100 Days of Fantasy, Day 20: In Cold Blood

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This is an ongoing series looking at books that have influenced one fantasy author.

In Cold Blood

by Truman Capote

This is the first non-fiction book to make this list of books that have influenced me as a writer. And there are multiple reasons it is the first.

In Cold Blood is without a doubt the finest true-crime book I’ve ever read, and I’ve read more than a few. This makes it also one of my favorite non-fiction books.

The author, Truman Capote, does an excellent job of twisting around the reader’s emotions, so much so that Capote never wrote another novel-length work the rest of his life after finishing In Cold Blood. It would seem that twisting of emotions had also fallen upon the author, probably more so since he eventually became personally connected to some of the people in this dark tale.

And what is this tale? To simplify: A couple of 1950s hoods break into a farmhouse in search of money, and finding none then go on a rampage through the house, killing an entire family, a man and wife and daughter and son. Then the two killers flee into the night, only to be captured days later. That’s pretty much the first half of the book. It will leave you hating these killers and feeling they deserve whatever they get.

The second half of In Cold Blood focuses upon the trial, prison terms and eventual executions of the killers. It’s as heart-rending, brutal and emotional as the first half of the book. Unless you are totally made of stone, this section of In Cold Blood will have you feeling sorry for the killers. I kid you not, and I’m generally a proponent of the death penalty.

Whether you like true-crime books or just want to see some of the best writing the 20th Century had to offer, do yourself a favor and read In Cold Blood. You’ll never be the same again.

Up next: The Dark Knight Returns

Related Links

100 Days of Fantasy: Day 18, Watership Down

100 Days of Fantasy: Day 19, Paradise Lost

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