Marrying the Hangman: A True Story of Privilege, Marriage and Murder

Sheila Weller, Author, Susan Kamill, Editor Random House (NY) $21 (319p) ISBN 978-0-394-58290-0

In 1987 Diane Pikul, assistant to the publisher of Harper's magazine, was murdered in her Long Island, N.Y., summer house by her husband, Joseph Pikul, a Wall Street analyst with a penchant for cross-dressing. It's a uniquely urban tragedy, told brilliantly by Weller, who covered the trial for Ms. magazine. Diane, originally from Indiana, came to New York City in the '60s, to transform herself into a sophisticate. Managing difficult men was part of the process. When she opted for a wealthy husband she chose Pikul, and their lush lifestyle hooked her to a man she grew to hate. Weller has uncovered an amazing amount of detail. The portrait that emerges is so finely drawn that one can almost hear Diane laughing as she relates to friends the latest indignities she has suffered from her spouse. Shortly before her murder, Diane told friends that her estranged husband might kill her to get custody of their two children. The book shows how cockeyed laws allowed him that privilege while he was free on bail. He died of AIDS in 1989. Don't miss this one. Literary Guild alternate; author tour. (Apr.)
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