True Story Murder, Memoir, Mea Culpa by Michael Finkel
Michael Finkel was a writer for the New York Times Magazine. He used to travel all over the world. His articles were always well received. One day, instead of basing a story on an actual person, he creates a composite of several people and Michael is caught. He is fired from the New York Times for using fictitious information. Michael waits in Montana for the fall-out from this event, but one reporter calls sooner than expected. He asks Michael what he thinks of the whole deal, and Michael, a little confused on what deal the reporter is talking about, asks, “What deal”?
The deal is that a man named Chris Longo murdered his family and went to Mexico and said he was Michael Finkel. A murderer had been living as Michael Finkel without Michael Finkel knowing about it.
Michael looks into the murders and soon finds some grizzly details. He decides to contact Chris Longo in jail. The two write back and forth and end up speaking on the phone. The conversation goes as far as to become a friendship. Michael finds Chris very smart, even meeting with him face-to-face at one point. Chris is very smooth, or so it seems. Michael wonders how he could have killed his family, but little by little, Chris just seems too smooth.
The fact of the matter is that Chris’ wife, and three children are dead. Their bodies were disposed of in a river, two of them in suitcases and two weighted down with rocks in pillow cases. Chris Longo had committed check fraud and theft. He had committed identity theft. He had dragged his family from one place the other. Ultimately, his family ended up dead.
Michael has his moments where he thinks that Chris maybe didn’t murder his family, but he also wants to know why. He didn’t imagine that he would get sucked into a friendship with a murderer. Chris has dazzled Michael, just as he had many people before. From this situation, Michael is able to write a book and move on with his life after being fired.
What I liked
This book was interesting. Some of these true crime stories are quite entertaining. They definitely keep you on the edge of your toes.
I don’t necessarily like this, but I think it goes on the plus-side–this book depicts a snake. What do I mean by snake? A snake, is an animal, true, but a snake is also a person who does everything they can to look good to the outside world, but they treat the people they’re close to, like dirt. Chris Longo was one of those people. He appeared wonderful to the world’s eye, but in truth, he was a low-down, dirty snake. He murdered his family. What else did he do to them? Was he physically abusive? Was he sexually abusive? Did he rape his wife? Was he mentally abusive? Did he throw out their things? He lied to them at every turn. He took away their stability in life. He didn’t provide for them in the manner that he could have, had he just been a normal nice guy. Nobody on the outside knew the terrible things Chris did to his family.
This is in the “like” section because it’s a good example of people like this. I was married to a person like this, not that he was a murderer, because he wasn’t, but he had the same duality. He appeared to the world one way, while being completely different behind closed doors. I’ve also come across one or two more people like this. We need to know about people like this, so we can avoid people like this. Honestly, what are they offering anyone? If all they’re going to do is treat you like dirt if you get close to them and make out like they’re a god to the world, what point is there in being in their life? None.
Undoubtedly, if Chris’ wife had known this about him in the beginning, she never would have been with him. If she had been secure enough to be on her own with her children, she would have left, but as it is, she was murdered before that could happen.
What I didn’t like
I’m not particularly sorry for Michael. You write something false to a major media outlet and you’re probably going to get burned. The truth is an important thing.
I’m not sorry for Chris either. I don’t know the status of his life, whether he is still alive or not. If you murder your family, you deserve to be in prison and put on a very public trial as a result.
I don’t like Chris because he is a snake. It’s disgusting. The disgusting factor is why this book sells though. People are intrigued that this seemingly loved man could murder his entire family.
If someone could invent Snake-away for snake-people, that would be awesome, then we wouldn’t have situations like Chris Longo’s.
Do you think Chris deserves to die?
Has Michael redeemed himself with this book?