The improbable but true story of a man accused of murdering his entire family and the journalist he impersonated while on the run
In 2001, Mike Finkel was on top of the world: young, talented, and recently promoted to a plum job at the New York Times Magazine. Then he made an irremediable slip: Under extraordinary pressure to keep producing blockbuster stories, he fabricated parts of an article. Caught and excommunicated from the Times, he retreated to his home in Montana, swearing off any contact with the media. When the phone rang, though, he couldn’t resist. At the other end was a reporter from the San Francisco Chronicle, whom Finkel congratulated on being the first in what was sure to be a long and bloodthirsty line of media watchdogs. The reporter was puzzled.
In Waldport, Oregon, Christian Longo had killed his young wife and three children and dumped their bodies into the bay. With a stolen credit card, he fled south, making his way to Cancun, where he lived for several weeks under an assumed identity: Michael Finkel, journalist for the New York Times.
True Story is the tale of a bizarre and convoluted collision between fact and fiction, and a meditation on the slippery nature of truth. When Finkel contacts Longo in jail, the two men begin a close and complex relationship. Over the course of a year, they exchange long letters and weekly phone calls, playing out a cat-and-mouse game in which it’s never quite clear if the pursuer is Finkel or Longo—or both. Finkel’s dogged pursuit of the true story pays off only at the end, in the gripping trial scenes in which Longo, after a lifetime of deception, finally tells the whole truth. Or so he says.
Finkel reads his own tale of crime and circumstance with a plain, workaday tone ideal for the story of an average journalist caught up in a web of murder. Once a hotshot writer for the New York Times magazine, Finkel was fired for blending fact and fiction in a 2002 story about child slavery in Mali. At the same time, he discovered that a wanted criminal named Christian Longo, who had murdered his entire family, had been passing himself off as Finkel. Blending the disaster of his own creation with the one he finds himself accidentally a part of, Finkel's reading captures the right tone of mixed guilt and incredulousness, as if he simply could not believe his odd luck. While his is not a trained voice, Finkel ably retells the story of his fall from grace, and his bizarre relationship with the Finkel-manque he discovers. He finds the right tone for each twist of his unusual story, from disappointment at his own lack of professional good sense, to appreciation of the second chance granted him as a writer by the surprise intrusion of Longo's sordid story into his own life. Simultaneous release with the HarperCollins hardcover (Reviews, Mar. 14). Read Web exclusive audio reviews at www.publishersweekly.com.
Amazing Book!! Highly Recommend!
This book is beautifully written. It grabs your attention instantly. The words are superbly chosen and placed, the description is super rich, and the overall feel of this book is quite different (in a good way).
Simply remarkable !!