Joe McGinniss Eliot Fremont-Smith - Essay

Eliot Fremont-Smith

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

One trouble with Joe McGinniss's true-crime anatomy, Fatal Vision …, is that it's 663 pages long. If the prose is a little wooden and the insights less than electric, that's like forever. This isn't the Rosenberg case. The book's great length testifies to the author's earnestness, as well as (perhaps) to commercial savvy; but it's insensitive to the enjoyment of true-crime.

Another trouble is that the central mystery of the book, the engine of suspense, is resolved early on—indeed, for reviewers, before the book even begins, in the publicity rap. The suspense is not whether Jeffrey MacDonald, back in 1970, actually bludgeoned, knifed, and ice-picked his pregnant wife and two little...

(The entire section is 656 words.)