‘In Cold Blood’ by Truman Capote



BLURB: ‘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.’ (Goodreads.com)

MADE ME FEEL: Empathetic, angry, sad.

READ IF YOU LIKE: Hard-hitting, non-fiction accounts of murder. Lots of law jargon. Questions of morality and justice. Mesmerising suspense and a look into American violence and justice. 

PAGE COUNT: Approx.336 (Penguin Modern Classics version)

STAR RATING: (★★★★★) – one of my all time favourites. 


After discovering my recent love for American Literature, ‘In Cold Blood’ seemed like a perfect way to explore this genre, and if you haven’t read this modern classic, I urge you strongly. This is a non-fiction account, reconstructing the murder of the four members of the Clutter family in 1959 Kansas, murdered by the strange duo of Perry Smith and Richard Hickock. The fact that this true crime novel has set the bar for the genre, and that many true crime books still following the same template set by Capote, is a true credit and reflection of this book’s mastery.
Capote’s unique style of writing comprises both imagination and rich description, along with a journalistic quirk that reminds us that this is a true story. The journalistic nature of the book is probably its selling point, one of my favourite aspects of this book are the embedded quotes of people, newspaper headlines, snapshots of radio broadcasts, little snippets that allow you to better know the small area of Holcomb, Kansas. This book allows the reader to see both true horror and violence, but also deeply get to know individuals that are expertly portrayed by Capote.

The book begins with the descriptions of the lives of each member of the Clutter family, their habits, their daily routines, their relationships with others. Even though the premise of the book is their murder, and the reader knows this from the beginning, Capote conveys their likeability so well in the first 60 pages that it genuinely is heartbreaking when they die. Even after the tragic event, Holcomb’s wide range of personalities all seem to be affected in different ways, and you keep on getting to know the Clutter family through their acquaintances. The fact that this is true crime also sheds light onto how this small town will still be affected by the Clutter murders today.738203

The wonderful thing about this book is that it doesn’t do the work for you…

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‘The Wasp Factory’ by Iain Banks



MADE ME FEEL: Intruiged, mildly horrified.

READ IF: You like gothic horror or strange 16 year old boys doing weird boyish stuff. Books with twists at the end. Short, easy reads.

PAGE COUNT: approx 244


The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks is definitely one of the strangest and imaginative novels I have read in my short life. Written in the 1980s, it documents the strange and twisted world of Frank Cauldhame, who is portrayed perfectly on his secluded Scottish island, his extraordinary habits and ways of living described with minute attention to detail by Banks. I had a crystal clear view of the entire setting, and Banks describes everything with such precision, especially descriptions of people and their various mannerisms. Its an extremely satisfying and consequentially very easy read.

This is the kind of book that takes and takes and leaves you on edge for nearly all of the book and then all is given back to you in a sudden whirl of events at the end. Some people hate it, but I love being kept in the unknown and I found myself constantly trying to decipher what everything meant through the whole book. If you do not like being told everything at the very last minute, this book is definitely not for you. There are definitely disadvantages to Banks’ way of writing in this way. The last two chapters were SO intense I had to read them over and over again, and it almost felt slightly rushed and haphazard. However, this was saved by the storyline, I was so busy dropping my jaw, I hardly noticed it.

Speaking of jaw-dropping, I almost screamed and threw up at the same time upon reading why Eric went crazy, and the image of the smiling child in the hospital will stay with me for a very long time. Any book that makes you physically drop it is definitely worth merit. The vivid imagery was certainly disgusting and made me writhe, but I think that just makes it all the more better. I did have some issues with the plot line however. I thought that most of the book had been building up to Eric’s return home, and when he did eventually in the last pages, the dialogue I had been anticipating between the two brothers wasn’t really there, and that was disappointing, as I had built up high hopes for what would happen upon his return. The scene that did occur between them should have been huge and intense and it could have been, but was brushed off after a few pages and unnaturally mixed in with Frank’s altercations with his father. Also, and I have a feeling this isn’t just my stupidity, WHAT IS THE WASP FACTORY??? I could never quite grasp what it actually was, or the meanings behind it or how it gained such a stronghold over Frank’s mind. I nearly understand the clock business, but racking my brains even now after I’ve just finished reading the book, can’t seem to understand how this had a relevance in his life.

Overall, this book definitely lived up to its hype, with flowing passages, witty dialogue and crude humour with underlying gothic horror tones, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.