Monday, 26 September 2016

#40 In Cold Blood

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

This is a non fiction book published in 1966 that follows the murders of The Clutter family in a small town in Kansas. This tells the story of true events but is written in the style of a novel. The murders were researched heavily by Capote but the use of dialogue to tell the story is mostly fictional. Although this is written as a novel it is packed with information that you would expect from a non fiction book. I struggled somewhat with it as i believe that non fiction should be written as true accounts and at times when reading this i had to remind myself that it was based on true events. This gives point of views from the victims, the suspects, the investigators and the people living in the town, which in turn gives a very holistic view of the story.

Capote takes his time with telling this story and its written very precisely, parts of it read as unnecessary filler to me. The lead detective is written rather unrealistically and his part in the investigation and the trial is often romantisised and exaggerated, it made for some cringe worthy reading.

Mr Clutter and his family are written as an all American, normal and happy family. Its easy for the reader to like them and sympathize with them in the fictional style they are written as you gain a sense of who they are as people. This makes the trial so much more hard hitting as you will as if you know the Clutter family and not like you are just going through the motions like you would with a non fiction book or a documentary.

I love true crime novels and documentaries but what made me most uncomfortable with this was the humanizing of the murderers. Just because they are written as sensitive people that couldnt make sense of what they had done doesnt mean they are less worthy of serving time for committing a horrible crime. Its easy to see that Capote spent a lot of time with these people and had a lot of bias towards them but for me he should of just wrote it like it was, a heinous crime.

There are many book to movie adaptations of this book that i think would be worth checking out and also a movie starring Philip Seymour Hoffman entitled 'Capote' which follows the writing of this book. This may offer a different interpretation of this story and may change my mind on a few things, either way i think ill check both out as this was most enjoyable and really quite gripping especially the final 100 pages.

Recommended for anyone who loved the podcast Serial or the Netflix documentary Making a Murderer.