There's A New 'Dirty John' Book With Even MORE True Crime Stories

by Sadie Trombetta

If you are one of the 20 million listeners who downloaded the Dirty John podcast, then you already know that host and Los Angeles Times staff writer Christopher Goffard knows how to tell one hell of a story. His features about grifters and conmen, criminals and outcasts, the wronged and the wrongly accused have been published in newspapers across the country, and now, for the first time, he's collected some of his best stories like "Dirty John" into one book that all true crime fans are going to love.

Long before he became famous in the podcasting world, acclaimed literary journalist Christopher Goffard made a name for himself finding the most intriguing stories in the darkest corners of society and shining a light on them for all of America to see. Over the course of his illustrious career, he has written about everything from prison gangs and volunteer border guards to fugitive ex-cops and innocent men behind bars. He was twice a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for his feature writing, and in 2011, he shared in the Los Angeles Times' Pulitzer Prize for Public Service.

In 2017, Goffard turned one of his most fascinating stories into an investigative journalism podcast, Dirty John. The six-part series chronicles the life and crimes of John Meehan, a conman whose manipulation and abuse of one family in Southern California lead to his death. Wildly popular with true crime fans and critics alike, Dirty John even inspired a Bravo TV series starring Connie Britton, which is set to premiere in November. It is also the titular story in Goffard's newest book, which has in its pages fifteen unbelievable true narratives about criminals, outcasts, and the people who live on the very fringes of society.

A compelling collection of true tales that read more like fiction, Dirty John is an addictive read, and here are five of its most fascinating stories.

"The Accusations"

When Louis Gonzalez III arrived at the Simi Valley Montessori School, he was hoping to get a look at his five-year-old son's new kindergarten before taking the boy back to Vegas with him for a weekend visit. Instead, he was arrested for assaulting and raping his ex, the mother of his child, Tracy West, and held at the Ventura County Jail without bail. Gonzalez swears he is innocent, but West insists to police and the press her son's father is the one who tied her up, beat her, and violated her. Who is telling the truth? That is the fascinating question "The Accusations" answers.


Life on the rails isn't easy and it certainly isn't glamorous, but for Adam Kuntz, it's the best life there is. That is why he gave up his comfortable life at his father's house to sleep on the cold, hard floor of a junk train, because he has never felt more free or more at home than when he's hopping cars. Adam isn't alone, and in "Riders," Goffard uses his story, and the heartbreaking story of his girlfriend, to introduce readers to the unseen world of the "travelling kids," a loose community of homeless teens and young adults who live life one train at a time.


When the cops asked for the keys to her PT Cruiser outside Plaza Vista School, Kelli Peters wasn't worried. That is, until they discovered marijuana, Percocet, Vicodin, and other drug paraphernalia in her car, drug paraphernalia the loving mother and PTA president swore was not hers. Apparently, the police had gotten an anonymous tip about a parent volunteer using drugs at school, but there wasn't any evidence to tie Kelli to the pot or the pills. The police were baffled, but Kelli was convinced: she had an enemy, and they were out to ruin her life. Find out who, and why, in this bizarre story, which was originally published as a six-part series for the Los Angeles Times and is being developed by Netflix into a Julia Roberts-starring film.

"Border Warrior"

Along the U.S.-Mexico border, there hundreds of Minutemen, volunteers who camp out full time trying to catch immigrants trying to cross illegally. Max Kennedy is one of them, but after 14 months in the desert, he is more unsure than ever of why he is there and what he should be doing about the people desperate to come into the country he calls home. "Border Warrior" is his thought-provoking, eye-opening story, one that may be over 10 years old but feels more relevant today than ever before.

"The $40 Lawyer"

Fans of Serial's newest season will be fascinated by "The $40 Lawyer," an engrossing story that chronicles a young public defender's first year on the job. If you thought the legal system was interesting before, wait until you see it in Florida from behind-the-scenes and through the eyes of a newbie this gripping feature, which earned Goffard one of his two solo Pulitzer Prize nominations.