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True Story: Murder, Memoir, Mea Culpa | [Michael Finkel]

True Story: Murder, Memoir, Mea Culpa

In the haunting tradition of Joe McGinniss's Fatal Vision and Mikal Gilmore's Shot in the Heart, True Story: Murder, Memoir, Mea Culpa weaves a spellbinding tale of murder, love, and deceit with a deeply personal inquiry into the slippery nature of truth.
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Audible Editor Reviews

In this nightmare of identity theft, Oregon mass murderer Chris Longo (he killed his wife and children) escapes to Mexico where he assumes the identity of his favorite journalist, Michael Finkel, fired from The New York Times Magazine for falsifying facts in an article. After Longo is recaptured and jailed, Finkel gets in touch with him and begins a bizarre relationship. Finkel, as narrator, is matchless, telling all (both his story and Longo's) in an intimate, confidential voice, exposing himself and the killer as a mysterious, egocentric, and not always believable duo. Sometimes the explicit explanations slow the tempo, but Finkel manages to drive the story to a compelling climax.

Publisher's Summary

In the haunting tradition of Joe McGinniss's Fatal Vision and Mikal Gilmore's Shot in the Heart, True Story: Murder, Memoir, Mea Culpa weaves a spellbinding tale of murder, love, and deceit with a deeply personal inquiry into the slippery nature of truth.

The story begins in February of 2002, when a reporter in Oregon contacts New York Times Magazine writer Michael Finkel with a startling piece of news. A young, highly intelligent man named Christian Longo, on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted list for killing his entire family, has recently been captured in Mexico, where he'd taken on a new identity...Michael Finkel of The New York Times.

The next day, on page A-3 of the Times, comes another bit of troubling news: a note, written by the paper's editors, explaining that Finkel has falsified parts of an investigative article and has been fired. This unlikely confluence sets the stage for a bizarre and intense relationship. After Longo's arrest, the only journalist the accused murderer will speak with is the real Michael Finkel. And as the months until Longo's trial tick away, the two men talk for dozens of hours on the telephone, meet in the jailhouse visiting room, and exchange nearly a thousand pages of handwritten letters.

With Longo insisting he can prove his innocence, Finkel strives to uncover what really happened to Longo's family, and his quest becomes less a reporting job than a psychological cat-and-mouse game, sometimes redemptively honest, other times slyly manipulative. Finkel's pursuit pays off only at the end, when Longo, after a lifetime of deception, finally says what he wouldn't even admit in court, the whole, true story. Or so it seems.

©2005 Michael Finkel; (P)2005 HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"This book is absolutely riveting, as much for Finkel's own painful self-examination as for the evasions of an accused murderer." (Booklist) "Astute and hypnotically absorbing....There's a burning sincerity (and beautifully modulated writing) on every page, sufficient to convince most that this brilliant blend of true-crime and memoir does live up to its bald title." (Publishers Weekly)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.9 (67 )
5 star
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3.9 (8 )
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4.0 (8 )
5 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Jeff Oakville, Ontario, Canada 09-18-05
    Jeff Oakville, Ontario, Canada 09-18-05
    HELPFUL VOTES
    14
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    5
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    "Bad reader and a weak (true) story!"

    This is, by far, the worst audiobook that I've encountered. This is the second audiobook that I've purchased that employs the author as the reader and, in both cases, it ruins the story. The story "may" be worth telling but I couldn't get past the awkwardness of the reader -- it was painful. However, I don't believe that the story has much to offer either. This story felt like the author's attempt at an apology for past (journalistic) acts that the average reader couldn't care less about.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Betty Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada 05-22-09
    Betty Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada 05-22-09 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    101
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    69
    16
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    "The narration ruined it for me"

    The story is interesting, though I didn't find it spellbinding, but the narration is so bad that it
    was hard for me to listen to. I agree with the woman who said it made her angry. Me too! I wanted to yell at him. Oddly stilted speech, lazy pronounciation, and a dramatic intonation at the end of just about every sentence was enough to interfere with the story.
    In short bits I found it tolerable.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joseph Mequon, WI, USA 04-03-06
    Joseph Mequon, WI, USA 04-03-06 Member Since 2002
    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
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    40
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    "Deeply Disturbing"

    I was not familiar with the story of Christian Longo and Michael Finkle until buying the audible book. Now that I have heard it, I can't forget it. Deeply disturbing because it's true.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Stephanie Meadow Vista, CA, USA 09-10-05
    Stephanie Meadow Vista, CA, USA 09-10-05
    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
    ratings
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    3
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    "Instantly disliked Longo...and Finkle"

    I ended up being rivoted by this story, though I was immediately repulsed by the personalities of the two people the story was about, I suppose this is an indication of how good Finkle is with character development - I think this was his point. It was good to see that the horrific character "Flaws" in one man can bring about change in another...All in all a thought provoking riviting story...

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Keith Portland, OR, USA 06-11-05
    Keith Portland, OR, USA 06-11-05
    HELPFUL VOTES
    7
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    "Riveting!"

    In the manner of the great 'true crime' works, but with a twist - the author himself is tightly woven into the story for the fact that the killer, Christian Longo, assumed his identity while on the run.

    You won't be able to put this one down.

    7 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Pam Los Angeles, CA, USA 06-07-06
    Pam Los Angeles, CA, USA 06-07-06
    HELPFUL VOTES
    46
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    86
    10
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    "writers should write"

    The story is, yes, disturbing - and for more than one or two reasons. I'll start with myself.

    1. I bought it. I cared enough about this s-head to read about why he (meaning both of them) cared about himself enough to ...I don't have enough words or, rather, male pronouns to finish that solipsism. Mainly, I regretted buying it because it ended up being about two guys wondering about themselves for 5 hours. One had become full of himself and done something marginally wrong with grave career repercussions; the other was a psychopath and murdered his family. I was interested in both and now I feel like shooting myself in the head.

    2. The writing was not very interesting afterall. Although when you read the description (not mine), it does sound like a v. interesting book, _I_ think it's written so...I don't know. There's so much about the journalist and his great emotions that...wow. Who cares?? Maybe it would've come off better if he hadn't narrated. Maybe it's better in book form. Because the IDEA sounds interesting but...

    3. The narrator is SO BAD I got angry with him! Oh...my...word. Please, dear God, let other people narrate your work. It was like listening to a kindergarten teacher reading "Inch Worm". Then he would get this inappropriately excited tone when talking about the dead mom's parents or whatever. Just..he was all over the place. A habitual, unbreakable cadence that was absolutely unlistenable. I know it's harsh. I know. But I wanted, I really did want, to listen to it. But after 2 hours I was actually mad at it. I was mad at a virtual book, at someone's voice I know only binarily! It was that irritating.

    Hey - one woman's opinion. Go ahead and buy it. Irritate yourself.

    6 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    C. Curran 09-28-14
    C. Curran 09-28-14 Member Since 2012
    ratings
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    3
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    Performance
    Story
    "great story marred by a terrible reading"
    What did you like best about True Story? What did you like least?

    It's an interesting and well written tale.


    Would you be willing to try another one of Michael Finkel’s performances?

    No.


    If this book were a movie would you go see it?

    Yes.


    Any additional comments?

    It's a shame they didn't get a better narrator.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Derek West Chicago, Il, United States 09-12-14
    Derek West Chicago, Il, United States 09-12-14 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
    20
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    Performance
    Story
    "I felt slimy after this book."
    Would you consider the audio edition of True Story to be better than the print version?

    Not necessarily. Finkel did a fine job with the narration however his performance didn't add anything exceptional to the story.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of True Story?

    During the opening statements of the trial the description of the bodies was sickening. I have never felt so disgusted by a book. That being said, I eagerly finished the book.


    What does Michael Finkel bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    To hear, in his voice, the explanation from his previous firing was interesting.


    Any additional comments?

    If only this book was a work of fiction. Longo is scum and I felt filthy after listening to his story. I've never had this gut turning reaction to any book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Linda Rex Michigan 09-04-14
    Linda Rex Michigan 09-04-14 Member Since 2011
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    3
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    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A fascinating and complex character"
    What made the experience of listening to True Story the most enjoyable?

    Just knowing that it was true.


    What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

    How anyone could be such a con man and hold on to a seemingly normal wife and family.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    When Michael Finkel found out an accused murderer was using his identity.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    When the little girl died


    Any additional comments?

    I love true stories! They are always stranger than the truth. I am looking forward to the movie with Brad Pitt.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Konstantin Burlingame, CA, USA 04-04-08
    Konstantin Burlingame, CA, USA 04-04-08 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
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    245
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    "Michael Finkel"

    Dear Michael, I just read your "TRUE STORY" book.
    I wish you had more "true stories" to write about.
    I felt in my soul every word you wrote. You are a true and tallented writer. I wish you and your family best of all your wishes.Thank You for the Book.
    Konstantin Kupfer

    1 of 4 people found this review helpful
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