In case you hadn't noticed, true crime stories are making the rounds of the theaters. I decided it was worth spending some time with the books that spawned Zodiac and The Hoax.
The Hoax, due out on film in a few weeks, is the more rewarding book of the two. The tell-all story by Clifford Irving entertains with detail, gracefulness and unselfconscious prose, though the author himself is easily despised.
As Irving tells the story --- under threat of returning to jail, he insists --- he began larking with the idea, got caught up in the excitement of his own plan, and sold it to his publisher for an advance of a couple of hundred grand. He worked the book all the way until it was ready to go to print, got caught and ultimately tried to give most of the money back as he found himself headed to prison. As with many true crime accounts, all of this is known to the reader from the outset of the book. It's how
Zodiac Unmasked, which is the first Roger Graysmith version of Zodiac story that I could get my hands on, reads like one long unedited police report of the disjointed kind that I used to plow through in police stations across