“The village of Holcomb stands on the high wheat plains of western Kansas, a lonesome area that other Kansans call “out there.”
One of my holiday reads while I was in Dubrovnik was In Cold Blood by Truman Capote, an author more well-known for his work of Breakfast at Tiffany’s. At a college introductory day I became aware of this book, as it was one of the books I would have studied had I attended that college. We read an extract of it and were told the basic storyline: the true story of a Kansas family murdered in their home. Fact written as fiction. Of course I was intrigued.
“Time rarely weighed upon him, for he had many methods of passing it.”
Capote had me gripped from the very beginning. The writing really built up the anticipation leading up to the murders. It would describe a scene that appeared perfectly happy and then add another line on the end that brought the reality back to you with a jolt. For example, after the description of Nancy’s bedroom and showing her laying out the dress she was going to wear the next day then Capote telling us that “it was the dress in which she was to buried.” Things like that hit you hard and make you more aware of the story the book follows and the fact that it actually happened.
“Imagination, of course, can open any door—turn the key and let terror walk right in.”
After the murders take place, Capote shows the reactions of the locals - the people who knew the Clutters - as they discover the fate of the people they know and love. It was heartbreaking and you could really sense how distrust spread throughout the community.
“The compulsively superstitious person is also very often a serious believer in fate; that was the case with Perry.”
An air of mystery is maintained throughout the novel, only explaining the motive in the third out of the four chapters. We’re kept in the dark just as the police are (except that we know from the start who the murderers are). Speaking of the murderers, Capote shows them as being unnervingly human. Perry Smith loved poetry and literature. Dick Hickock had a young family. However, we get to know them and their minds better throughout the novel. It’s quite scary in a way actually.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was one of the best books I’ve read in ages. I’m actually quite glad that I won’t be studying it in the end; I think I’d get tired of it and then dislike it, which would be horrible! I can, however, understand why people mentioned in the book (the families of friends of the murdered and murderers) wouldn’t like the book. There’s a huge amount of detail involved and I know that if I was them I wouldn’t be comfortable with it being made as public as it was.
“And I lay awake wondering if either one was bothered by it - the thought of those four graves.”
This is a book I would totally recommend to anyone interested. Incredible writing telling a fascinating story.
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