My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This book was the one that came up from my list in the 9th classics club spin.
"Until one morning in mid-November of 1959, few Americans—in fact, few Kansans—had ever heard of Holcomb. Like the waters of the river, like the motorists on the highway, and like the yellow trains streaking down the Santa Fe tracks, drama, in the shape of exceptional happenings, had never stopped there. The inhabitants of the village, numbering two hundred and seventy, were satisfied that this should be so, quite content to exist inside ordinary life—to work, to hunt, to watch television, to attend school socials, choir practice, meetings of the 4-H Club. But then, in the earliest hours of that morning in November, a Sunday morning, certain foreign sounds impinged on the normal Holcomb noises—on the keening hysteria of coyotes, the dry scrape of scuttling tumbleweed, the racing, receding wail of locomotive whistles. At the time, not a soul in sleeping Holcomb heard them—four shotgun blasts that, all told, ended six human lives. But afterward the townspeople, theretofore sufficiently unfearful of each other to seldom trouble to lock their doors, found fantasy re-creating them over and again—those sombre explosions that stimulated fires of mistrust, in the glare of which many old neighbors viewed each other strangely, and as strangers." (p. 15)The six lives referred to are those of the four members of the Clutter family who were killed that night and the two men executed six years later for the crime. Capote does a masterful job of bringing his readers into the minds of the various people involved in the case. The story unfolds like a novel switching points of view to illuminate the events in different ways. Besides the accused, the police, and the victims Capote also focuses on the landladies, hitchhikers, jailers and neighbors who touched the lives of the primary players in the story which gave a depth to the book and made it feel more real.
Various lengthy documents, letters, psychiatric reports, etc. are included in the narrative and some of them dragged a bit. Aside from that one issue the book is a thought-provoking page turner and deserves it status as a classic of the true-crime genre.