We Were Killers Once by Becky Masterman (Book 4 in the Brigid Quinn Series)

source: Amazon


We Were Killers Once (*book four in the Brigid Quinn series)  tells the story of Brigid Quinn is a former FBI Agent who is married to Carlos DiForenza, a former priest, and professor. Both Brigid and Carlo are in their sixties. They live a quiet life in Tucson until they get a visit from Jeremiah Randolph Beaufort. Beaufort has been released from prison after serving up to 38 years. He is now in his early sixties. Beaufort now goes by Jerry Nolan (no last name, as Quinn says). Claims he is new in town and other phony information.

Beaufort lives with Gloria, an aged bartender from town. She hasn’t a good life and even less than good men in her life. She’s hoping Beaufort will be different but history tells her different, and Beaufort proves her right.


In 1959 the Clutter family, mother, father, and two kids were killed in Kansas. Taken from the house was $40. But the way Perry Smith tells it they took $1000 from the house. Richard Hitchcock and Smith claim the Clutter family murder was not planned, but many think otherwise. During that same year, the Walker family were murdered in Osprey, Florida. Their murders have gone unsolved to this day. It is believed Hitchcock and Smith killed the Walker family as well, but the solid proof was never found.

Up until, I believed, the mid to later eighties, DNA and all the forensic science we have today was not available to law enforcement. Many crimes were solved by good old fashion police work. However, as mentioned, the Walker family killings were never solved. I think it was luck that the police was able to arrest Hitchcock and Smith on the Clutter family murder.


Carlos was a friend of Father Santangelo who used to volunteer his time at the same prison that Hitchcock and Smith were at after they were caught and convicted of the Clutter family murders. Father Santangelo received a sketch of Perry Smith from Hitchcock who proved to be an excellent artist. This sketch was handed down to Carlos who had planned on giving it to Quinn on their anniversary. Unbeknownst to Carlos, and to Quinn, behind that sketch is a confession by Hitchcock about both the Clutter and Walker murders. And although Beaufort is not named directly in the confession, it is assumed he was or has knowledge of both crimes, especially the Walker murders.

After Quinn discovers the confession by accident things take a turn and Quinn must try to stay two steps ahead of Beaufort while deceiving Carlos.


We Were Killers Once does speak about Truman Capote’s book In Cold Blood and how he got some things wrong, change some things and made the story more out there than it needed to be. This book is Capote’s most famous of them all and his legacy. I have never read Capote’s book and never had the desire. And now that I’ve learned some of the information was misconstrued, I really have no desire to read it.


I enjoyed the book straight away. I knew about the Clutter murders but not about the Walker murders. While reading I thought the latter murder was a made up story but it’s not. I’m not sure why we don’t hear about the Walker murder as we often do about the Clutter murder. Perhaps it’s because the Clutter murder was solved and focusing on what was done instead of what wasn’t is easier.

The book is written in the first person when Quinn is speaking and the third person when speaking about Beaufort. I like books written in the first person for it really puts me in the story. But Materman’s writing is such that when she writes in the third person, you can almost feel, hear, and taste what’s writing. She keeps her stories flowing when switching from the first person to the third person without missing a beat.

My only gripe about the book was the confession by Hitchcock. I skipped a lot of it because it was boring and pointless. What he wrote could have been incorporated within the story and not a separate entry. The relationship between Quinn and Carlos was also drawn out and unnecessary in the length it was spoken about. Even at the end. I believe if the confession and the description of Quinn and DiForenza relationship were shortened by a couple of chapters, I would have gotten through the book faster. Skipping the confession by Hitchcock helped but I couldn’t skip Quinn and DiForenza for there was information needed to understand the rest of the book.

I will say this series reminded me of Patricia Cornwell. Although Cornwell’s books were never a series, it did have the niece that was a bit of a know it all in all her books, as does Masterman’s book. The relationship between the protagonist and the niece in both books are similar.

I highly recommend the book and I am looking forward to Masterman’s next book.


We Were Killers Once, the fourth book in the series by Becky Masterman. *You don’t need to read the other three in order to read this one

  • Publication Date: June 4, 2019
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Language: English

Masterman’s Brigid Quinn series

Book 1
Rage Against Dying 

Remains Found. Confession Secured. Case Closed.

Or at least that’s what the official FBI channels believe.

But Brigid Quinn—a retired agent with a bloody secret of her own—doesn’t think so. They’ve got the wrong man. Which leaves only one question: what would make you confess to a murder you didn’t commit?

And where is the real murderer?  (source: beckymasterman.com)

Book 2
Fear the Darkness

Brigid Quinn has been shot at, stabbed in the spleen with a nail file and used as serial-killer bait. But she’s always been able to trust her instincts and her FBI-training to help her out of danger.

Now, retired from the Bureau and investigating the tragic death of a neighbor’s teenage son, Brigid starts to suffer unexplained bouts of paranoia, hallucinations, and memory loss. And for the first time in her life, she feels vulnerable.

With a mass poisoning at the church, a dead man in town and a grieving family convinced their son’s death wasn’t an accident, Brigid needs to put the pieces together—fast. Because evil has entered her life once more, and this time it’s much closer than she thinks. (source: beckymansterman.com)

Book 3
A Twist of the Knife

Ex-FBI agent Brigid Quinn has seen it all and survived.

But nothing can cut her closer to the bone than family…

Now happily retired in Arizona, Brigid gets called back to her home in Florida where her dad is suffering from pneumonia and her mother is suffering from chronic passive-aggression. Spending time with her dysfunctional family is not her fave thing, so when a close colleague asks for her help in overturning the conviction of a man on death row for killing his wife and three children, Brigid’s spirits are lifted.

Taking on the entire criminal justice system is easier for her than dealing with her embattled parents. That is until Love rears its ugly head and Brigid suspects her colleague is going rogue even more than she ever did… (source: beckymasterman.com)


Additional reading:

The Clutter Family Murder

The Walker Family Murder

1 Comment

  1. Thank you so much for your thoughtful review! Interested readers can go to We Were Killers Once on Amazon, click Look Inside, search Author Note, and find other documentation about the puzzling aspects of In Cold Blood.

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