I Am Become Overwhelmed


In Cold Blood

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

First Line: The village of Holcomb stands on the high wheat plains of western Kansas, a lonesome area that other Kansans call “out there.”

I don’t frequently turn to this genre, which I suppose is why I picked up the title that started it all. I mean, In Cold Blood is the epitome of true crime, right?

Then again, this is more than a true crime read. It’s a psychological study of violence in America, a historical novel, a horror story that gets under your skin in a twisted, emotional way. Our sympathies are naturally inclined toward the Clutter family, then to investigator Alvin Adams Dewey. But as we delve deeper with Capote’s narrative, allegiance becomes blurred. I leave this book with a complicated sense of pity for the murderers. It’s a disgusting tragedy through-and-through, but the writing sure is done well.

I feel compelled to recommend this book because it challenges the reader. Like Lolita, it’s confusing…we try to create answers for why these characters choose this, or do that, but there is no true, concrete explanation.

The ending only emphasizes this sense of loss. The histories of the death row inmates lodging next-door to Dick and Perry are a strong parallels to the boys’ own downward spiral leading to the Clutter family murders. Since mental health is a highlighted theme here, everyone affiliated with these various crimes becomes a victim in some form or other. Quite unsettling.

Bottom Line: Read it because it’s classic and difficult–then follow it with something light.