A New York Times–bestselling author and former Los Angeles Times reporter chronicles the marriage between a Christian woman and an ex-con that ends in murder.
When Carol Montecalvo began writing to a man in prison through a program at her church, she considered it her Christian duty. But the letters soon became her lifeline, something she actually looked forward to sending and receiving. She fell in love with the man behind the letters and just before Dan was released, they wed in the prison chapel. Their marriage lasted nine years, until the fateful night when Dan stoically called 911 to report his wife’s murder.
With a half-million dollar insurance policy riding on his wife’s death, and a string of adulterous affairs in his past, Dan is the most obvious suspect. But is this former felon really guilty? Or could he actually be a grieving widower, in the wrong place at the wrong time?
In this powerful true crime account of the gruesome murder and sensational trial that followed, New York Times–bestselling author Karen Kingsbury weaves an emotional story that leaves readers guessing until the final, harrowing conclusion.
This generally smoothly written but ultimately unsatisfying book by Los Angeles Times reporter Kingsbury (Missy's Murder) relates the 1988 murder of Carol Montecalvo, a divorcee who married an ex-convict and was shot on the eve of a trip aimed to save her marriage. While husband Dan Montecalvo was the initial suspect--with his voice oddly uninflected while talking to an emergency operator and his eyes dry when being told of the death--Burbank police had to drop charges before gaining new evidence and re-arresting him. Dan's insistence on helping to represent himself served to seal his conviction; there was also strong evidence against him, including large gambling debts and high-value insurance policies on his wife. The narrative occasionally bogs down with biographical sketches of the detectives and lawyers, but its larger problem is conceptual: early on Kinsbury introduces the Montecalvos' neighbor Suzan Brown, a drug dealer, harborer of criminals and sometime mental patient. Brown's statements are given more credence as the book continues; finally, she admits that her associates killed Carol, though police discount it. The author owes the reader a greater effort to distinguish whether or not the authorities found the real killer.