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