If Truman Capote's influence is seen in the title and contents, it's also being seen in the reviews of first-time true crime author Marek Fuchs's new book.
The title is A Cold-Blooded Business: Love, Adultery, and Murder in a Small Kansas Town [Amazon; B&N].
Set in the same town where the Clutters met their sad fates, the crime described here is quite different from the one Capote lyricized. The book details the story of the murder of a young married man and the surprisingly successful lives led by his killers, who got away with the crime for decades.
Kirkus has hailed the book's "breakneck pace," no mean feat for a book that spans decades.
So I had a chance to ask the author a few questions about the case, about Capote, and he was kind enough to reply. Here's the Q&A.
Q. Are you satisfied that justice was served in Olathe?
A. Satisfied? No. One of the saddest notes of this story is that no one—from the good guys to the bad guys to the guys who alternated between good and bad—emerged satisfied.
But am I relieved that at least it was not worse? Certainly. And that, in a sense, is a mercy, a form of victory for justice. Could circumstances have turned better? Sure. But sometimes avoiding utter chaos is all you have and, at the end of the day, you better take it.
Q. I'd love to get your take on Truman Capote and his, um, more controversial features.
A. Truman Capote was a flamboyant New York City social figure and I’m a low-key New York suburban dad who when he isn’t writing serves as a fireman. But outside of that we have a lot in common. In all seriousness, beneath his great flair and generosity of heart, Capote was, at root, a man guided by an abiding curiosity.
And in the end, that is what binds all writers together—from the wildly talented like Capote to the rest of us. We all seem driven toward uncovering the mysterious details, answers to questions like why humans can lose their humanity. Then gain it right back.
Q. Did you cave in to Truman's temptation - meaning, was any bit of the story fictionalized?
A. No, for one I’m inherently lazy and fiction is harder than non-fiction. Plus, in a story like this one that rips from a Bible college, to Harvard Business School, to the creation of Starbucks Frappucino and the height of New York society, who needs to make up details? Truth is, at least here, stranger than fiction.
Q. What you think of authors who goose their facts?
A. It’s a waste of time and breaks the trust of readers. Anything you write should either have the creativity of fiction or the rigor of non-fiction.
Q. What are you working on next?
A. I am finishing a novel on stock brokers gone bad. I started my working life as a stock broker and…well, I don’t want to give away the plot. But, in a different way, it explores lives of undetected crime. Plus: another true crime book. Details to come. Shhhhh…
Q. What is the most unforgettable, satisfying true crime book you’ve ever read?
A. I love them all, from Ann Rule to Ron Franscell to Phil Carlo, but it probably begins and ends for me with In Cold Blood.
Whatever its possible flaws—and all books have them—it showed me as a little kid (I wasn’t too well supervised, that’s why I first read it at 10) how a book could conjure up a time and places in such haunting tones. When I first went to Kansas, all those years later, I was spooked—as if Dick and Perry were lurking in the corner. (Maybe I should have been better supervised. I seem a touch too jumpy, no?)
Most of all, though, I loved the way In Cold Blood brought back to life, if only for a fleeting moment, the Clutter family, who were killed 50 years ago. But all their proclivities, all their triumphs and sadness, all the workaday little details of their lives were alive again, if only on the page and just while you were reading. It’s not perfect, but it’s the only life they have.
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