0135 | In Cold Blood – Truman Capote


Context: Everyone was wrapping presents for Christmas while I read this. Lots of book-like shapes with my name on them there!

A fine piece of reportage which is only really spoiled by one thing: it tells it all pretty much from the viewpoint of the killers. In fact, it’s almost like he set out to ‘understand’ them objectively but forgot that, for those affected by the murders, it can be anything but.

I liked the way that the story is written weaving events and characters backward and forward so that there’s a sense of all the threads coming together. I also liked the fact that in the first part of the book where the crime takes place, Capote makes sure that you get no more information about it than the innocent parties discovering the scene do except for knowing who the killers are. You have no idea of their motive or method. This is great writing; it builds suspense helping you to engage with the victims and those whose job it was to solve the crime.

The end of the book has quite a lot of detail about the pyschological make-up of the killers which I was glad didn’t run on too long. There are a couple of other gruesome stories of other killers on death row too thrown in a little too voyeur-ishly for me at the end.

While ostensibly reportage, the book toys with the questions of motive and reality as well as morality and guilt. But none of these are really developed at all which I suppose is the realm of the novel, not the reporter so that makes sense.

The village of Holcomb stands on the high wheat plains of western Kansas, a lonesome area that other Kansans call ‘out there’.

Then, starting home, he walked towards the trees, leaving behind him the big sky, the whisper of wind voices in the wind-bent wheat.

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Shaun Miller’s Weblog | Miss Shortskirt | A Bookworm’s Reviews | Ready When You Are, C.B. | Bean Bag Books | Tower of Books

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  1. I agree that Capote focused a little too heavily on the hows and whys of the killer’s actions. However, as the pages flew by, I found myself kind of feeling sorry for them and wondering if they could get out of their punishment…. but I knew all along they wouldn’t. And shouldn’t. That sense of justice – that no matter well meaning and underprivileged you might be, there are wrongs you just can’t apologize your way out of – is what I was left with.

    Thanks for the link! Happy Holidays! 🙂

  2. yeah… that’s what I mean. You kind of felt sorry for them and that takes the edge off the nature off the nature of the crime. I’m sure there are people who were angered by making the killers seem so human. But the more complete the understanding, the more complete the mercy…

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