Drawing from thousands of pages of police reports, court documents, interviews, letters, and diaries, Sillitoe’s and Roberts’s narrative cuts through the complexities of this famous crime investigation to deliver a gripping, Capote-esque tale. They embrace the details but lay them out systematically as seen through the eyes of the detectives, victims, and the perpetrator. The darkest secrets unravel gradually—allowing the reader fleeting glimpses of the infamous white salamander as it ducks in and out of its fabricator’s head.
What was the “salamander letter” and why were so many people determined to possess—and to conceal—it? Why was this one of the most unusual cases in American forensic history?
A skilled con artist by anyone’s assessment, Mark Hofmann eluded exposure by police and document authenticators—the FBI, Library of Congress, the LDS historical department, and polygraph experts—until George Throckmorton discovered the telltale microscopic alligatoring that was characteristic of the forgeries. What ensued was a suspense-ridden cat-and-mouse game between seasoned prosecutors and a clever, homicidal criminal. In the end, this story only verifies that some facts are indeed stranger than fiction.