The Murder of Sonny Liston
On December 30th, 1970, at the age of 38, former heavyweight champion Sonny Liston died from what Las Vegas police suspected was a heroin overdose.
When police arrived, they found a one-ounce balloon on Sonny's nightstand but the coroner quickly labelled Sonny's passing as death by natural causes. To this day, Liston's death hovers over Las Vegas and the sports world, leaving unanswered questions about his ties to powerful boxing promoters, billionaire hoteliers, mob kingpins and shadowy drug lords.
Reviving boxing's most infamous cold case to work out what really happened on that night in December over forty years ago, in The Murder of Sonny Liston: A Story of Fame, Heroin, Boxing & Las Vegas Shaun Assael examines the last mysterious year of Liston's life against the backdrop of a pivotal year in the history of Las Vegas. 1970 was the year that the mob turned a sleepy desert oasis into a cathedral of corporate gambling. Glittering new towers were rising along the strip, while race riots were devastating the black community, creating two very different cities for Sonny Liston to disappear into.
With key aspects of Liston's life previously ignored or glossed over, Assael takes a fresh look at Liston's complicated life, getting to the bottom of one of America's most enduring mysteries, while painting a stunning portrait of mob-run Las Vegas in the 1970s.
In the media
Readers of James Ellroy's Underworld USA Trilogy will feel very much at home.
Dan Jones Sunday Times
Well researched and as gripping as the best noir fiction.
Sunday Times Crime Club
The Murder of Sonny Liston is a classic of the genre . . . The cast of characters in these 303 pages is a casino-packed assembly of the showbiz stars of a neon era who performed on that fabled Strip, heroes of the prize-ring, shadowy figures of a Mafia underworld, money-grubbing hangers-on, showgirls, straight and crooked cops.
Jeff Powell Daily Mail
Writing with the flair of a mystery writer and the attention to detail of an investigative journalist . . . Assael dissects the suspicious death of former heavyweight boxing champion Sonny Liston . . . The engrossing depiction of Sin City's corrupt cops, malevolent mobsters, and drug dens follows in the footsteps of Nick Tosches's The Devil and Sonny Liston . . . Assael's journey into the seedy underworld of the Las Vegas's past is worth the ride.