In his latest book, Blood Will Out, Walter Kirn profiles a slippery eccentric who assumed a string of false identities, conned dozens of people, and left at least one corpse in his wake.
A favor for a neighbor takes Kirn, then a struggling young writer, into the orbit of a man from New York City named Clark Rockefeller. Rockefeller dazzles Kirn with the connections he claims, the high-end artwork he owns, and his prestigious (if convoluted) personal history. Although Kirn is often annoyed, sometimes disturbed, by Rockefeller—an obtuse, often rude man who never picks up the check and requests burdensome favors—Kirn maintains the connection to Rockefeller for years—until Rockefeller is charged with a decades-old murder.
Blood Will Out is more than a biography of a sociopath; it is the examination of a relationship, the sick symbiotic connection between Rockefeller, the con-man/murder, and Kirn, Rockefeller’s perfect mark. The book is fueled by Kirn’s passion as an investigative journalist and his fury at having been such an eager patsy. His anger skews the focus of the book, and Kirn often comes off as self-absorbed, more outraged that he was duped than that Rockefeller nearly got away with a vicious murder. The story, however, is fascinating, and Kirn’s prose is punchy and vibrant. Blood Will Out is a must-read for true-crime fans.