In Cold Blood ★★★★☆
Genre(s) | Nonfiction, Crime, Classic
Goodreads Rating | 4.05
Humpo Show Rating | 4.10
Published | 1966
Publisher | Penguin Random House
A fully deserving literary classic
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 that led to the capture, trial, and execution of the killers, 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.
Capote’s true crime novel is billed as a literary classic – and having raced through the final two parts, I can confirm that In Cold Blood is fully deserving of the status that has been bestowed upon it. The combination of facts with a writing style more commonly associated with fiction help to create an intelligible book that comprehensively covers all aspects of the case, from beginning to end.
Capote goes over every possible detail, which rather hindered my reading of the story in the early stages given that the main event had not occurred yet. We were introduced to every member of the Clutter family in exquisite detail, particularly head of the household, Herb, and multi-talented and much loved 16-year-old Nancy. This helps to lay the groundwork for when the inevitable happens. He also gives plenty of coverage of the murderers Dick and Perry in the open passages which helps to build their characters, that is expanded upon during their escapades across the U.S. and everywhere else. Without the initial introductions and extensive coverage of their lives and personalities, which I laboured throughout somewhat, we as readers would not react as strongly towards the offenders and the Clutters in such a manner than we would have without the prior knowledge about them all.
The writing style is the abiding memory I will take from my reading of Capote’s masterpiece. The murders and the story behind them are fascinating in themselves, but told through Capote’s style makes it memorable. In modern times we have become perhaps a little numbed by horrific deaths, murders etc, as we hear the worst of the worst on the news on a daily basis and through TV and film, but the apparently motiveless and brutal murder of the Clutters still has the shock value sixty years on, and for fans of detective and forensic shows, you’ll be treated to the police work, investigations and interviews that were compelling and gave fantastic insight into the mindset of a investigating officer’s home life.
In Cold Blood is the one nonfiction crime story that you must read should any of you delve into that particular genre. Capote’s writing style, the fascinating story concerning all parties, and the way it all comes together helps to make it such an important and brilliantly written story. It truly deserves the classic status attributed to it.
The Humpo Show | Richard