Sanders wrote Sharon Tate 'mainly because of the mystery that still surrounds the close of her life,' but it raises more questions than it answers ... Sharon Tate: A Life is a decent project, dutiful and worthy of acknowledgment; as a read, it has moments, just not coherence. It also seems to predict its own failure, which is ethical, in a way, and honest—the only true outcome of a resurrection attempt.
As a biography, Sharon Tate is thorough if not especially revelatory. Unfortunately, so much has been published about Tate already — including a photo book by her sister just two years ago — that there is little Sanders can add. For similar reasons, it falters as a true-crime book.
This strange book serves as a sort of de facto, if sadly perfunctory, update to The Family, Sanders’s magnum opus on the case ... Sharon Tate is a sadly faint echo of the lifework to which Sanders has dedicated so much time and deep thought: by page four Sanders has already written 'It is not known' and 'It is thought,' and the book never gets much more forceful than that.
[Tate] was on the brink of becoming known in her chosen field but will forever be known instead for her death, not her life. Sanders’ biography endeavors to change that, but as the author more or less admits, his hill is a steep one to climb. Tate kept no diaries and wrote few letters. At one point, Sanders resorts to using a recent posting on the Tate family website by one of Sharon’s long ago friends to fill a gap in the timeline. Repeatedly, when interviewing people who knew the starlet, he is confronted by the realization that those people can’t remember.