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I witnessed this first hand last year in LA, where Dunne was covering the trial of the record producer Phil Spector, who was accused of murdering an actress named Lana Clarkson.He had put up at the grand Chateau Marmont hotel, in what has been christened the Dominick Dunne Suite in recognition of the 11 months that he lived there in 19 covering the trial of OJ Simpson.But it is for his reporting of high-profile criminal trials that he is most renowned.In his coverage of the trials of Claus von Bulow, OJ Simpson, the Menendez brothers, William Kennedy Smith and Michael Jackson, Dunne has pioneered a unique style of reportage, offering a dramatic rendering of the criminal trial as a mixture of legal process, high theatre and social event, shaping a narrative in which he invariably plays a central part.There are photographs of Dunne with a panoply of Hollywood friends, and on a table a leftover Christmas card from the Hilton family.

Morgan responded with a palimony suit, including a deposition that included sordid details of Bloomingdale's appetite for S&M.When, during a particularly harrowing part of the proceedings, Lana Clarkson's mother, Donna, was reduced to tears, Dunne reached forward to rest a comforting hand on her shoulder, the only person in court to truly understand how she was feeling. Dunne, who at 82 has lived by himself since the break-up of his marriage in the mid-1960s, divides his time between a small apartment in Manhattan and a country home in Connecticut, half an hour's drive from the city of Hartford, where he was born.The Connecticut home is an exquisite colonial-style clapboard house, the back garden sloping down to a wetlands conservancy, where a stream meanders through high grasses.He is usually to be found there two or three times a week, always at the same table, where he can see, and be seen by, everybody who walks in.As we ate (Dunne's order is always the same: the chef's salad and a Diet Coke) a steady stream of people made their way to his table to slap hands and exchange a few words of greeting – a television executive, a publishing big-shot, a high-powered agent.

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