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Twisted Triangle: A Famous Crime Writer, a Lesbian Love Affair, and the FBI Husband's Violent Revenge [Paperback]

Caitlin Rother , John Hess
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

21 April 2009
Praise for Twisted Triangle "This book will haunt you. It will move you to look at some of the harsh realities of life in a new way. A powerful story–and masterfully written." –Aphrodite Jones best–selling author, All She Wanted and Cruel Sacrifice "A harrowing tale of one woman′s struggle to maintain a balance between being a mother, an FBI agent, and dealing with a corrupt husband also an FBI agent. A must–read." –Joseph D. Pistone aka Donnie Brasco "Hitchcock wishes he′d dreamed it up. Capote wishes he′d written it. Rother′s mesmerizing narrative chronicles a wife′s heroic struggle against great odds to survive her psychopathic husband′s elaborate scheme to make her murder the perfect crime. This spellbinding tale offers an added treat–it′s true." –Marcus Stern Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist and author, The Wrong Stuff: The Extraordinary Saga of Randy "Duke" Cunningham, the Most Corrupt Congressman Ever Caught "This in–depth account brought back memories of a most bizarre case, proving once again that the truth can be stranger than fiction." –Paul B. Ebert Commonwealth′s attorney, County of Prince William, Virginia


Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Jossey Bass; 1 edition (21 April 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0470442514
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470442517
  • Product Dimensions: 2.3 x 14.4 x 22.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 638,360 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

More About the Author

New York Times bestselling author Caitlin Rother has written or co-authored eight books, both fiction and non-fiction: true crime books LOST GIRLS, POISONED LOVE, DEAD RECKONING, BODY PARTS, TWISTED TRIANGLE, and the thriller NAKED ADDICTION. She is the co-author of MY LIFE, DELETED and also of DEADLY DEVOTION (originally published as WHERE HOPE BEGINS).

Rother is now working on I'LL TAKE CARE OF YOU, about the murder of entrepreneur and inventor Bill McLaughlin by his fiancee, femme fatale Nanette Johnston Packard, and her NFL-playing lover, Eric Naposki, in Newport Beach, California. It will be released in late 2013.

Her latest book, LOST GIRLS, tells the story behind the rape and murder of Amber Dubois and Chelsea King, two innocent teenagers from San Diego, California, by sexual predator John Albert Gardner.

Rother, a Pulitzer-nominated investigative journalist, worked for nearly 20 years for daily newspapers, covering issues ranging from addiction, suicide, mental illness and murder to politics and corruption at City Hall and in Congress. Most recently a staff writer for The San Diego Union-Tribune, Rother also has been published in Cosmopolitan, the Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, The Daily Beast and the Huffington Post. She has made scores of TV and radio appearances as a crime expert on shows including, "Nancy Grace," "Women Who Kill" on E!, the "Snapped" series on the Oxygen Network, numerous shows on the Investigation Discovery channel, "On the Record" with Greta Van Susteren on Fox News, and various public radio and television programs across the southwestern United States.

Rother, who earned her bachelor's degree in psychology from University of California Berkeley and her master's in journalism from Northwestern University, teaches narrative non-fiction, creative writing, advanced feature writing and interviewing at the University of California San Diego-Extension.

For more information, check out her website at http://caitlinrother.com, or on Facebook or Twitter, @caitlinrother.


Product Description

Review

“It’s a story more terrifying than her own bestselling thrillers – how novelist Patricia Cornwell’s torrid affair…ended in…astonishing and savage revenge”.Daily Mail Saturday 26 April 2008 --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From the Inside Flap

Twisted Triangle

Twisted Triangle tells the compelling true story of Margo Bennett, a married FBI agent whose jealous, vengeful husband, Gene Bennett, a former undercover FBI agent, kidnapped and attempted to murder her after she had?a secret love affair with best–selling crime novelist Patricia Cornwell.

This series of bizarre events caused a sensation when it made national news a decade ago, but the whole incredible story has never before been told. Only now have Margo Bennett, her friends, and family granted investigative journalist Caitlin Rother exclusive access to personal interviews, previously sealed court records, diaries, letters, and other formerly confidential material. The book details the crazy dynamics of Margo and Gene Bennett′s marriage and family, the rise and fall of their FBI careers, and Margo′s clandestine lesbian affair with celebrity author Patricia Cornwell. Stranger than fiction, this story describes the makings of Gene′s complex plan, his insanity defense, and the trial that ultimately vindicated Margo and sent Gene to prison, where he remains today.

Margo Bennett lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she is a captain of the University of California, Berkeley, campus police department. Gene Bennett is incarcerated in Virginia, not far from the Washington DC area, where the events of this fascinating true crime narrative took place. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
By ROSIE
Format:Hardcover
This is a true story of a woman called Margo Bennett a married FBI agent, who after and abusive marriage, met, fell in love with and had a secret love affair with the crime novelist Patricia Cornwell.

Margos husband Gene a former undercover FBI agent, was furious, and in revenge kidnapped and attempted to murder Margo.

It details what happens after her husband is caught and the subsequent trial.

This book reads like a first class crime novel itself, but the most terrifying part is, its all true.

Its scary, full of suspense.
Its so hard to believe that a persons love could turn to such vicious hate.

I fully recommend this book.
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Amazon.com: 3.8 out of 5 stars  42 reviews
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Price of Loyalty 28 July 2008
By MJS - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I'm always pleased to see thoughtful True Crime in hardback and Caitlin Rother's previous effort, Poisoned Love, proved she can deliver the goods when it comes to the genre. Then there's the case at hand: the famous (infamous) "love triangle" between crime novelist Patricia Cornwell, FBI agent Margo Bennett and Margo's FBI agent husband Gene. Better true crime fodder can't be found.

Except that there wasn't much of a "triangle". No, the real story here is the abusive marriage between Margo and Gene. Both were successful FBI agents but Gene's willingness (or need) to employ larceny to augment the family income hardly fit with the traditional G-Man image. Insurance scams, side businesses and padded expense reports were all business as usual for Gene. So was emotional abuse and, ultimately, physical abuse triggered by Margo's determination to free herself from a miserable marriage.

This is Margo's story, told from her vantage point in terms of emotions and facts. The reader learns things about Gene as Margo learns them. We also see her relationship with Cornwell unfold through Margo's eyes. Even without sour grapes, Cornwell still comes across as a needy woman enchanted by her own sudden fame. Gene, however, remains something of a cipher. Aside from speculation that he became hooked on the high of undercover work, Rother doesn't do much to help the reader understand what makes Gene tick. He's a repellant character but what created him?

We get to see the long term impact on the entire family of Gene's deceit and violence, along with his continued attempts to manipulate his children. It's hard not to agree with Margo Bennett that Gene will come after he once parolled. It's also hard not to revel a bit in the novelty of an abused spouse who's had the police training necessary to save herself. Her cool thinking clearly saved two lives.

The exploitive sub-title is unfortunate because the book itself doesn't exploit the characters or the situation. All in all this is an enjoyable true crime story in which the victim not only survives but emerges empowered.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars OK but doesn't live up to its hype 10 July 2009
By B. McEwan - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Twisted Triangle is a good true crime story and it highlights the sexism that can manifest in situations of domestic abuse, which is an under-reported issue. Even though most of the action described in the book took place in the 1990s, even today many people discount the threat that an alienated husband can pose to his wife. In the case of Margo and Gene Bennett, whose tale is told here, Gene clearly planned to harm his wife, yet he was able to fool law enforcement professionals into thinking that Margo was overstating the danger he posed to her and their children. I believe the reason for this is less that Gene was a master manipulator than that the mostly male FBI and police personnel were too willing to see Margo as a hysterical female with an overactive imagination.

The problem with the book is not its content, but the way that it was promoted by the publisher, which obviously tried to cash in on the brief sexual relationship that Margo had with crime writer Patricia Cornwell. While it is apparently true that Cornwell had a fling with Margo at some point, the relationship between the two really doesn't seem to have been much of a factor in the dysfunctional dynamic that existed between Margo and Gene.

I think it was misleading to portray this book as love triangle among Margo, Gene and Cornwell. Actually, it is a book about a husband who wanted to control his wife and when it appeared he couldn't went nuts and tried to kill her. Shame on Jossey-Bass/Wiley for misrepresenting Twisted Triangle.
17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Must read.. 4 May 2008
By Beryl Kreyer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I stumbled on this book while looking up Patricia Cornwell to see if she had any new books coming up. I ordered it from the library and once I started reading it I couldn't put it down. Now Caitlin Rother is among my favorites. I can't wait to read the rest of her books. She is a wonderful author. Glad I found her.
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars This is Absolutely the Worse Book that I Have Ever Read 27 Sep 2011
By J. Gordon - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
With the name "Patricia Cornwell" prominently displayed on the cover's flap, my wife just had to read this book. And the subtitle, "A Famous Crime Writer, a Lesbian Love Affair, and the FBI Husband's Violent Revenge!" Yeah, my wife needed to read this book. And she's a pretty fast reader. But I was still a little surprised when she had apparently finished it in one night. Usually, for a nearly three hundred page book, it takes her two to three nights. "Did you read the book?" I asked. "Are you going to read it?" she replied. I told her that I was and she said that she didn't want to discuss it until after I had read it. We do that occasionally when we don't want to influence each other's opinions.

Well, I did read it cover to cover and I have to say this: my wife and I are both bibliophiles and we read books on a multitude of subjects, including many, many books by people we don't agree with. Neither of us, regardless of poor writing or bad content, have ever read a book that we didn't get at least something out of. That is up until reading this. Truly, this is the worst book either of us have ever read. In a nutshell:

Once upon a time, in far, far away place; there lived a handsome prince and beautiful princes named Gene and Margo. They had two lovely children, Allison and Lindsey. The handsome prince and the beautiful princes were not just ordinary monarchs of the realm. No, they were both FBI agents and she was stationed at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia. Along comes a famous writer who visits the academy and in the dark of the night, she sneaks away and seduces the princess. The princess is enraptured in exquisite ecstasy. The warm embrace of another woman. The pulsating kisses. The wetness of another woman's tongue running along her quivering body. And the explosion of an orgasm, the likes of which she had only dreamed about, but had never experienced. It had radiated throughout her body, leaving her a mound of exhausted pleasure. She had no choice. Her mind was made up. The prince needed to be told.

Now, the prince was not an understanding type of guy and didn't take it well. So he toiled deep within the castle's chambers, brewing a sweet smelling poison made from the fangs of a thousand snakes. Placing the concoction in an apple, he knelt beside the princess, waking her gently as he offered her the poisoned fruit. Suddenly, the kingdom's knights raced into the room and arrested the prince on orders from the Crown. He was taken away to rot in the dungeons and the princess returned to her dreams . . . and to the famous writer. The end.

Okay, there was some stuff that I left out. Soon after Gene and Margo married, the FBI transferred them and both - yes, both - defrauded the government out of several thousand dollars in relocation expenses. Later, both defrauded an insurance company in falsely reporting some jewelry stolen. About ten years or so later, according to Caitlin Rother and John Hess, the authors, Margo regretted her participation and reported both incidents to the FBI. Margo's sudden regret, interestingly, coincided exactly with her decision to divorce her husband. And in reporting the thefts, she had negotiated an immunity deal for herself. Gene wasn't that lucky. He was convicted and sentenced to prison.

While freed from any criminal consequences, the FBI terminated Margo's employment and she was stunned! She believed that because she had reported the crimes, that that should have been the end of it for her. The fact that she was equally guilty and had equally benefited from the stolen money was something that she was unable to understand. After leaving the FBI, she obtained employment as a campus police officer at a local college. Interestingly, the fact that she had been fired by the FBI for theft and lying, to say nothing of her massive financial problems that she caused herself, didn't impede her law enforcement career.

Gene, on the other hand, was a ruined man. His career was destroyed. He was a drunk. He was unemployed and destitute. He was a convicted felon. He was also losing his grip on reality, something that Margo mocks. Of course, because of her immunity deal, she wasn't an ex-con so we don't how she would have fared. After Gene got out of prison, according to Margo, he tried to kill her. Gene said that he was simply trying to talk to her. I have no idea what's true. I would have a hard time believing either one of them. It is interesting, however, that rather than simply walking up to Margo and blowing her away, Gene came up with a convoluted, nonsensical, ridiculous plan in which he allegedly tried to kill her. Gene was a college educated FBI agent who specialized in conducting complex undercover criminal investigations. The absurdity of this supposed plan, to me anyway, was clearly evidence of a person losing his mental faculties under enormous strain even though in many respects, it was strain that he had caused himself. In any event, Gene was convicted and received a long prison sentence.

The worse part of the book, though, is that throughout, the authors obviously distort the story to paint Margo out as some sort of heroine. It is shamefully, in-your-face obvious. Both authors admit that they are friends with her and she was the primary source of the book. And Gene had declined to cooperate. Nevertheless, the complete lack of objectivity is something that neither my wife nor I have ever read in any book, particularly one dealing with this type of subject. Any reasonably thinking person would conclude that Margo is a disgusting, despicable person. And what she did to her children is unforgiveable.

While Margo had been left a mountain of protoplasmic delight after her sexual encounter with Patricia Cornwell, to the famous author, Margo was a one night stand. Cornwell also had declined to cooperate with the book and in the end, that's the extent of her involvement in the story irrespective of the subtitle. Soon after, when Margo decided to divorce Gene, she did so with the intent of destroying him. In accomplishing that, she and she alone, placed her two children right smack in the middle being more than willing to destroy them if it meant destroying her husband. And her children were irrevocably scarred. Both started using drugs and became promiscuous. Both suffered from serious mental illnesses. Both had their self-images shattered as their psychological states were bombarded with hate. And at least one engaged in self-mutilation. Repeatedly, Rother and Hess claimed that Margo "didn't want her children to live with the horror and torment that their father had (tried to kill) their mother." If that's true, Rother and Hess didn't read their own book. Margo drilled that very thing into her children and did so with great delight which is interesting because the reverse is never presented. That very sentence could easily read, Margo "didn't want her children to live with the horror and torment that their mother had destroyed their father." That's not in the book because Margo did want them to live with that very horror and torment and worked very hard to achieve exactly that.

During her husband's last trial, Margo started to experience anxiety dreams and says Rother and Hess, "[W]hen she woke up, she followed her therapist's advice and went back into her thought process to give the dream a good ending: she grabbed a knife and cut Gene's throat." She hated her husband and wanted their children to hate him too. That became the main obsession of her life. According to Margo, Gene was an evil man who didn't deserve to have his children. Taking her at her word, if that is true, my wife and I would both suggest that the only tragedy worse than having Gene as their father, was having Margo as their mother. And rather than portraying her as some sort of heroine, Rother and Hess should have tried to have remained somewhat objective. Having failed in that, the book is truly worthless. In essence, it's a book written by Margo. For people interested in this story, any other source would be better. My wife and I usually live be the rule, if you can't say something nice, then don't say anything at all. In this case, we just couldn't do it. This is truly a rotten book. Oh yeah, the reason that my wife seemed to have read the book so fast was because that after reading half, she was so repulsed that she couldn't read anymore. In eighteen years, that's the only time I have ever known her to do that.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Read 24 July 2008
By L. Cruz - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This was a very well paced and detailed account of a true unbelievable crime. The way Rother explains everything and pulls you in as she describes the events makes it a page turner. To think the husband was that crazy and yet actually smart...WOW! What she went through to hide her sexuality and deal with her CRAZY husband...makes you think your life is not that bad! Only thing I did not like was the small part Cornwell played in all this. From the cover you would think more of that part of the story would develop, but it left me flat wondering why Cornwell was even brought up in name. It could have been a faceless woman and the outcome of the husbands rage would probably have been the same. Overall..GREAT BOOK!
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