Author: Truman Capote
Genre: True Crime
Published: January, 1966
Synopsis: On November 15, 1959, in the small town of Holcomb, Kansas, four members of the Clutter family were savagely murdered by blasts from a shotgun held a few inches from their faces. There was no apparent motive for the crime, and there were almost no clues.
As Truman Capote reconstructs the murder and the investigation, he generates both mesmerizing suspense and astonishing empathy. In Cold Blood is a work that transcends its moment, yielding poignant insights into the nature of American violence.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
“I thought that Mr. Clutter was a very nice gentleman. I thought so right up to the moment that I cut his throat.”
To put it simply, I'm not a fan of the genre "true crime." I don't like reading about the murders of real people, knowing what I read really happened. If this book hadn't been required reading for an English class, I can guarantee I wouldn't have even thought about reading it. So this book had an uphill battle for me to like it. In the end, did I like it? Eh.....
In Cold Blood is about the true story of the Clutter family. It is about how over the course of one night an entire town gets turned upside down when they find 4 members of its community murdered. The focus of the book, however, is mostly about the two men who committed the crime, and what happened to them.
It should be made clear that I have never looked at the pictures of the people involved in this story, because I knew it would mess me up. I never wanted to see what the Clutters looked like, or their slayers. And because I made this choice, I think it improved the book for me. The way it is written feels a lot like a fiction book, and I could distance myself easier because of that (which gave me an entirely different relationship with the book).
It was fascinating and disgusting how much empathy I felt towards the killers. Capote went out of his way to humanize them, and although I hated him doing that, it made for a better story. By the end of the book, I felt pity for all of the people mentioned, even the ones who were truly despicable. And that made me feel gross (not sure if this is a compliment to Capote or not).
If nothing else, Capote is amazing at writing this genre. The book is very well-written, and he incorporates letters and interviews seamlessly into the narrative. He shares lots of unnecessary details, but I found them more interesting and helpful to the worldbuilding than distracting or boring.
One complaint I do have is that the last section of the book (part 4) really dragged for me. It was all about wrapping up loose ends, but it just kept introducing all these new things, and at that point in the book I just wanted it to end. The last section needed to be shorter and tighter.
The book to me was just "fine." I didn't have a strong reaction to it, but it did make me feel disgusted with the men involved and with myself for finding any shred of enjoyment in the book. I'm sure once I talk about the book in class I'll feel more strongly about it, but for now three stars seems right.