilling shower scene at The Bates Motel. With the city in self imposed lock down and pressure mounting from the Mayor, lead detective Dan Scott knows it’s impossible to protect everyone so he focuses on who he thinks will be the next victim, JFK.
Joe, however, has ideas of his own. Not content with terrorising the public he turns his attentions on the police and burns Joan of Ark at the stake before turning what should have been a trap, into the ‘execution by cop’ of an innocent man. Dan finally gets a break when he spots Joe fleeing the scene. He follows him home and enters through the basement where he finds Weinberg with head shaven, gold tooth extracted and a hose from a car exhaust taped to his mouth. Frightened and angry, Dan confronts the killer. With no where to run, sirens wailing in the distance and Leigh kicking down the door, death finally comes to Joe.