Reviews

The parallels with Patricia Highsmith’s The Talented Mr. Ripley are not lost on Kirn, who spends as much time trying to understand how he and others fell under Gerhartstreiter’s spell as he does relating the primary tale of the criminal himself. Kirn’s candor, ear for dialogue, and crisp prose make for a masterful true crime narrative that is impossible to put down. The book deserves to become a classic.

~ Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

One of the most honest, compelling and strangest books about the relationship between a writer and his subject ever penned by an American scribe… Each new revelation comes subtly, and each adds to the pathetic and creepy portrait of Clark Rockefeller as a vacuous manipulator… The ending of Blood Will Out is at once deeply ambiguous and deeply satisfying. By then, Kirn has looked into the eyes of a cruel, empty man—and learned a lot about himself in the process.

~ Hector Tobar, Los Angeles Times

At the time it surfaced, Rockefeller’s story was widely covered by the media, but that should not prevent anyone familiar with its facts from reading Kirn’s haunting account…Kirn’s voice throughout is witty and sharp. His canny, deceptively casual organization of the narrative heightens suspense, and the words and images in his flowing prose cut like laser beams….For its devastating, unsettling psychological insights and its rich, polished writing, “Blood Will Out” equals Truman Capote’s “In Cold Blood” as a nonfiction novel of crime.

~ Gerald Bartell, San Francisco Chronicle

Walter Kirn’s “Blood Will Out” has a subtitle that bills it as “The True Story of a Murder, a Mystery, and a Masquerade.” It’s got all those things, but it is primarily a tale of seduction…[a] tight, gripping book…”

~ Janet Maslin, New York Times

Kirn is such a good writer and Gerhartsreiter such a baroquely, demonically colorful subject, you could imagine this being a fine read had they no personal connection. That they did, however, elevates Blood Will Out to another level: Kirn lards his story with detail while reviewing his own psyche, in an attempt to discover how he—a journalist!—could have been so fooled. The irony? With all due respect to Kirn’s skills as a novelist, it is hard to conceive of any fictionalized version of ”Clark Rockefeller” being as compelling as the real thing.

~ Clark Collis, Entertainment Weekly A-

Riveting and disturbing, Blood Will Out is a mélange of memoir, stranger-than-fiction crime reporting and cultural critique. The literary markers run the gamut from James Ellroy’s My Dark Places, and Fyodor Doestoevsky’s Crime and Punishment to Patricia Highsmith’s Ripley trilogy and Strangers on a Train. Kirn’s self-lacerating meditations on class, art, vanity, ambition, betrayal and delusion elevate the material beyond its pulpy core… Kirn’s belated acceptance of reality provides the most fascinating and frustrating element of this engaging, self-flagellating memoir.

~ Larry Lebowitz, Miami Herald

The story of Blood Will Out is one of cosmic ironies and jaw-dropping reversals. What makes Blood Will Out so absorbing is its teller more than its subject. Kirn’s persona is captivating—funny, pissed off, highly literate, and self-searching. He’s also an elegant, classic writer… Add the highly readable, intricately told Blood Will Out to the list of great books about the dizzying tensions of the writing life and the maddening difficulty of getting at the truth.

~ Amity Gaige, Slate

[A] fascinating account of the imposter he considered his friend for 10 years. Blood Will Out is an exploration of a hoaxer from the point of view of a mark, and of a relationship based on interlocking deceptions and self-deceptions. The result is a moral tale about the dangers of social climbing on a rickety ladder—for both those trying to scramble up the rungs and those trying to hold it steady below.

~ Heller McAlpin, The Washington Post

Blood Will Out” does a good job of describing the lives of this strange man…but its deeper concern is autobiographical. What made [Kirn] susceptible to Rockefeller’s lies? How was his own, rebetol online reflected by his friend’s outrageous one? The answers make for a haunting, pained and terrifically engaging self-interrogation. Kirn’s tone of middle-aged self-reckoning is unquestionably heartfelt. That’s what makes great memoirs — which this one is — so interesting: They’re at once authentic and performative.

~ Charles Finch, Chicago Tribune

In this smart, real-life psychological thriller, the fake Rockefeller is a zombie Gatsby and Kirn the post-apocalyptic Fitzgerald…

~ Nina Burleigh, New York Times, Sunday Book Review

Interviews

  • CBS 48 Hours
    March 19, 2014, 3:03PM He’s posed as a producer, a trader, a baronet, a Rockefeller. Was a conman hiding a murder along with his identity? Erin Moriarty reports Saturday, March 22 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on CBS.
  • CBS This Morning
    March 21, 2014, 8:34 AM | Novelist Walter Kirn wrote “Blood Will Out: The True Story of a Murder, a Mystery, and a Masquerade” about his one-time friendship with conman “Clark Rockefeller.” Kirn joins the “CBS This Morning” co-hosts to discuss discovering he had been conned.
  • CBS News “Crimesider”
    By Julia Dahl CBS News | If you befriended a murderer, would you know it? In his new book “Blood Will Out: The True Story of Murder, a Mystery and a Masquerade,” Walter Kirn tells the tale of his 10-year friendship with a man he knew as Clark Rockefeller, but whose real name was Christian Gerhartsreiter, a German-born con artist who last year was convicted of murdering, dismembering and burying his landlady’s son in a California backyard in 1985.
  • NPR Weekend Edition
    March 08, 2014 8:00 AM | Meet The Murdering, Kidnapping Imposter Who Fooled Walter Kirn
  • NPR Fresh Air with Terry Gross
    March 10, 2014 11:00 AM | ‘Blood Will Out’ Reveals Secrets Of A Murderous Master Manipulator
  • Walter Kirn New York Times interview of himself
    “Alter Ego Rattles Author’s Ego” | MARCH 19, 2014 | By WALTER KIRN
  • KGO Radio San Francisco
    Sunday, March 16, 5PM | Walter Kirn discusses Blood Will Out.
  • San Francisco Chronicle Q & A
    Tuesday, March 11 at 2:00pm | By John McMurtrie | Walter Kirn was duped — for 15 years. Unlike the victims of Bernard Madoff, he wasn’t conned out of his money. But what happened to Kirn was painful and personal in its own right: he had his trust betrayed by a man he believed was his friend but was in fact a sociopathic murderer.
  • Publisher’s Weekly Q & A
    Jan 17, 2014 | By Kyle Tonniges | Walter Kirn (Up in the Air) had no idea what he was in for when he agreed to deliver an injured dog to “Clark Rockefeller,” a gifted con man and murderer, and the subject of Kirn’s gripping Blood Will Out: The True Story of a Murder, a Mystery, and a Masquerade.
  • Huffington Post “Brief Interviews” series
    Posted: 03/03/2014 10:32 am EST | A Brief Interview With Walter Kirn | Brief Interviews is a new series in which writers discuss language, literature, and a handful of Proustian personality questions.