Thursday, September 10, 2015

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

Dark Places is my favorite Gillian Flynn book--I love the way the way it's this horrific cold murder mystery that took place on an isolated farmhouse. I loved the way she incorporated "the times" into the plot and recreated the day of the murders. I really liked how the ending was both expected and unexpected. So when I learned it was inspired by In Cold Blood, I knew I would want to read it at one point.

Well I read it via listening to the audiobook. And I can definitely see where the inspiration came from. Not only are the crimes similar and midwestern based, but I believe the specific inspiration came from a small thread in the book that doesn't end up taking up much time but immediately called Dark Places to mind. I can't say more without completely spoiling Dark Places, but I found this really really interesting.

I really really like true crime. This is something that feels like a guilty pleasure to admit, because what literary benefit is there to it, really? It feels almost like a kind of an intrusion where I want to peek behind the curtain of something terrible, see all the things that went into play and feel the extra dread of knowing this really happened as opposed to this is just someone's imagination. But..I can't help it. True crime keeps my attention. And, even more, I think it does reveal things about history, people, time and circumstances. So I had really huge hopes for In Cold Blood since it's supposed to be one of the first and best true crime books.

I ended up liking it a lot, though I'm not sure it lived up to my exact expectations. There were times when I felt bored, but by the end I did appreciate the detail the book went into.

So what's it about? A family is murdered one night in their homes. In a small Kansas town where this sort of thing never happened. No apparent motive. Horrific deaths. A family of four, two teenagers and their parents. The police are stumped.They have no leads and they most certainly don't have the technology of our times in order to investigate further.

Capote details the day of the murder, introducing you to the victims. This part felt very real and one of the things I like so much about true powerful and full and forceful life feels--how weird it is that it all just comes to an end. He also details the town's reaction and the toll of the investigation.

He also spends TONS OF TIME on the killers. I have to admit this is where I started to space out a bit because I just didn't care. And because it was so depressing in that awful life is drudgery sort of way. Which I fully understand was the point, but still. You can definitely sense the influence on Gillian Flynn!

Having said that, by the time I got to the end I felt like I have been through an experience and it was sort of worth it to have all that extra detail. I felt like I had been told a full story from every aspect, given a chance to peek inside the heads of everyone.

But really what an amazingly awful and random crime. Like, wow. You know I watch a fair bit of crime TV and read my share of books and the kind of circumstance in this book is the sort of thing they always say never happens, lol. It's amazing that they were able to figure out who did it and that it all rested on one random link. Life doesn't make sense.

I did look up some real story stuff when I was done and I guess Capote embellished/made up a few scenes, and that was hugely upsetting at the time to the critics, lol. But I sort of expected it must have been that way because of how detailed dialogue was, so I wasn't upset. Capote saying this was true is much better than like...the guy that wrote The Amityville Horror claiming that was all true.

Oh and fun facts--it took him six years to write this and Harper Lee went with him to Kansas to investigate. Interesting stuff!



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