In Cold Blood – A Review
Capote’s Sweet Voice Detailing A Not So Sweet Event
Typically a strict fiction reader, I steer clear from mystery and crime books, they are not my cup of tea. This strange September, I veer away from my norm, which is hard for me to do with books, and I picked up In Cold Blood, and in all honestly, it was in most part because of Philip Seymour Hoffman’s performance in the film Capote. Oh boy, was I pleasantly surprised. The book brings a detailed account of a family’s murder in the small town in Holcomb, Kansas, progressing deeply into an assortment of neighborhood anecdotes and rumors, detective reports and theories, psychological assessments and recommendations, and even lawyer depositions. Although being a non-fiction, crime mystery, Capote does a wonderful job of concealing this by creating a flow with the narrative that makes you feel like you’re reading a fiction novel.
Along with creating a smooth course through this rigid story, Capote is able to bring suspense to a case with a known ending. Even if you have not seen the movie, which gives particulars on how the information for the book came about, you still know from the first pages what happens, who does it, and what the outcome is, but this info seems insignificant, because it’s the details in each person’s version of the story which makes this book so enthralling. From the young murdered girl’s boyfriend to one of the killer’s distant sister, you essentially get every inch of the event told from many sides and hear every thought anyone has about the murders, the murderers, and the murdered.
With so many details, told from one and another point of view, you might think the story would become mundane or redundant, but that’s far from true. What this information will surface are intriguing feelings, both towards the murdered family, which is reasonable, and the murderers themselves, which is something hard to bring out of someone. Learning the step-by-step plan of the murder and also the murderers’ backgrounds and upbringings will make you truly debate whether you yourself would send these two to either rot in hell or jail.
That being said, I never felt the realness of these murders, the real life significance, until near the end of the book, when Capote describes a picture taken just outside the courtroom, of the killers smiling at each other after being given the death sentence, which, as Capote recalls, is later captioned “The Last Laugh?” in a Kansas paper. I went ahead and Googled this image, and the photos of the killers and the victims covering my browser hit me like a ton of bricks. As Capote painted the picture, I could see the characters in my head almost identically to their real life selves, but they were just that, characters. Seeing the images, the two cold-blooded murderers, that smile, it made every word become real, it made the event real. But I think that might just be one fiction readers impression as they delve into the non-fiction world with such a haunting book from such a haunting voice.
– Nahuel F.A.