Review: In Cold Blood

In Cold Blood
In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Book #21 for 2017
Better World Books Challenge:
– A book about a historical event
– A book that’s been adapted into a movie
PopSugar Ultimate Reading Challenge (maximum 3):
– An audiobook
– A bestseller from a genre you don’t normally read (true crime)
– A book by or about a person who has a disability
Possible Book Bingo Squares:
– A Book-to-Screen Adaptation
– An Audiobook
The Legendary Book Club of Habitica’s Ultimate Reading Challenge: A book by a person with a disability
Follow the Clues: Trail 1, Clue 6

Scott Brick’s narration style is perfect for this kind of book, so he saved it from being a total slog. Well, okay, maybe not a total slog. But for all the hype, this book was kind of a snooze. I had bought this specifically for the Spring Into Horror read-a-thon, but it turned out to be neither suspenseful nor thrilling, let alone horrifying. Sadly, that may just go to show how jaded we’ve become in the past 50 years or so.

Compared to how such a crime today is both sensationalized and treated as the same-old same-old — which is quite the trick if you think about it — Capote treated the descriptions of the crime scene and the victims’ final moments with delicacy and respect. And he managed to make them pretty dang boring. The only really interesting parts were the ones focused on investigative procedure, especially given the vast differences now in both technique and technology. But despite Capote’s jumping around all over the timeline and trying to get into the criminals’ heads, the story was disappointingly straightforward. The bad guys weren’t nearly as fascinating as Capote seemed to want them to be, and that he became friends with one of them really squicked me out.

I also didn’t appreciate Capote’s depiction of rural 1950s Kansas and its residents. I grew up in 1970s/1980s Missouri, which was remarkably similar, and I lived this life of 4-H projects, harvesting crops, and the occasional legal dispute over livestock issues. I felt mildly violated by Capote’s “oh, look at the quaint farm folk” attitude. It seemed like he had nothing emotionally invested in the places or people he wanted to scrutinize under his literary microscope.

Okay, maybe this is a groundbreaking work in the true crime genre and Capote deserves some credit for inventing the “nonfiction novel.” That doesn’t mean it isn’t vastly overrated. I won’t be watching the movies.

View all my reviews

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