Though Bugliosi, the D.A., testifies to the packed courtroom that gathered to watch the 1968 People vs. Palliko and Stockton murder trial, at this remove it won't draw the kind of audience that flocked to Helter Skelter. Still, the case--built entirely on circumstantial evidence, and reconstructed here in minutest forensic and psychological detail--has enough macabre and vicious elements to satisfy connoisseurs of cold-blooded California capers. Two people are shot dead: Henry Stockton, quiet, inoffensive husband of Sandra Stockton, and Judy Palliko, new bride of Alan Palliko. Both victims leave sizable insurance policies to their bereaved mates who are having--or once did have--an affair. But 16 months intervene between the two killings and virtually no physical evidence can be found. The spark in the case (and the book's interest) hinges not on Bugliosi's courtroom histrionics but on the mercurial, pathological personality of suspect Alan Pelliko. Pelliko is truly one of a kind: he depicts himself variously as a stockbroker, Mafia hit man, private detective. He dates numerous women, generally proposing marriage on the first date; his gifts to his girlfriends invariably include a delicate handgun. Jewish, he claims to be Italian, and switches rent-a-cars and apartments faster than most people cross the street. He fabricates ""little vindictive scenarios"" that include killing recalcitrant women and almost anyone else who gets in his way. But what to believe? As the authors point out, ""Alan Pelliko was a storyteller, a Los Angeles bullslinger."" Bugliosi finally settles on one version of the double murders long enough to get Pelliko sent to the can for life. The police work seems generally excellent and the proper garish aura of avarice and revenge hangs over the whole sordid tale.