In Cold Blood
by Truman Capote
* Warning – This review discusses murder.
As one of the first novels in the true crime genre, this book is iconic and I am glad to have read it, even if only to say that I have. Providing a new perspective on the murder of a family, largely through the eyes of murderer, In Cold Blood offers an interesting insight into the mind of a killer, asking the question of what it means to be good and evil. There is definite value to be gained from this book, but Capote’s writing style made it a difficult read for me.
A perspective that changes everything…
Truman Capote was a masterful writer and this work is well written but …
Maybe, I think too much about these things, but the vibe of this cover seemed to perfectly match the ominous and harrowing mood of this book. I adore the simplicity of the cover art and the muted colors perfectly portrayed the way Capote describes the setting.
This was not an easy read for me (for both bad reasons and good ones). I’m not the kind of person who really likes to read about crime as I find it unnerving, so the fact that this book revolved around a family’s murder was already a negative on my list. To be entirely honest, if this book hadn’t been assigned as summer reading for my AP Language class, I probably would never have finished it.
It was hard to read.
The biggest issue with this novel was how terribly wordy it was. There was an excess of information for just about everything and it made the pacing very, very slow. When Capote set out to chronicle this murder, he apparently made sure to not leave a single thing out. (Seriously, we’re even told what Herbert Clutter ate for breakfast the morning before things went down.) The sheer volume of information was overwhelming, and I found myself struggling to take it all in. I believe this was intentional to create a very detailed picture of events but for me, some of the information was unnecessary and quite frankly boring.
Don’t get me wrong the words are well written, there’s just a lot of them.
It is clear from the beginning of the story (and the back of the book) that *spoiler alert* the Clutters were murdered. I was pretty certain that knowing what happened would completely annihilate any suspense or desire to read the story, but In Cold Blood hooked me anyway. I was willing to wade through the excessive descriptions if only to find out more about this story.
The biggest thing to be gained from this story is a new perspective. In Cold Blood is told through shifting perspectives which really helps to paint a very wide and full picture of the murder and its repercussions, that was interesting. What really fascinated me most though was the perspective of the two killers. Their humanity in some places was incredibly surprising and it was beyond strange, for me, to understand (though definitely not condone) the decision to commit these murders.
The Last Word
If this book is something you can handle then I recommend it simply for its power to potentially change your perspective. This is definitely not for everyone. In Cold Blood revolves around a very mature and slightly disturbing subject matter, for me, but that is part of what makes it good. It is a novel that makes you think and consider the questionable morality of human nature and the divide between ‘good’ and ‘evil’.
There is tremendous value to be gained from this story …
Age Group: Adult (discusses a murder)
Related Cause: Tolerance
Summary: Murder from a different point of view.