“And Every Word Is True meticulously lays out a vivid and startling new view of the investigation, one that will keep readers on the edge of their seats as they pick up where Capote left off.”
For the true crime fan, Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood is a masterstroke of true crime writing. Shining a captivating and spellbinding light on the murder of the Clutter family in Kansas in 1959, Capote’s non-fiction novel approach to the telling of a shocking true crime case made his book an international bestseller. Today, more than 50 years after it was published, In Cold Blood regularly appears in the Amazon Top 10 books list across multiple categories including true crime, criminology, and American history.
On 15 November 1959, two men entered the Clutter family home near Holcomb, Kansas and demanded to know where the safe was. They had been assured by a shady prison associate that Herbert Clutter kept large sums of money in his property. On the discovery of no safe and no money, Perry Smith and Richard Hickock brutally murdered Herbert Clutter, his wife Bonnie Clutter and their two teenage children, Kenyon and Nancy Clutter. They stole little of value from the home and fled the scene.
Truman Capote took a small town murder case of an entire family and brought it into the homes of millions worldwide in an era where televisions weren’t mainstream, the news was in print and the internet didn’t exist.
The Kansas Bureau of Investigation (KBI) has always supported and promoted In Cold Blood as an accurate depiction of the Clutter murder case from start to finish. Although the book was not without its critics, the world believed what they read and the Clutter murder case remained suspended in history entirely framed by this one book.
And Every Word Is True provides new revelations indicating that one of the most famous murder cases in America, made famous through the literary work of Truman Capote, is not as clear-cut as we were led to believe.
Truman Capote once said himself during an interview with Newsweek in 1966, one year after the book was published, “It’s a completely factual account and every word is true.” A statement that gave this new book its name.
And Every Word Is True written by Gary McAvoy has taken six years of research to produce. Six years of painstaking exploration and critical analysis with fresh eyes on fresh evidence. The discovery of personal papers and notebooks of Harold R. Nye, a lead field investigator in the Clutter murder case and Special Agent for the Kansas Bureau of Investigation who went on to become the Bureau’s Director, has broken the Clutter killings wide open.
This material along with letters and writings from Smith and Hickock, while they were on death row, has uncovered startling information about this case and the investigation into it that casts In Cold Blood in an entirely new light.
Gary McAvoy has not written this book in a quest to discredit In Cold Blood or Truman Capote. In fact, he is highly respectful to both throughout the book ensuring the reader knows this is not his intention. And Every Word Is True is clearly presented as a sequel rather than a critique.
The battle both the author and Ronald Nye, Harold Nye’s son who found the materials after his father’s death, have faced in maintaining rightful ownership of the papers and notebooks of Harold Nye has been drawn-out, expensive and painful. The entire existence of And Every Word Is True is due to the discovery of these new materials and the dogged determination of the State of Kansas to have them seized. It was determination which only served to fuel these two men to maintain their stance and resolve to fight the lawsuit Kansas filed against them and go on to win.
The documents, notebooks, and reports that were the possessions of Harold R. Nye are invaluable materials. Raw and untouched they tell the story of events in the Clutter family murder case that is unbiased and uninfluenced by any outside factor. They reveal a number of secrets buried underneath the enormity that was In Cold Blood and the version of events authorities are keen to maintain.
And Every Word Is True challenges a number of baseline facts we thought we knew; the rosy picture of family life and upstanding community member in Herbert Clutter and the motive for the murders being a simple robbery. Furthermore, it introduces new questions; was there a third man involved in the killings? Were the Clutters killed under a murder-for-hire plot or was Herbert Clutter targeted due to unsatisfactory business dealings in the community by someone local holding a grudge?
McAvoy also introduces how the perspective of the Clutter murder case presented by Capote may have been heavily influenced by the KBI to ensure the details of the case matched how they wanted the story to be told. The KBI it seems had something to hide demonstrated through their efforts to destroy case files and the bizarre and extraordinary lengths they went to in order to try and seize all the personal materials and documentation of Nye senior and prevent any form of publication arising from them.
This book is methodically presented working through all the key people involved in the case from the murder victims to the investigators and the perpetrators, revealing new details along the way. It is a fast-paced book that keeps your attention throughout while skillfully prompting your own questions at every step.
It is a little repetitive in places with the effort made to ensure the true facts of the lawsuit, the materials and the right to keep and publish them are included. However, the significance of this lawsuit to the development of the book and the story itself makes this a minor point.
Clear conclusions and well-presented materials to support new theories and hypotheses are put forward which keeps the writing grounded and concise. The pages include a fascinating look at the materials themselves from notes to interview reports all serving to piece this story together.
There is admiration for the dedication to seeing this project through and the time and effort put into this writing is abundantly clear. Whether you have read In Cold Blood or not, the Clutter family murder case and this remarkable book will have you engrossed, curious and following the trail for the truth.
‘And Every Word Is True’ by Gary McAvoy is published by Literati Editions and is available at Amazon[wp-review id=”18430″]