book reviews

In Cold Blood

Truman Capote

I should know better by now than to read books about murder before bed, yet here I find myself again, unable to sleep.

In Cold Blood is a nonfiction novel that recounts the heinous murders of the Clutter family who were well-known around town as decent and respectable people. Things like this never happened in the small Kansas town of Holcomb, especially not to a family that had no apparent troubles that would bring about such a crime. Truman Capote takes a deep dive into the lives of the murdered family as the novel attempts to make sense of such a nonsensical crime. A parallel narrative occurs throughout the novel that focuses on the perpetrators of the crime and follows their actions before, during, and after the murders. Spliced within the story are accounts from residents of the town so as to shed some more light on the family and to gain insight on how to murders greatly affected the town itself.

Grimy and uncomfortable, that’s how I felt when I finished reading this book. Is it because it was published in 1966? Does it being old have any influence on the creep factor? I’m thinking yes because I am seriously unnerved.

While extremely well written, often times the writing feels detached, working more with the facts than the emotions of the case. Obviously it’s difficult to project sympathy and emotion on two individuals who have committed a crime so lacking in humanity, but the whole effect makes the plot difficult to relate with because its excessively disconnected.

I know, I know — it’s a murder narrative so it’s meant to be scary and usually that is totally my thing, but I could not get into this. It’s an interesting case, but not super fun to read about. And yes, reading is not all about “fun” but I don’t enjoy reading things that make me feel so queasy. 

In Cold Blood is greatly acclaimed and is one of the top selling crime novels ever, so my opinion may be in the minority. I think readers who are looking for unease and mystery and creepiness would enjoy this. The circumstances around the crime are very interesting and the book builds up the crime itself and the ensuing events in a clever way, so don’t let my thoughts dissuade you from picking it up if it is a book you think you would enjoy!

I give In Cold Blood three stars because I can respect the writing and the complex story that it weaves. However, it was just not my cup of tea and it didn’t speak to me in the way that it was probably intended to.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

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