Blood Will Out

The True Story of A Murder, A Mystery, and A Masquerade

Kirn, Walter, 1962-

(Book - 2014)
Average Rating: 3 stars out of 5.
Blood Will Out
WW Norton
A Slate, San Francisco Chronicle, Amazon, and BookPage Best Book of 2014A USA Today Top 10 Best Book of Winter 2014An In Cold Blood for our time, a chilling, compulsive story of a writer unwittingly caught in the wake of a grifter-turned-murderer.
In the summer of 1998, Walter Kirn—then an aspiring novelist struggling with impending fatherhood and a dissolving marriage—set out on a peculiar, fateful errand: to personally deliver a crippled hunting dog from his home in Montana to the New York apartment of one Clark Rockefeller, a secretive young banker and art collector who had adopted the dog over the Internet. Thus began a fifteen-year relationship that drew Kirn deep into the fun-house world of an outlandish, eccentric son of privilege who ultimately would be unmasked as a brazen serial impostor, child kidnapper, and brutal murderer.Kirn's one-of-a-kind story of being duped by a real-life Mr. Ripley takes us on a bizarre and haunting journey from the posh private clubrooms of Manhattan to the hard-boiled courtrooms and prisons of Los Angeles. As Kirn uncovers the truth about his friend, a psychopath masquerading as a gentleman, he also confronts hard truths about himself. Why, as a writer of fiction, was he susceptible to the deception of a sinister fantasist whose crimes, Kirn learns, were based on books and movies? What are the hidden psychological links between the artist and the con man? To answer these and other questions, Kirn attends his old friend’s murder trial and uses it as an occasion to reflect on both their tangled personal relationship and the surprising literary sources of Rockefeller's evil. This investigation of the past climaxes in a tense jailhouse reunion with a man whom Kirn realizes he barely knew—a predatory, sophisticated genius whose life, in some respects, parallels his own and who may have intended to take another victim during his years as a fugitive from justice: Kirn himself.Combining confessional memoir, true crime reporting, and cultural speculation, Blood Will Out is a Dreiser-esque tale of self-invention, upward mobility, and intellectual arrogance. It exposes the layers of longing and corruption, ambition and self-delusion beneath the Great American con.

Baker & Taylor
Describes the author's fifteen-year relationship with eccentric New Yorker Clark Rockefeller, his discovery that Rockefeller was a serial imposter and murderer, and how his old friend's murder trial made him face hard truths about himself.

& Taylor

The true story of a young novelist who meets and befriends an eccentric, privileged New Yorker when he delivers a crippled hunting dog to him from an animal shelter, and later discovers that his friend was a serial imposter and brutal double-murderer.

Publisher: New York :, Liveright Publishing Corporation,, [2014]
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780871404510
Branch Call Number: 364.1523 K
Characteristics: 255 pages ; 25 cm


From Library Staff

In the summer of 1988, the author, Kirn, delivers a dog to the home of Clark Rockefeller, who has adopted the dog over the Internet. Thus began a fifteen-year relationship that drew Kirn into the world of a serial imposter, kidnapper and murderer.

From the critics

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Oct 14, 2014
  • JCLBlakeO rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Walter Kirn echoes Capote’s In Cold Blood in his riveting memoir Blood Will Out: The True Story of a Murder, a Mystery, and a Masquerade, meditating on his friendship with the child kidnapper and murderer Clark Rockefeller (real name: Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter). In a contemplative first person narration, Kirn’s traces the path of their friendship. How did Clark deceived him, Walter, an alumnus of Princeton and Oxford? Because Clark is a man of many masks: Chris Chichester, Charles Smith, Chip Smith – these are just a few of his pseudonyms. Kirn first met Clark in 1998; he drove a handicapped dog from Montana to New York City for Clark. Clark first claims to be a “freelance central banker,” and later other faux professions arise (art collector, physicist, Quaker). The real Clark, Gerhartsreiter, was born in Germany and at age 18 traveled to the US as an exchange student. Walter eventually learns that Clark is a man of multiple convictions: in 2009 for parental kidnapping, assault, and battery; in 2013 for first-degree murder. As the facts accumulate, Kirn sees who “Clark” really is: a liar and a murderer. He realizes his own capacity for egotism while mazing through their encounters; he wanted to believe Clark was Clark because he liked to associate with the aristocracy. When he asks Clark his secret to manipulation in a jailhouse interview, he replies: “Vanity, vanity, vanity.” The epigraph from Patricia Highsmith captures the enigmatic character of Clark best: “He was versatile, and the world was wide!”

Sep 22, 2014
  • eliberg rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

A good enough read because of the different take on a popular (not in a good way) story. The timeline is confusing sometimes, what with the back story being weaved into the current story. I'd give it a 3 out of 5.

Aug 04, 2014
  • Mitzi352 rated this: 1.5 stars out of 5.

More of a self-examination book by an Elmore Leonard wannabe.

Jun 14, 2014
  • hgeng63 rated this: 1 stars out of 5.

I agree with matcat44, but I did finish the whole bk. What the author is doing in this is "vamping", or trying to make more of what little story he has. I didn't really learn anything new about the rich & wealthy.

Jun 02, 2014

Didn't like the style of writing or the personality of the author, so I couldn't really get interested in the subject. Why put that pitiful little dog through such a trauma to please a (seemingly) rich man. Couldn't get past that, so didn't want to know the rest.

May 01, 2014
  • MmeLeChat rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

I could not put this book down! It reads like a thriller even though we already know the outcome. The author's introspection is especially powerful.

Apr 15, 2014

This is a terrific book that describes the amusing peccadilloes of its subject, the kindness of his marks, the brutality of his murders, the identity of his victims, and the literary and cinematic referents that drove his life, all interspersed with the insightful introspection and quality writing of one of his dupes, the author.


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Kirn, Walter, 1962-
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