Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Man in the Rockefeller Suit

Christopher Crowe.

Christopher Chichester.

Christopher Mountbatten.

These are three names that Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter went by. But there is one name he will will be forever linked with.

Clark Rockefeller.

The Man in the Rockefeller Suit is a interesting, well-written book book on how Gerhartsreiter, a German immigrant, was able to con people in both coasts and how his massive web of lies finally came down.

For almost twenty years, Gerhartsreiter used different aliases and traveled across the country. He wanted access to the rich and powerful and integrated himself with them while somehow became able to support his "lavish" lifestyle.

While in California under the name Christopher Chichester, he met Didi Sohus, an elderly woman who he eventually ripped off. But her son and daughter-in-law became missing. John Sohus' body was eventually found, but wife Linda was never found. Chichester left town, on to his next city with rich people.

For most of the 90s and well into the 2000s, Gerhartsreiter lived life as Clark Rockefeller, which had many of the rich and powerful impressed because they thought he was a part of the famous family. The chips began to fall when his wife (who didn't know his true identity) divorced and found out that he wasn't a Rockefeller. The situation becomes worst when he kidnaps his young daughter, which became an international manhunt that ended in a Baltimore house.

Author Mark Seal, who started following the story while writing for Vanity Fair, interviewed almost 200 people for this book and did a great job of putting the story together. His extensive research and writing style made this book a pleasure to read from beginning to end.

Gerhartsreiter is scheduled to be released in two years for the kidnapping, but he may be spending the rest of his life in a California prison. In March he was charged with murder in the death of John Sohus. We may not have heard the last of "Clark Rockefeller," but his story will continue to draw interest for years to come.

Note: Received an advanced copy from NetGalley and Viking Press.

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