I don’t read a lot of true crime fiction but The Man in the Rockefeller Suit by Mark Seal had me interested from the moment I found out about it. I recalled hearing about the man who called himself Rockefeller and his actions concerning the kidnapping his own daughter. I breathed a sigh of relief when I heard that the little girl had been found unharmed (well, at least physically; I imagine her father’s behaviour would leave some sort of mark on her).
The story written by Mark Seal is fascinating. He takes the reader back to the beginning of Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter’s life and the spark that may have been the start of his lifelong addiction to being someone who he is not. This imposter played various roles so well he fooled literally everyone around him. He told so many lies, it’s amazing how he was not caught sooner. Though when the people around him did start to suspect the truth, he would simply disappear from their lives and reappear elsewhere sporting another fake persona.
Mark Seal did his homework. One remark here or a document there led him across the United States and even to Christian’s hometown in Germany where Mr. Seal spoke to locals who remembered the imposter and knew his family. The author followed every lead that came his way (and I suspect much more was edited out for publication). I can’t say enough how amazing it is that Christian Gerhartsreiter was able to fool almost everyone - including his wife, the upper-crust denizens of New York City and Boston to name just a few. He was, as various people interviewed for this book said, very good at what he did. This is identity theft at its worst.
The sense and feeling of the imposter came through in the telling of this story. And though in the end the imposter is brought to justice, I have a feeling the world has not heard the last of Christian Gerhartsreither.