Cold Blooded Fiction: Introducing We Were Killers Once

Becky Masterman, author of the Brigid Quinn mystery series, introduces us to her newest novel, We Were Killers Once. Based off the crimes made famous by Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood, We Were Killers Once wonders what if Richard Hickock and Perry Smith were working with a third man — and what if he was still alive…

We Were Killers Once is the fourth book in my series which began with Rage Against the Dying. In the series, Brigid Quinn is a former FBI special agent now trying to fit into retired life in a small town just outside of Tucson, Arizona. Trying to figure out how to be normal, how to be married, trying to cook, trying to keep her neighbors from finding out she can still kill a man with her bare hands. The series has been nominated for a lot of awards, and rights sold to more than twenty countries.

I’m writing to all of you this time because I’ve never been more excited by a story. Here’s why:

In late 1959, the Clutter family — mother, father, and teenage children — were killed in particularly bloody fashion in a small town in Kansas, two in their beds, two in the basement.

A couple of months later, it happened again. This time to a family named Walker in a small town on the west coast of Florida. A mother, father, and two children under the age of six were shot in their living room near the Christmas tree.

Richard Eugene Hickock and Perry Smith, two petty felons, were convicted of the first mass murder. It was a story of such enduring fascination that a documentary aired as late as 2018, though the crime was initially made famous by Truman Capote in a novel called In Cold Blood. He called the book “immaculately factual.”

Except that everyone now knows it wasn’t.

Though Smith and Hickock were passing through the small town in Florida at the time of the Walker murders, Capote gives that crime a scant few paragraphs. A few interviews, a polygraph test, and that was that. Like Capote, the FBI and Kansas Bureau of Investigation weren’t so interested either. The case is still unsolved.

Who killed the Walker family? What motivated Smith to confess to two of the Kansas murders and then later revise his confession to take responsibility for the entire Clutter family? Why did Hickock, in a clemency hearing, state that they took more than a thousand dollars from the Clutter house, and not the forty dollars that’s in the original confession and Capote’s account? Who was the “hitchhiking boy” and why does Smith dwell on him in the story?

Unanswered questions and discrepancies like these abound among Capote’s story, police reports, several confessions, at least two unpublished manuscripts, and more than a thousand prison documents from the time Hickock and Smith spent on death row.

That brings us to the what-if that authors do, weaving fact and fiction into a narrative puzzle, highlighted with themes of marital jealousy and whether even monsters can change.

What if, in We Were Killers Once, the nameless “hitchhiking boy” that Smith described to Capote traveled with the two men around the country? What if he’s still alive and he’s coming for Brigid Quinn’s beloved husband for reasons known only to himself?

If so, he has no idea what’s in store for him. Because Brigid was a killer once, too.

We Were Killers Once is on-sale June 4, 2019.

Photo © Neal Kreuser

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  1. Kara Todoric

    I can’t wait to read this thriller!

  2. Deborah Turner

    Looks like a great book! Would love to enjoy your work in advance.

  3. DanielM

    sounds interesting

  4. Susan T.

    I am so excited for this book! The Brigid Quinn series is so good!

  5. Rebecca Case

    I would love to read We Were Killers Once by Becky Masterman!! I like Becky’s excellent writing style.

  6. Robert Grieco

    Dang this looks like a read I do not want to miss out on!

  7. Angela Johnson

    This one sounds awesome!

  8. Tiffany

    Wow, this looks so good!

  9. Mary Ann Brady

    Would absolutely love to read this book. Thx.

  10. Elizabeth Deithorn

    The book sleeve alone has drawn me in. Can’t wait to read it!

  11. Linda Longo

    I’d love to read this !

  12. Sherri

    Having just finished the YA No Saints in Kansas, fascination with those two men still wakes me up at night…and if there were a third…would love to read your take on this.

  13. Melissa Basnight

    I read In Cold Blood now I am interested in reading this book to understand the story.

  14. samantha cox

    This is very intriguing, can’t wait to read it.

  15. Debra Patton

    This book sounds very interesting!

  16. Stephanie L Nelson

    This book looks like a great read!

  17. Nancy

    This sounds fascinating. I lived in Kansas for five years and, of course, know about the Clutters and In Cold Blood. But I now live in Florida, and am unfamilar with the Walker case. I’m intrigued!

  18. Deb Philippon

    This book sounds pretty darn interesting. I read In Cold Blood at the dawn of time, and this looks like a good 40 year follow up.

  19. Cassandra Early

    Saw the movie, read the book
    Often wondered if they didn’t have help. Book is one of few that I had to put down once or twice to actually digest what was happening. Would love to read this book.

  20. Sarah Pongracz

    An interesting idea. What if there was a 3rd killer? What if the Walker family in Florida was killed by these 3 men?

  21. L

    Wow! What a premise! I love the idea and I can’t wait to read it!

  22. Margot Sondgeroth

    This looks really intriguing!

  23. Kelley Sullivan

    This book sounds really great. I am so glad I saw it on the web site. Adding to my TBR list now. I would love an advanced copy to read and review.

  24. Karen Terry

    I like that title sounds like a great read.


    I’ve read In Cold Blood several times, and researched alot about the case. I am really looking forward to reading the author’s take, as I have liked her other works.

  26. Carolyn

    Looks like a great book!

  27. ralyra

    What an interesting concept. Sounds like a great read!

  28. Carol Kubala

    There is no better female character out there today. Brigid Quinn’s got it.

  29. Sarah Hollifield

    Who doesn’t love a good twist? And Quinn is full of them

  30. Lisa Altland

    This book sound very interesting. I have not read any of the Brigid Quinn series.


    We were killers once – I would love to read this book and share with the senior center. .Thanks for the chance

  32. helen martin

    What a fascinating idea! Can’t wait to read it.

  33. Alexandra

    I’ve been looking forward to reading this one since I heard about it.

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