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I don't read much true crime, though I am as fascinated as anyone by the story of human wickedness. This seemed to me a particularly good (and early) example of the genre, with Capote following events through the stories of the victims, the investigators and the perpetrators, from just before it happened to the day of the executions. The crimes in question took place fifty years ago next month, when the Clutter family of Holcomb, Kansas, were murdered by two men who had recently been paroled from the state prison. Capote devotes a lot of the book to a not unsympathetic psychological portrait of Hickock and Smith, the two killers; though the description of the Kansas environment where the Clutter family lived and died (based partly on notes by Harper Lee, who had just finished writing To Kill A Mockingbird) is also rather memorable. The book was originally published as a series of long articles in The New Yorker, and retains a couple of journalistic touches; the most intrusive of these is that Capote can't quite decide to keep himself out of the picture he is creating. I see that there have been two recent films about how Capote wrote this book, which is somehow not surprising.

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( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
inulro
Oct. 27th, 2009 09:13 am (UTC)
I've seen both films, and didn't particularly enjoy either of them, which has kind of pushed reading In Cold Blood much further down my list of priorities. Possibly unfairly.
communicator
Oct. 27th, 2009 10:15 am (UTC)
I thought this was an excellent book. The only 'true crime' book I have read which is high class literature in its own right.
mscongeniality
Oct. 27th, 2009 02:30 pm (UTC)
I quite liked the book. The only one of the two films I've seen is Capote which wasn't bad, but I thought the book was better.

More recently, I watched the 1967 film In Cold Blood which was very interesting. I found it intensely creepy, mainly because the reenactments were taking place in the original locations (including the Clutter home!) and with some of the same people in bit parts.
pr1ss
Oct. 27th, 2009 06:38 pm (UTC)
I've never understood the popularity of this this book. I just found it to be dryly unexciting.
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )

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