McDonald (My Father’s Gun, 1999) fashions a poignant, occasionally repetitive, but truly chilling tale of the 2004 murder of self-made New York businesswoman Beth Lochtefeld.
An architectural expediter who built her business over 15 hard-going years in the corrupt world of Manhattan construction, Lochtefeld at age 44 decided it was time to change tacks and find a mate. She sold her business at a terrific profit and spent a lot of time at a rented cottage in Nantucket, where she had summered as a child. She traveled, dabbled in writing fiction and tried to promote a book of her father’s artwork. For six weeks during the fall of 2004, Lochtefeld dated Tom Toolan, 37, a smooth, dapper character who had been fired from Smith Barney. Toolan maintained an expensive apartment on West End Avenue in the city and frequented the Dublin House bar, where he was known as a big talker, drinker and gambler. Smith Barney had first fired him for drunkenly insulting his superiors at a party, then rehired him, only to fire him again in 2001 when he was arresting for trying to lift a 60-pound marble bust from the Seventh Regiment Armory on Park Avenue. Lochtefeld began to grow wary of Toolan’s drinking, smoking and secretive, aggressive ways; moreover, after only a few weeks of courting, he was insisting that they marry. Toolan was apparently in financial straits, and the couple had discussed cosigning a lease for his office space. However, the relationship deteriorated, and Lochtefeld fled to Nantucket; he stalked her to her refuge and stabbed her repeatedly with a cheap fishing knife. To creepy effect, McDonald discusses an ominous astrological chart that haunted Lochtefeld for years and the fears that led her to study aikido for self-defense shortly before her murder.
Straightforward, non-sensational and sternly unwavering in its sympathy for the victim.