Jesse Kornbluth takes a look at the OJ Simpson case in a way you’ve never seen before.
Two decades after O.J. Simpson killed his ex-wife, there’s a hugely popular TV series about the crime and a news story about a knife — perhaps the knife that O.J. used to butcher Nicole and her friend Ron Goldman.
Jeffrey Toobin has written that he’s skeptical about the knife — “The passage of time has likely destroyed any forensic value, and the murky circumstances of the discovery suggest that it may be a hoax, or at least a mistake” — but not about O.J.’s guilt: “The most important questions about the case, at least for me, have long since been answered.”
If you recall how fascinated, even obsessed, you were with the murder, the trial and the verdict — and if you say you weren’t, you’re lying — you want to read Sheila Weller’s book, “Raging Heart: The Intimate Story of the Tragic Marriage of O.J. and Nicole Brown Simpson.”
Sheila is a close friend. A recent friend. I didn’t know her when she did legendary reporting on the Simpson/Brown story. But I completely believe her when she says she interviewed 80 people for this book and that “every day from early July until the completion of my writing at the end of December, I spoke at length to at least one member of a core group of six people — three men and three women: people very close to Nicole and/or O.J. Simpson — who I came to think of as my ‘brain trust’ for the telling of this story — and who I also came to think of as my friends.” And I completely believe that Sheila, and only Sheila, got the real story.
That story is about a good father and a devoted mother who lived for her children. And then it’s about the dark side of that duo: a toxic romance, spanning decades. As she writes:
To me, this story, with its tight ensemble of identifiable and quite fetching characters with perpetually intersecting lives, could easily be lifted whole out of West Los Angeles and dropped tomorrow into any wealthy, young-at-heart, close-as-a-small-town American suburb. Not much looked wrong with that pretty picture — until it all exploded in violent tragedy.
So along with the closely reported narrative of the romance, the murder and the aftermath, Sheila confronts the reader with questions that echo far beyond West Los Angeles:
How can we save a friend from being murdered? How can we save a friend from being a murderer? How can we effectively intervene? What happens if we don’t? How can we live with ourselves afterward?
“Raging Heart” was a New York Times bestseller for 7 weeks. It’s just been re-issued. If, after all these years, you want to read the story that only O.J and Nicole’s closest friends knew, this is it. [To pre-order the paperback from Amazon, click here. To buy the Kindle edition, click here. For the audio book, click here.]
This article originally appeared on The Head Butler