What is it about?
In November of 1959 a small, gentle town in Kansas was rocked by the vicious quadruple murder of the Clutters – a family that was well thought of in the community and had not a single enemy. Two of those murdered were two teenage children, Nancy (16) and Kenyon (14). It was almost the perfect crime; no motive, and absolutely no evidence apart from a set of footprints invisible to the human eye. Whilst the KBI scratches their collective head over the tragedy, two thieves called Perry Smith and Dick Hickock are racing through the country, chasing after dreams of gold in Mexico, confident that their forty-dollar murder will never be traced back to them. But justice catches up with everyone in the end.
Is it any good?
In Cold Blood is the definitive example of narrative journalism, which surely must have been an absolute labour of love for Capote. He got to know those involved, and was given unprecedented access to the two mass-murderers, meaning that he really got to know every aspect of this true-crime story. He sets the scene well, dedicating around a quarter of the book to laying out the lives of the Clutter family, which works as it gives the reader the full impact of their horrific murders. But at the same time, Capote doesn’t write about Perry and Dick as though they are murderers; he writes about them as though they are people, making them very almost likable (in Perry’s case especially – many people have come to the conclusion that Capote was actually intimately involved with Perry) which in turn makes them human. It’s easy to forget that In Cold Blood is not fiction because Capote writes as though he’s the master of the story which, of course, he is.
How long did it take to read: six days
For fans of: Agatha Christie, Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov, docu-dramas
This book tastes like: warm popcorn