Samantha's Reviews > In Cold Blood

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
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really liked it

Such a heartbreaking read on so many levels.

I was only vaguely familiar with the book and the crime it describes before I read. I knew it happened in Kansas, and that the murders really shook the foundations of the town where it happened. After getting the details, I understand why.

When the Clutter family, hardworking, unassuming, and integral to the life of Holcomb, Kansas were killed so brutally in their home by people who didn't even bear them personal animosity? That's a realization about the nature of humanity most people weren't prepared to face.

It wasn't a suspenseful book in the sense that some crime narratives are. We knew who committed the crime almost as soon as we read of its commission. I read knowing that the criminals would be caught and punished. There was no doubt of that.

So many hard luck stories, in terms of the hardships of their lives. The permanent change these crimes made to the world view of the rest of the members of the community. Like I said, heartbreaking.

What makes the book though, is not the crime. It's the narration.

Capote is simultaneously neutral in that journalistic sense of not taking sides AND empathetic to the experience of every person introduced in the book, from the victims to their killers, to the investigators and friends and family. Each character felt like a real person, a real person whom the writer respected enough to portray from a heart to understand. The novelistic style of storytelling really put the reader in the moment, and sometimes that was a harrowing place to stand.

The book is a recognition of the grayness of moral situations, the experiences that lead a person to make their choices, the inadequacy of justice as a concept in the face of loss that cannot be recovered. The coincidences that brought death to the Clutters make the reader confront the illusion of safety. Even now, so many years after the events of the book, reading it left me shaken.

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Reading Progress

June 25, 2009 – Shelved
July 11, 2019 – Started Reading
July 17, 2019 – Finished Reading

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