Gregory Kirschling
May 23, 2005 AT 04:00 AM EDT

True Story

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Michael Finkel
publisher
HarperCollins
genre
Nonfiction, Memoir

We gave it a B-

On the eve of the day in 2002 when The New York Times effectively ended his journalism career by exposing the Jayson Blair-style fictions in his Times Magazine story on cocoa workers in West Africa, Finkel coincidentally received ”the journalistic equivalent of a winning lottery ticket.” He learned of a man named Christian Longo who’d allegedly murdered his wife and three kids before hightailing it to Mexico and posing as a well-known journalist — namely, Michael Finkel of The New York Times. Yes, this is yet more proof that truth is always stranger than fiction in True Story. But there’s a basic problem with Finkel’s otherwise smoothly written account of the two men’s intertwining and declining fortunes as Finkel becomes Longo’s sole friend as the latter faces trial: Ultimately, you just don’t dredge up enough sympathy for either of these guys.

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