And Every Word Is True
Newfound evidence reveals Truman Capote's "In Cold Blood" is not the end of the story.
“In Cold Blood is the story of these six people:
The Clutters, who died together November 15, 1959; and
Perry Smith and Richard Hickock, who were hanged April 14, 1965.
My book is the story of their lives and their deaths.
It’s a completely factual account
And every word is true.”
Truman Capote’s bestselling book In Cold Blood has captivated worldwide audiences for over fifty years. It is a gripping story about the consequences of a trivial robbery gone terribly wrong in a remote village of western Kansas.
But what if robbery was not the motive at all, but something more sinister? And why would the Kansas Bureau of Investigation press the Attorney General to launch a ruthless four-year legal battle to prevent fresh details of the State’s most famous crime from being made public, so many years after the case had been solved?
Based on stunning new details discovered in the personal journals and archives of former KBI Director Harold Nye—and corroborated by letters written by Richard Hickock, one of the killers on Death Row—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. Even readers new to the story will find themselves drawn into a spellbinding forensic investigation that reads like a thriller, adding new interpretations to the classic tale of an iconic American crime.
With a special Foreword and personal stories by Ronald Nye, son of KBI Special Agent and lead Clutter murder investigator Harold R. Nye.
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Published March 4, 2019
The Clutter Murder Files
Also by Gary McAvoy, The Clutter Murder Files is an interactive multi-touch companion edition to And Every Word Is True, featuring original primary source documents prepared by Special Agent Harold Nye, as featured in Truman Capote’s book In Cold Blood.
Editorial Reviews for And Every Word Is True
“McAvoy writes in a clear-eyed, no nonsense prose style ideally suited to the true crime genre. The author capably and meticulously details information in a manner that will keep readers engaged. By combining elements of true crime and memoir, McAvoy offers an immersive account of an infamous murder case. Most unusually, the author raises compelling questions about the veracity of Truman Capote’s accounts and the role that In Cold Blood played in influencing public opinion.”
“McAvoy, a dealer of collectible manuscripts and other memorabilia, delivers an often captivating addendum to the Clutter family murder case, immortalized in Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood. When Ron Nye, the grown son of police investigator Harold Nye, finds a box of his late father’s papers, he contacts McAvoy about selling the material. Beyond his interest in the correspondence between Capote and Nye, McAvoy’s curiosity spikes after the Kansas attorney general demands the papers, claiming them to be the property of the Kansas Bureau of Investigation. Challenges to the veracity of In Cold Blood are in no way new, but McAvoy offers fresh details relating to Capote’s embellishments and omissions, such as leaving out details concerning Bonnie and Herbert Clutter’s marriage and family reputation. McAvoy also explores the possibility that the killers, Richard “Dick” Hickock and Perry Smith, were hired, as suggested in handwritten documents by Hickock. Intriguingly, he also addresses the potential influence of law enforcement on Capote’s work: “a case could be made, then, that In Cold Blood was as much a product of the KBI’s guiding hand as it was Capote’s flowing pen.” McAvoy’s disclosures are provocative, if not earthshaking; most notably, McAvoy echoes Capote’s potent prose style and deep humanizing of his subjects, while broadening the conversation about truth, intention, and narrative representation.” —PUBLISHERS WEEKLY/BookLife
“In a bit under 300 pages, the author manages to detail the importance of the evidence that he uncovered as an auctioneer helping out Ronald Nye, who had saved some items of his father’s from a purge of paperwork by Ronald’s mother, the investigator’s widow. After some very lengthy acknowledgements, a foreword, and an introduction, the author begins his revisionist work with a look at the case file for the Clutter murder and what it contains, at least as best as can be determined thanks to the copies made by Harold Nye. After that, there is a discussion of the defendants, the motive for the murder (which was officially thought to be just a robbery but which appears to be considerably more complex), the case’s search & seizure, and discovery. A lengthy section follows that looks at the lineup of various people involved in the research of “In Cold Blood,” including Capote and Nelle Harper Lee, Mr. and Mrs. Clutter (two of the murder victims), Kenneth Lyon, the KBI itself, KBI investigator Alvin Dewey, assistant investigator Harold Nye, assistant police chief Richard Rohelder, inmate William Floyd Wells, Jr., and reporter Starling Mack Nations. The author then moves into the question of privileged communications as well as the suspicions of various people, a look at the obstruction committed by Kansas that indicated they had something to hide, a closing argument by the author, as well as the question of closure before the book concludes with an index, bibliography, and endnotes.
By and large, this is a book that demonstrates that the Kansas Bureau of Investigation did indeed have something to hide. While Herbert Clutter is found to have been a flawed man, engaging in an affair and caught up in some political drama involving his savvy as a businessman/farmer, and Capote is found to have been a bit petty regarding his refusal to give Nelle Harper Lee the credit she was due in helping to encourage the wagging tongues of Kansas locals put off by Capote’s flamboyant effeminacy, the justice system of Kansas itself comes off the worst by far. This is perhaps to be expected given the rush to silence and punish the murderers, the refusal to follow leads that would have examined the murder of the Clutters as a contract killing, and the attempt on the part of the state to seize and destroy evidence about the case that puts them in a less than flattering light, and even their role in feeding Capote misinformation that made his famous book less accurate than it could have been had Capote been working with the full details that the state had access to. What has been portrayed as a simple murder with a motive of robbery turns out to have been anything but. Rather, it points to evidence that there is indeed something rotten in the state of Kansas — and that crimes committed more than half a century ago can still threaten the legitimacy of enough people in positions of political authority that they would prefer such truth and evidence to remain hidden.” — NATHAN ALBRIGHT
“What a fascinating book! I read it with interest and much admiration… The author has done a great service in highlighting the limitations of journalism in ever trying to pin down what really happened, and all fans of In Cold Blood must surely appreciate the way in which McAvoy tied together so many different and previously hidden aspects of the case… Completely engrossing, so lucidly written and so interesting that I read it in a single session, pausing only to eat!” — DAVID ROBINSON, former Books Editor, The Scotsman (UK) and author of In Cold Ink
“And Every Word Is True kept me absolutely spellbound. In painstaking detail, McAvoy has peeled back the underlying layers of a story we thought we already knew. I couldn’t put it down!” — MICHAEL OHOVEN, Oscar-nominated producer of the 2005 film Capote starring Philip Seymour Hoffman; CEO of Infinity Media
‘What if all you thought you knew about the 1959 Kansas Clutter family murder case from Truman Capote’s famed In Cold Blood wasn’t entirely true? In Cold Blood was a first in true crime writing and remains a bestseller more than 50 years after it was first published. Very much in a sequel rather than a critique, And Every Word Is True by Gary McAvoy breaks open the Clutter murder case and the investigations that followed revealing some startling secrets. Using the personal papers and notebooks of Harold R. Nye, one of the senior investigators on the case, McAvoy and Nye’s son Ronald Nye, have been on a painstaking journey. Sued by the State of Kansas in a desperate bid to seize the materials and prevent their publication served to highlight the KBI had something to hide. And Every Word Is True is the result of six years of legal battle and diligent research to reveal new revelations about the motives behind these brutal murders, who may have been involved and the pressure and influence the KBI had over Capote and the story he told in In Cold Blood. Well-written and expertly presented, And Every Word Is True is a must read for any true crime fan. The story of the Clutter family murders is far from complete.” — FIONA GUY, Crime Traveller 5-Star Review
“And Every Word is True will take you back to that night in Holcomb, Kansas, November of 1959, when two hard-luck men slaughtered an entire family in their farmhouse for a few meager dollars—changing forever our definitions of fear, safety, and how we sleep at night. Now, Gary McAvoy’s scrupulously researched book shines new light on some of the conclusions drawn by the Kansas Bureau of Investigation—and later endorsed by Truman Capote’s classic In Cold Blood. McAvoy has done a great job of bringing to life a history that is still alive and still terrifying, and now, perhaps, even richer.” — T. JEFFERSON PARKER, Edgar Award-winning author of Silent Joe, California Girl, and The Room of White Fire
“This book turns the Clutter murder case inside out! Truly an eye-opener into a part of my father’s life where I really thought I had known all of the salient details. This was more than just a ‘good read’—this was a compelling work of factual art.” — DEAN ROHLEDER, Son of Garden City Assistant Chief of Police Richard Rohleder, the acknowledged “hero” of the Clutter murder investigation
“As deputy sheriff in Garden City at the time, I can say without reservation that Mr. McAvoy has done admirable work here. He has clarified many of the ‘facts’ in Capote’s book, and pulled back the curtain to expose many contradictions in the Clutter investigation.” — KEITH DENCHFIELD, former Deputy Sheriff of Finney County, Kansas, and son-in-law of Undersheriff Wendle & Josephine Meier
“With a passion, tenacity, and respect for facts that would make original investigator Harold Nye proud, Gary McAvoy has joined forces with Nye’s son, Ronald, to challenge the official story of the notorious Clutter family murders, the same version Truman Capote chronicled in his sensational bestseller In Cold Blood. Using a combination of reverence for accuracy, old-fashioned gumshoe gutsiness, and his own considerable writing skills, McAvoy has exhaustively researched, fought for, and produced a book that will keep the reader gripped until the very last word—and this time, all the words are true.” — TAWNI O’DELL, New York Times bestselling author of Back Roads, an Oprah’s Book Club selection
“Sure to provoke debate, Gary McAvoy’s book is simultaneously wonderful and unsettling. Criminal justice professionals will find nuggets to be mined as he challenges us to leave our comfort zones. Casual readers of true crime will be spellbound. No matter which “side” you land on, McAvoy’s elegant style is one that even Truman Capote could embrace.” — SALLY J. KEGLOVITS, Supervisory U.S. Probation Officer (retired) and Lecturer in Criminal Justice, DeSales University
“McAvoy was well-placed to spot intriguing inconsistencies in the infamous Clutter murder investigation. His work reminds us to be wise about bias in human narratives, even when they’re beloved classics.” — DR. KATHERINE RAMSLAND, author of Confession of a Serial Killer: The Untold Story of Dennis Rader, the BTK Killer
“With gripping intensity, And Every Word is True is a page-turning thriller that unravels a fascinating web of deception, one as frightening and disturbing as the infamous crime itself. Revealing fresh evidence collected through a variety of sources—most notably the actual notebooks used by KBI detective Harold Nye as he worked tirelessly to solve the case—McAvoy has uncovered never-before-told information that challenges not only the veracity of Capote’s own retelling of the crime, but of the very legal system that prosecuted the case. Since In Cold Blood is a vital part of the course curriculum I teach, such a classic story wouldn’t be complete without having this book as its companion.” — FRAN LIBRA KOENIGSDORF, Honors English teacher of In Cold Blood since 1982, Johnson County, Kansas
“Gary McAvoy has an unbridled passion for literature, history and research, which are all on display in vivid detail in And Every Word is True, his collaboration with Ronald Nye that revisits the story of the Clutter family murders that became Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood. This is a fascinating account of previously unpublished material regarding the case, kept hidden from the public, journalists and biographers. For enthusiasts of accounts of true crime and mystery, this is a worthy addition to your library.” — ADRIANA TRIGIANI, New York Times bestselling author of Big Stone Gap and Kiss Carlo
“Some books you can’t wait to finish; some books you never want to end. For me, Gary McAvoy’s riveting new book, And Every Word is True, was so intriguing that I did not want it to finish.” — BETH MORONEY, Former teacher of Creative Writing and Journalism, and administrator in the Edison NJ Public School District
“In 1966, after reading in Truman Capote’s final pages of In Cold Blood that the ‘instigator’ of the Clutter family murders was now serving a 30-year sentence for bank robbery at the Mississippi State Penitentiary in Parchman, I pursued and got a rare personal interview with Floyd Wells at the prison. Following that interview and a re-study of the Capote book, I figured I knew as much about the Kansas murder case as any other writer. And this assumption, when restricted to Truman Capote’s creative fiction, was probably accurate, because we all were referring at the time to the only public record the masses had available. However….
Now we learn (thanks to the indefatigable work of Gary McAvoy and Ron Nye) that Capote may have been somewhat deceptive with his narrative and had not only ignored investigative evidence revealing new motives, but had denied proper credit to those investigators who had exposed it. More than a half century later, Ron Nye had the foresight to salvage and save his father’s records revealing the real facts of the case. And now we learn that even the Kansas Bureau of Investigation appears to have been involved in some form of cover-up, highlighting the importance of the truth-seeking, fact-finding mission by McAvoy and Nye in And Every Word Is True. It appears that the KBI caught the culprits but missed the real motive.
For all this, McAvoy and Nye well deserve a ‘5-Star’ review for And Every Word Is True. The book’s title is absolutely perfect—once the reader discovers its source. I am delighted to tout their truth-seeking mission to the world, only regretting that the message came so late. Fifty years ago, this book would have outsold Capote’s giant bestseller. The details of WHY are revealed inside the book.” — PAT SHANNAN, Editor, Independent News International