Here’s a riddle: At the funeral of her sister, a woman meets a man and falls in love with him. But she never asks his name and loses track of him, and when the funeral is over, he is gone. No one can identify him.
Two weeks later, the woman murders her brother. Why?
All essential facts are known to you. Any guess?
The answer: Because she thinks the man might come back for the brother’s funeral.
If you were a sociopath, Weingarten explains, that would have been obvious to you right away.
MacDonald, for background, is a former Army doctor who was convicted, in 1979, of killing his wife and two daughters. He was subsequently the subject of a true-crime book, by Joe McGinniss, which in turn--for reasons Weingarten describes--catalyzed the writing of another book, Janet Malcolm's The Journalist and the Murderer, which is now held as a classic evisceration of the profession. Earlier this year, MacDonald was the subject of yet another book, by Errol Morris, who argues that his trial wasn't fair.
Weingarten's piece covers the latest developments on the criminal side--MacDonald is trying for another appeal--and also, with reference to Malcolm, includes some commentary on craft. He apparently got Morris to back down a bit, too, which is no small feat. Read it.