A True Story of Murder, Blackmail, and Real Estate Greed in 1979 Los Angeles 

"They huddled at the base of the stairs. Panting steam. Packing bad intentions. Above their heads, a patch of soft light glowed through the sliding-glass window outside the master bedroom of the two-story home where two people lay in bed. People oblivious to approaching invaders ..."


Late-seventies Los Angeles was rampant with killers and shady characters, but all the go-getters at Space Matters saw was possibility. Richard Kasparov was handsome and charismatic; his younger associate, Jerry Schneiderman, brilliant and nerdy. When the pair hired a veteran contractor to oversee construction, the space planning firm they operated out of a hip mansion in LA’s Miracle Mile district appeared poised to transform the boundless skyline into their jackpot.

After the promising team imploded, however, the orderly lines on their blueprints succumbed to treachery and secrets. To get even, one of the ex-partners launched a murder-for-profit corporation using, among other peculiar sorts, a bantam-sized epileptic with a deadeye shot and a cross-dressing sidekick. The hapless criminals required a comical number of attempts to execute their first target

Once they did, on a rainy night in the San Fernando Valley, the surviving founder of Space Matters was thrown into a pressure cooker existence out of a Coen Brothers movie. Threatened for money he didn’t have, he donned a disguise, survived a heart-pounding encounter at the La Brea Tar Pits, and relied on an ex-Israeli mercenary for protection. In the end, he had to outfox a glowering murderer, while asking if you can ever really know anyone in a town where blood soaks the land.

In The Darkest Glare, Chip Jacobs recounts a spectacular, noir-ish, true-crime saga from one of the deadliest eras in American history. You’ll never gaze out windows into the dark again.

Included as a bonus is an original true crime short from the same unhinged era. In “Paul & Chuck,” a flashy, crusading attorney wages war against the messianic leader of a bloodthirsty cult determined to teach the world to stay away.

—(An) engrossingly bizarre tale of a murder plot within Los Aneles real estate circles…Jacobs ably ably captures the seamy backdrop of 1970s Southern California via the strange saga of…(an assassination) improbably germinated…in an ill-fated partnership in an upstart space-planning firm.” The mastermind “recruited hapless underworld figures for (his) ambitious…(payback) scheme…After numerous bungled attempts, which Jacobs plays for human and tension…gunmen succeeded…’I’ve killed before…and gotten away with it,’ the ringleader warns his next target. ‘And I’ll do it again—with you’…An entertaining true-crime period piece built around a chillingly odd sociopathic villain.”—Kirkus Review

— “This entertaining…true crime narrative…spotlights two ambitious L.A. real estate developers in the late 1970s.” After the pair hired a “rough-edged construction supervisor…what follows is both horrifying and hilarious, as (one of them) tries to organize an assassination-for-hire team…Though undoubtedly odd, this (story) still manages to fascinate.” — Publishers Weekly 

— “Jacobs’ chops are on brilliant display in The Darkest Glare, a delightfully off-kilter true-crime tale. The prose is intimate, darkly funny, and crisp as he follows. Jacobs’ ear for a good story is pitch perfect, and he tells it with all the smoggy pastel colors of post-noir LA. The Darkest Glare isn’t an old song in a new key, but an entirely new song about crime, fear, and a weird kind of redemption that could only happen in the general vicinity of Hollywood. Jacobs is a genuine writer, not a wannabe scribbler.” — Ron Franscell, bestselling author of The Darkest Night

— “In Chip Jacobs true-crime, The Darkest Glare we are whisked back to LA’s Kodachrome world of the Seventies. Through the eyes of the protagonist, Jerry, the “bright colors and greens of summer” quickly change to the real life black-and-whites of mayhem and murder. But, this is not just another Hollywood Whodunit. In the end we find it is really about one man’s search and struggle to find his own personal truths and redemption. Well written and highly recommended.” – Steve Hodel, bestselling author, Black Dahlia Avenger: A Genius for Murder

— “Jacobs delivers a seductive tour of an L.A. rife with murder-for-hire plots, political corruption and sociopathic schemes. Against this backdrop the young Schneiderman comes of age, to ultimately emerge as the last man standing. A terrific book – I couldn’t put it down! — Stephen Jay Schwartz,  bestselling author of Boulevard

— “Chip Jacobs uses his boundless reporter’s energy and well-honed sense of Southern California to tell a gripping tale of serial mayhem and the curious life of Jerry Schneiderman. It’s reassuring to see the right writer was paying attention.” – David Willman, Los Angeles Times Pulitzer winning investigative reporter and author of The Mirage Man: Bruce Irvins, the Anthrax Attacks, and America’s Rush to War

 

Coming!

Interesting Documents … 

— L.A. County District Attorney Memo about Protecting Informant From the First Hitman-Turned Mastermind in Prison (November 1981) – Page 1Page 2

— L.A. County District Attorney Memo to Give Mastermind the Death Penalty as a Special Circumstance Murder (August 1979)

— Felony Complaint Post-Murder of the Two Principals

Valley News Story from March 28, 1979

— Newspaper Story on the First Murder that Ended with a Wrongful Acquittal  (from Inland Empire paper; September 23, 1977)