February of 2002 marked a turning point in the life of New York Times reporter Michael Finkel. Riding high as one of the paper's busiest and most peripatetic journalists, he was instantly shot down when it was revealed that he had tampered with the truth in a New York Times Magazine cover story he had written on contemporary slave trading in Africa. The New York Times quickly showed Finkel the door, and he watched his world collapse.
His life almost immediately took another twist; he'd become a victim of identity theft. Nobody had stolen his social security or credit card numbers, but someone had assumed his name and was posing as him in Mexico; Christian Longo, a man who had just been apprehended and accused of murdering his own wife and children.
Charming, articulate, and appealing, Christian Longo was the last person anyone would have suspected of such crimes. During the months of incarceration that preceded his trial, he insisted there was only one individual to whom he would tell his story: the reporter whose name he'd stolen. For Finkel, the offer became an irresistible scoop, a way to start rebuilding his shattered reputation--and ultimately, a Faustian bargain.