Primarily, I learned, as a writer, that if you live with a crime long enough, it seeps into you. You cry at the trials. You hug the siblings of the victim, and they hug you. You keep your distance. You know that the best thing most of the time is just to keep your trap shut and let people talk when they feel it is safe for them to talk -- or when they feel they can do nothing but talk.
"The Rabbi and the Hit Man," by Arthur J. Magida (HarperCollins, $24.95).
If not for the legion of pederast priests unmasked like some gruesome ecclesiastical episode of "Scooby Doo," Rabbi Fred Neulander might have been a shoo-in for "most infamous religious figure of the past decade."
Now, it's a toss-up. So be it.
Yet after tearing through Arthur J. Magida's "The Rabbi and the Hit Man," the painstakingly detailed account of the rise and fall of Neulander, a philandering New Jersey rabbi who paid an assassin to bludgeon his wife to death in 1994, one can only lapse into a well-worn cliché. Truth is stranger than fiction.