Dirty John and Other True Stories of Outlaws and Outsiders
A collection of newspaper stories by award-winning Los Angeles Times reporter Christopher Goffard—including “Dirty John,” the basis for the hit podcast and the upcoming Bravo scripted series starring Connie Britton and Eric Bana.
Since its release in fall 2017, the “Dirty John” podcast—about a conman who terrorizes a Southern California family—has been downloaded more than 20 million times, and will soon premiere as a scripted drama on Bravo starring Connie Britton and Eric Bana. The story, which also ran as a print series in the Los Angeles Times, wasn’t unfamiliar terrain to its writer, Christopher Goffard. Over two decades at newspapers from Florida to California, Goffard has reported probingly on the shadowy, unseen corners of society. This book gathers together for the first time “Dirty John” and the rest of his very best work.
“The $40 Lawyer” provides an inside account of a young public defender’s rookie year in the legal trenches. “Framed” offers an unblinking chronicle of suburban mayhem (and is currently being developed by Netflix as a film starring Julia Roberts). A man wrongly imprisoned for rape, train-riding runaways in love, a Syrian mother forced to leave her children in order to save them, a boy who grows up to become a cop as a way of honoring his murdered sister, another boy who struggles with the knowledge that his father is on death row: these stories reveal the complexities of human nature, showing people at both their most courageous and their most flawed.
Goffard shared in the Los Angeles Times’ Pulitzer Prize for Public Service in 2011 and has twice been a Pulitzer finalist for feature writing. This collection—a must-read for fans of both true-crime and first-rate narrative nonfiction—underscores his reputation as one of today’s most original journalistic voices.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Christopher Goffard’s L.A. Times series “Dirty John”—a sensational true tale of romance gone wrong—inspired a bingeable podcast and a forthcoming TV show. The Pulitzer-winning journalist’s anthology proves he has plenty more jaw-dropping stories in his back pocket. Goffard—who became a reporter because of his drive to “know more than it was strictly polite to ask”—introduces us to everyday people caught up in extreme circumstances. He reveals their stories with empathy and careful detail, immersing us in gripping-yet-tender snapshots of modern life.
Pulitzer Prize finalist Goffard (Snitch Jacket) succeeds in evoking the palpable struggles of the subjects of his 15 stories (the term he prefers over articles for reasons he explains in his introduction), most of which previously appeared in the Los Angeles Times. The title entry, which inspired a TV series, is the longest a grim true-crime tale of the tragic consequences of a lonely middle-aged woman falling for someone unsuitable. Texan Debra Newell met John Meehan through an online dating site in 2014, and, despite some initial reservations and her adult children's objections, let him move in with her; they later married. The tale unfolds like a slow-motion train wreck, as it becomes increasingly clear that Meehan is bad news, before it ends violently. Goffard makes Newell's denials of reality understandable, and he's also adept at making the sad stories of his other subjects sympathetic. In "Riders," Adam Kuntz, who leads an itinerant life on the rails and resists family attempts to ground him, is especially memorable, persisting with his dangerous, insecure lifestyle even after it claims the life of someone dear to him. Goffard consistently finds the humanity in everyone as he exposes readers to darker aspects of American life.)