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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

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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Jossey Bass; 1 edition (21 April 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0470442514
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470442517
  • Product Dimensions: 21.8 x 14.2 x 2.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,023,944 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, or on Facebook or Twitter, @caitlinrother.

Product Description


“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.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
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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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.8 out of 5 stars  44 reviews
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Price of Loyalty 28 July 2008
By MJS - Published on
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.
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
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.
7 of 8 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
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.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Emotionally Charged Read 19 July 2008
By Avid Reader - Published on
It is hard to imagine that this story is true, but it is. I am acquainted with Margo Bennett, and have been since this story unfolded, so reading this book was especially personal for me. Caitlin Rother's Twisted Triangle does a wonderful job of illustrating the emotional journey of a woman tormented by a psychotic husband, and her untimely and illicit encounters with a world renowned author. Superficial details of Gene Bennett's plots to defraud the FBI and various insurance agencies, and his attempts on the lives of his wife and her minister were covered in depth by the Washington, DC area press, but this book delves into the emotions Margo felt and the pain she suffered while trying to protect herself from her deranged husband and her daughters from their father. And while her detractors might say that she made a number of poor decisions in her life that ultimately lead to the events depicted in Rother's book, others will certainly counter that poor decisions are never an excuse for abuse, mental or physical. Rother has captured those abusive moments in vivid detail. I applaud Margo for having the courage to tell her side of the story. This book is definitely a page-turner - one you will find hard to put down.
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
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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