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Book on deadly Beverly Hills Supper Club fire finding wider audience

Author: Research points to arson as cause

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SOUTHGATE, Ky. - Bob Webster didn’t want to write a book about the deadly Beverly Hills Supper Club fire that killed 165 people in 1977.

But after doing a little research, Webster said, he felt compelled to.

“If the story in this book is true,” he said, “this is the worst case of mass murder in U.S. history – if you take away war and terrorism.”

First published in May 2012, The Beverly Hills Supper Club Fire: The Untold Story Behind Kentucky’s Worst Tragedy, has sold more than 2,000 copies and was recently printed in a paperback edition.

Webster’s book is the culmination of five years of research, digging back through local historical accounts, investigative records and interviews with former employees of the Southgate supper club.

He’ll be discussing his research Tuesday Aug. 6 at the Campbell County Public Library’s Cold Spring Branch. Seating is limited for the 7 p.m. discussion. Registration is required.

In an interview with WCPO Digital, Webster said he’s convinced that the official cause of the fire – faulty aluminum wiring – is not true.

“After five years of research, and we went through everything, every piece of evidence points to arson,” he said. “Exactly who gave the order and exactly who was involved, I don’t think we’ll ever know. But there’s clear indication that the state was involved in some sort of cover up.”

The theory of arson and a high-level cover up is not new. David Brock, who was an 18-year-old bus boy at the club in 1977, has for years talked about the suspicious men he saw the day of the fire. He has pushed for state officials to re-open the investigation.

'I Don't Write Fiction'

Brock was the person who approached Webster about writing the book because Webster has written other books about local history.

Webster was skeptical at first, telling Brock, “This sounds really fascinating, but I don’t write fiction.”

After doing some initial research, though, Webster became convinced the story had to be told.

Northern Kentucky readers have been fascinated. Webster spoke to a capacity crowd at Campbell County Public Library’s Newport Branch in May, leading the library to schedule Tuesday’s talk.

“I’ve talked to many, many of the family members of victims who died in the fire,” he said. “They all say the same thing: ‘Thank you. We always wanted to know the truth.’”

A book signing and sale will follow Tuesday’s program. Online registration was full as of Aug. 2, but people can register on a waiting list for the event at http://www.cc-pl.org/programs/view?id=11290 .

The book is available at the two Cincinnati Costco locations, Joseph-Beth Booksellers and online at Amazon and Barnes and Noble . Saratoga Press, LLC, expects the books to be available at two local Sam’s Clubs starting this month, too, said Angie Rice, who is in charge of marketing the book for Saratoga, the Dayton, Ky., company that published the book.

Copyright 2013 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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