Review: In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

It’s tempting to review this book as a fictional work and discuss characterizations and plot, but Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood is a rigorous recounting of actual events. It sat on my reading queue for years as I expected a dry list of dates, places, and events. This book is so much more—it has brilliant flow and pacing, the town is vividly described, and it’s deeply emotional. If the story weren’t true, In Cold Blood would be the greatest work of crime fiction I’ve read. Because it reads like a novel, with “characters” and suspense, I have my usual urge to avoid spoilers though I imagine the line is different with a heavily publicized, 53-year-old murder case. I suspect many young readers approach the book as I did with only a little foreknowledge. I knew only that four members of the Clutter family were killed, and two men were hanged for their murder. Capote controls the pace of the story so expertly as to provide unbearable suspense and tension; to preserve this, I won’t include the details of the murderers’ capture. read more