Truman Capote, In Cold Blood
2007 | Label: Random House Audio
A chilling classic — the original ‘true crime’ novel
Besides providing the movie-going public with an excellent flick, the release of the feature film Capote in 2005 did us the service of reintroducing Truman Capote’s classic “nonfiction novel,” In Cold Blood, to a new generation of readers. Picking up in 1959 after an apparently motiveless quadruple murder in small-town middle America, Capote deftly narrates the assailants’ flight and eventual capture while showing a quiet town coming to terms with the sense of terror and meaninglessness left behind by the unprecedented crime.
Though Capote’s writing is superb throughout, what really sets this book apart is his ability to inhabit the character of Perry Smith, one of the two murderers. “Revealing the mind of a murderer” has become a horrible clichÃ©, but Capote shows how this hackneyed concept can be brought to glorious heights, humanizing Perry and writing one of the most fully realized characters of 20th-century literature. When Smith’s story meets its inevitable end, we feel it with the same weight that Capote must have after spending years getting to know and understand Smith in jail.
Scott Brick’s smooth narration makes a fine complement to Capote’s prose. The veteran of film, television and radio easily moves among the many characters in Capote’s wide canvas. From the two murderers to trial witnesses to small-town residents, Brick manages to make each sound separate and convincing. Moreover, as Capote’s story moves from tragic to poignant to comic, Brick’s narration moves as well, changing key to remain in synch with what’s happening on the page.