Picks and Pans Review: The Immortals

updated 10/19/1992 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 10/19/1992 01:00AM

by Michael Korda

The latest in a slew of Marilyn Monroe books, this engrossing docunovel from the author of Queenie and Curtain blends fact with fiction to recap the oft-told tale of the blond bombshell and her affairs with John F. and Robert Kennedy.

According to Korda, it's literally love at first sight for Sen. John Kennedy and Marilyn when they meet at a swank Hollywood party in the late '50s. Although both are married (he to Jackie, she to Joe DiMaggio), they begin a dangerous liaison and, despite the risks, continue it into his presidency. When the stakes get too high for JFK—Marilyn gets too demanding and possessive and the FBI, as well as the mob, have heard about the romance from strategically placed listening devices—he asks brother Bobby to break the news to Marilyn. Straitlaced Bobby not only obliges, he falls in love with the wild star himself. But when she gets pregnant and threatens to go public with her relationship to both brothers, the affair abruptly ends. Soon after, a dejected, heartbroken Marilyn takes her own life.

Although he endorses the L.A. County Coroner's official finding that Monroe killed herself, Korda exercises creative license to the limit, recounting one sexy between-the-sheets scene after another and playing up the Kennedys' reported dealing with the mob. Monroe buffs who subscribe to other theories may take issue with some of the chronology and the explanation of her death. The uninitiated—for whom the line between fact and fiction will be all but blurred—may simply tire of repetitive accounts of Marilyn popping pills and the FBI's bugging every room that Strawhead (Monroe's code name) visited. Still, despite the somewhat controversial interpretation of history, The Immortals makes fascinating, juicy reading and paints a visceral portrait of these larger-than-life people. (Poseidon Press, $20)

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