In Cold Blood

Monday, September 17, 2018

In Cold Blood
Truman Capote, 1966

Read Harder Challenge 2018 - A book of true crime

Premise: The true story of a multiple murder and its aftermath.

True crime might be enjoying a recent popularity boost, but Capote’s classic is still one of the pinnacles of the genre.

For this challenge, first I tried to read a more recent book, but I gave up under the weight of a well-researched but interminable narrative. This book, on the other hand, is tightly narrated and carefully structured to maintain emotional tension.

Some responses to this “nonfiction novel” claim that not every bit of dialogue and nuance of character is truthful, but the research is clear to the reader without ever being overt. The various threads - the lives of the victims, the feelings of those left behind, and the psychology and history of the murderers - are skillfully interwoven to build a story with the kind of fully realized texture that is rare for any type of writing (fiction or non) to achieve.

Much like the other things I’ve read by Capote, the writing paints complex, caring pictures of every type of person. The book does an excellent job of providing context and understanding for the killers without excusing or glamourising anything about them.

It’s a tragedy on every side, and a compelling picture of intersecting lives.

4 Stars - A Very Good Book

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