"Deadly Masguerade" reads like a fiction thriller. True story of he murder of Diane Pikul by her husband, Diane Pikul. Joe beat and choked Diane to death at their Hamptons home. This book is truly a shocking tale of sexual perversion, blackmail and violence. What more could you ask for?
This story was so dark and dismal, I had to take a break. It's an interesting case study of Joe Pikul but the author gets bogged down with the trial and it's details, almost as if he'd copied the trascripts - very dry.
Dawn O. (dowings36) reviewed Deadly Masquerade: A True Story of High Living, Depravity and Murder on
This isn't your typical "who done it". The mystery isn't who murdered whom or how, but the motivations behind the murder, and the coterie of bizarre individuals populating this story. Sometimes truth truly is stranger than fiction.
Joseph Pikul was born to working class parents in a Massachusetts factorytown. His father was abusive, his mother was barely literate, but he had a knack for mathematics and managed to work his way through university. He married his college sweatheart and soon carved a niche for himself as a successful Wall Street analyst.
Sounds like an all-American success story, but looks can be deceiving. Behind closed doors, Pikul was a violent, paranoid alcholic, who routinely beat his wife. He was also a closeted gay man and cross dresser, who often videotaped his alternate personalities - he named each one - engaged in various sex acts (alone and with partners). His first marriage ended after he nearly killed his wife.
On a downward spiral, he sought help, and while attending AA he met Diane Snackenberg, a fellow attendee. A Midwestern girl, Diane was attractive, clever, an ivy league graduate. Unlike Joe, she'd enjoyed a very comfortable upper middle class upbringing, but she had no intention of returning to the Midwest. Diane had always firmly believed she was "destined for better things". She dreamt of being a successful writer and longed for a life lived among the rich and powerful, dining at the finest restaurants, belonging to the most exclusive clubs. Instead, by her early 30s, Diane was burnt out, broke, divorced, drinking excessively, and employed doing glorified secretarial work that she loathed. Desperate, she began to attend AA.
Joe Pikul was hardly the Prince Charming Diane had spent her life dreaming of, but he was wealthy, and at this point in her life that was good enough. They married quickly after meeting. Two children soon followed.
Diane finally had the luxurious life she'd craved. An apartment in Greenwich Village, a summer home in the Hamptons, limousines took her out to shop and dine, but the marriage was a disaster. Joe soon revealed his tyrannical nature. Tired of his violent temper and mood swings, Diane contemplated divorce. She discovered Joe's alternate personality "Chloe" - a drag queen. Worse, Joe was telling everyone that he might have AIDS (considered a death sentence in 1987). She was devestated, but saw an opportunity and quickly snatched it. She began blackmailing Joe, threatening to use her new found information to ensure that she inherited not only a large portion of his wealth, but also sole custody of their children. Joe loved few people, but his children were an obsession.
Joe lost an enormous amount of money on Black Friday 1987, the worst day on the stock market since 1929. He was dying. Seemingly, he had little left to live for, but he'd be damned if Diane was going to get the kids. He had one goal - prevent her from obtaining custody at all costs. The lunacy that followed has to be read to be believed. If this were a work of fiction prospective publishers would have dismissed the story as absurdly farfetched.