By Caitlin Rother
Rating: 4/5 Stairs
Admission: I am kind of obsessed with true crime (shout out to my fellow Murderinos out there!) and have been for decades. I don’t know what it is, but true crime has me hooked. Documentaries, books, and – more recently – podcasts. Audiobooks are now available on NetGalley, and I was very excited to get early access to listen to Death on Ocean Boulevard, which takes a deep dive into the death of Rebecca Zahau. (Was it suicide or murder?)
I am listening to audiobooks more and more, and true crime audiobooks are one of my favorite genres. Death on Ocean Boulevard has a good narrator, and listening to it felt like I was watching a documentary. This book is well written and very engaging to listen to. Right from the introduction, Ms. Rother pulls you into the bizarre death at the Spreckels Mansion in Coronado, California.
I have seen several documentaries on the Zahau case, and this book intrigued me right from the beginning. Death on Ocean Boulevard is well researched, and through her writing we learn that Ms. Rother has followed this case from very early on. She paints a vivid picture of the days leading up to the death, but also the backstory of the victim and those closest to her. While I knew most of the details of the case thanks to the documentaries I’ve seen, the backstories were something I hadn’t heard before, and I think this knowledge does muddy the suicide vs. murder waters even more.
I appreciated that Ms. Rother ultimately never makes her own judgement on whether Rebecca Zahau killed herself or was murdered. Honestly, I think we probably will never know the answer to that. But she lays out the facts we do have, leaving both possibilities open, giving the reader the chance to sort through the facts and make their own determination.
If you like true crime and have never heard of the tragic (and bizarre) death of Rebecca Zahau, this is a great book to read. If you’re like me and have seen some of the documentaries about her death, you probably already know most of this story, but there are some new pieces here if you want to dive in again.
Many thanks to NetGalley and Tantor Audio for providing me with a copy of this audiobook.