cover image Irresistible Impulse: A True Story of Blood and Money

Irresistible Impulse: A True Story of Blood and Money

Robert Lindsey, Author Simon & Schuster $22 (320p) ISBN 978-0-671-68069-5

Coverage in the British tabloids was wilder than usual when Michael Henry Maxwell Telling was tried and convicted for the 1983 killing of 26-year-old Monika Zumsteg, his American-born wife of only 15 months. Lindsey ( A Gathering of Saints ) recounts the major details of this doomed relationship, from the lovers' courtship to the discovery of Zumsteg's bullet-ridden, decapitated body. Telling--heir to the fortune of the Vesteys, England's second-wealthiest family--spent time in mental hospitals as a youngster, and as an adult became a chronic liar subject to violent fits of rage. On a trip to the San Francisco Bay Area to buy a Harley-Davidson, while falsely claiming to be a British intelligence agent, he met Zumsteg, a junior executive; within the month he had proposed to her. But his ``dark side'' emerged shortly after the couple moved to England, and Zumsteg fell into alcoholism and despair. Lindsey covers Telling's six-day trial routinely, and does little more investigating into Zumsteg's American and British days than did the attorneys for the defense and the prosecution, both of whom were determined to blame Telling's murderous behavior on the victim herself. Photos not seen by PW. (Sept.)