Thursday, June 2, 2011

Unbelievable True Story Book Giveaway

Do you enjoy reading mysteries (or any type genre) that is based on true facts?

With most mysteries there is a bit of truth found somewhere either in the main plot or the idea that gave the author something to ponder and develop. That to me makes a story more intriguing to know it did or could have happened.

Thanks to Lindsay and the good folks at Viking/Penguin I have a copy of a story that tells the unbelievable true story of the shape-shifting con man known as Clark Rockefeller to giveaway today. THE MAN IN THE ROCKEFELLER SUIT: The Astonishing Rise and Fall of a Serial Imposter by Vanity Fair contributing editor Mark Seal goes on sale today, June 2. Please see the end of the post for the giveaway guidelines.

The critics are raving about this book: Publishers Weekly, Booklist and Kirkus gave it starred reviews calling it “impossible to put down,” “irresistibly lucid and propulsive,” and “one of the most intriguing, compelling stories of audacious criminality you’re likely to read this year.”
And in a shocking development making headlines this March, Rockefeller was finally charged with the 1985 murder of John Sohus, the son of his San Marino landlord.

Here’s some background on the book: Much was reported after Rockefeller’s arrest in 2008, but his full story has never been told. In preparation for this book, Seal spent two years interviewing almost two hundred people who know the man and discovered that his fraud was deeper, more sinister and more widespread than anyone could have imagined.
Clark Rockefeller, a.k.a. Christian Gerhartsreiter, a.k.a. Christopher Mountbatten Chichester, a.k.a. Christopher Crowe, was born in the sleepy town of Bergen, Germany, and from his earliest days knew he was destined for something bigger and better. In 1978, at seventeen years old and obsessed with America, Christian Gerhartsreiter used a tourist visa to go to Connecticut and enroll in high school. Over the next thirty years, he worked his way up the social ladder in increasingly exclusive enclaves on both coasts. The imposter charmed his way into prestigious social clubs and financial institutions—working on Wall Street with no credentials and showing off an extraordinary fake art collection that even high level art dealers and prestigious gallery curators believed was real. His lifetime of deceptions and shams culminated in a stunning twelve-year marriage to Sandra Boss, a rising star businesswoman with a Harvard MBA who believed she’d wed a Rockefeller. But in 2008, the marriage ended and he made the grave mistake of kidnapping his own daughter. When he was caught, his thirty-year track of deceptions came to light. Authorities were finally able to connect the dots between his many identities and he was sentenced to up to five years in prison for kidnapping and assault.
On March 15, 2011, in yet another shocking twist, Rockefeller was charged with the 1985 murder of John Sohus, the son of his landlady when he was living in San Marino, CA under the name “Christopher Chichester.” Rockefeller is still serving time in Boston for kidnapping his daughter, but the LA County district attorney is seeking extradition to bring him to LA to face the murder charges. In THE MAN IN THE ROCKEFELLER SUIT, Seal lays out a wealth of chilling evidence (based on unprecedented police interviews, reports and documents) about Rockefeller’s involvement with the disappearance of John and his wife Linda, who hasn’t been seen since 1985.
In today’s America, it’s unfathomable that someone could stay in this country for three decades not as a clandestine illegal immigrant, but as a brash, outsized character, hungry for attention and fabricating connections to some of the most famous people in the world. But as Rockefeller’s story would show, people don’t usually argue with a name or ask questions if you exhibit brazen confidence. THE MAN IN THE ROCKEFELLER SUIT—the jaw-dropping story of a real-life Talented Mr. Ripley determined to live out the American dream by any means necessary—will be one of the most riveting books you’ve read in years.   

Now for a little bit about the author, Mark Seal. He is a contributing
editor at Vanity Fair and the author of the critically acclaimed book WILDFLOWER: An Extraordinary Life and Mysterious Death in Africa, about the murdered wildlife filmmaker and naturalist Joan Root. Seal was a 2010 National Magazine Award finalist for his Vanity Fair profile of Clark Rockefeller. He lives in Aspen, Colorado. For more on Seal and his writing, check out his website at

Seal talked to close to 200 people who knew the man known as Clark Rockefeller. The following are just a few of the many people Seal talked to who have never spoken to the media:
● FBI investigators and police detectives who prosecuted Rockefeller on kidnapping charges and investigated the murder of John Sohus and disappearance of his wife Linda Sohus.
● The Boston assistant district attorney who prosecuted Rockefeller on hiding out in New York City for four years after the disappearance of John and Linda Sohus.
● Elmer and Jean Kelln, a California couple who picked up Rockefeller when he was hitchhiking on the autobahn in Germany in 1978. They were his first introduction to America.
● The friends, family and former teacher who helped Rockefeller install himself into two Connecticut high schools at age 17.
● Jann Eldnor—a Swedish cowboy / hairdresser / town character in San Marino who cut Rockefeller’s hair each month. Jann came to know many secrets about Rockefeller and has his own theory about why and how Rockefeller murdered John Sohus.
●  Former colleagues from Rockefeller’s Wall Street jobs.
●  Neighbors and friends of Rockefeller’s in New York who knew Sandra and Clark as a couple
● Friends, neighbors, city officials and adversaries who knew Rockefeller in Cornish, New Hampshire where he went to war with many of the locals while posing as a county squire.
● Friends from Boston, including a former county sheriff, who became part of Rockefeller’s elaborate pose in that city.

Onto the giveaway. To enter this giveaway, send me an e-mail ( Your subject line should read, “Win THE MAN IN THE ROCKEFELLER SUIT.” Your message should include your name and mailing address. The contest is open to residents of the U.S. and Canada only and no post office box addresses can be accepted. Just so you know, I don’t share the mailing information or use it for any other purpose. The deadline to enter this giveaway for a chance to win a copy of THE MAN IN THE ROCKEFELLER SUIT will be 8 p.m. (EST) on Friday, June 10.

How do you feel about reading stories based on true events? Is a story based on true events more intriguing to you or less? Thanks for stopping by. Hope to visit with you soon.


  1. Hi Mason and Mark .. an amazing and rather frightening piece of history - that someone could have the brazenness to get away with it .. and I'm sure it'll make a very interesting read.

    Wildflower - I see Joan Root made the film March of the Penguins .. again I imagine that too would be an excellent read ..

    I shall keep these books in mind - thanks Mason - very informative and interesting ... have good weekends .. Hilary

  2. Mason - Thanks for sharing this book. Some true crime is really compelling, and this sounds like a very good example. And I am especially impressed with the prodigious amount of research that Mark did to tell the story.

  3. This man, and his story, sound absolutely fascinating!

  4. I adore true crime books, just finished one called To The Last Breath about the murder of a little girl by her sociopath father. I'll email you!

  5. I like reading stories and watching movies that are based on true events. I especially like ones that are inspirational.

  6. that's quite an interesting book cover!

  7. Sounds like an interesting true crime story! Thanks for sharing this with us. I do enjoy reading true crime from time to time.

  8. This is such a strange story. I would enjoy reading it.


  9. I saw a version of this on Lifetime. I expect it was a deviation of the true story. I am sure the book will be an interesting read. Hard to believe that something like this really happened.


I'd love to hear your thoughts on today's post. Thanks for dropping by.