Friday, February 17, 2012

In Cold Blood

When I first started this book, I was thinking I would probably describe it as the quintessential true-crime novel.  Now that I've finished it, I know that would be a grave injustice.  In Cold Blood laid the foundation upon which all true-crime novels are built.  The fact that it was written by Truman Capote only makes it even more amazing. 

In cold blood chronicles the murder of a family in western Kansas in the late 50's, and the subsequent hunt for their killer/killers.  What makes the book especially interesting, is that the murderers hadn't been caught when Capote commenced research on the novel.  Yet, he still walks the reader through the story with the organization necessary to keep track of the evidence, but the emotion required to bring about the question that any good true-crime novel provokes: Why? 

Capote places himself in an unusual situation as an author.  There is no suspense revolving around who did it or will they get caught.  Everybody new the answer to these questions by the time the book was published.  From the beginning, the book sets out to profile the type of men who could commit such a horrible crime.  We learn about their backgrounds, families, and their relationship with each other.  Endlessly twisting and turning in the mind why they did what they did. Did Dick talk Perry into it?  Did Perry have a plan ulterior to Dicks?  Were both men just insane?

In addition to the why, Capote leaves us wanting to know how; regardless of how gruesome it is.  Early on you learn the outline of how the family ideas, which only leaves you wanting to know more about the scene of the crime.  There are clues dropped here and there in the sections describing the murderers' trek after the crime, but the suspense of it builds and builds until it reaches an apex in the confession room. 

In Cold Blood is suspenseful and well-written.


  1. I swear to you Mandy, I started this book in Buenos Aires airport and didn't let it go until I was landed back in Montreal. It's beautiful, sad, haunting, gruesome, fascinating and oh-so-fucking-visceral and yet maddening at the same time, because I will never write like this.

    Truman Capote wasn't a crime writer at all, but this is his biggest legacy right there. He will be remembered for opening THAT door for crime writers around the world. To speak about THOSE things and get THAT DARK without losing your style. If I had ten books to bring on a desert island, In Cold Blood would probably be one of them.

  2. I love hearing other people comment on what I've read because they often find the words to describe a piece in a way that I just can't.

    I disagree with you on one thing, I wouldn't take it to a desert island. I know I'll never read it again. I'm terrified that I won't get that same feeling that I did from the initial read. It's too 'good' a memory to risk with a second read.