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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 15-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.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Sharon on 05-03-14
Zzzzzzzzzzzzz - this one put me to sleep
A really disappointing read. I kept hoping it would get better, but it never did. The narration didn't help either. The only remotely likable character in it was Shelby, the dog. I heard Walter Kirn interviewed on a couple of radio shows and that made me feel that I wanted to read the book. If I hadn't been stuck reading it on a trans Atlantic flight, I probably would have returned it.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
By Brock on 03-08-14
I really enjoy true crime novels, but this one was more a story about two friends, and the lies one told the other, than it was about the crime. I actually liked Kirn's writing, his descriptions, humor and wit (which is why it gets 3 stars); but somewhere in the book I was hoping the crime story would take center stage. It never really did though, this book majored in the minor details of Kirn's relationship with Clark Rockefeller. Once I realized the book wasn't ever going to hook me, it became hard to finish.
Although this book was a disappointment to me, I liked Kirn's writing style enough that I will look for other books by him. The narrator did an excellent job of reading this story.
10 of 14 people found this review helpful