Originally Posted by orlok
I recently finished In Cold Blood, which wasn't as good as I was hoping, given its classic status. I guess it's all been emulated since and so doesn't feel as fresh as it would have done in its time. Not that I regret reading it - still an absorbing account.
Part of what's good about the Capote is the quality of the style and atmosphere, and the echoes of the author himself in the portrayal of one of the two killers (read that book and then peruse the bits of autobiography in Music for Chameleons
). I wouldn't expect to find new insights about forensics or psychopathology in an account from 1996.
I've always been fascinated by David Parker Ray -- partly because of the detailed mechanisms of his cruelty, partly because of the obscurity of his murders despite evidence taken from his $100,00 torture chamber that suggests he must have been a prolific killer (his suspected body count is around sixty), and partly because he managed to manipulate investigators to his advantage without revealing anything about his crimes or further victims. Even when accomplices tried to point authorities to burial sites, Ray had already moved the bodies to obscure locations.
I could never figure out why no one made a film about Ray in that golden period of our culture's obsession with super-psychopaths, the '90s. Ray's "Toybox" (as he called it) is the closest thing in real life to the baroque excess of the sets in David Fincher's Se7en
. Ray's eclectic sadism -- his assortment of instruments wrought and bought, his multimedia-enhanced scenarios, his use of tape recorders to make victims aware of his voice -- at first -- as a mere representation of the horror to come, his forcing victims to watch projections of their own dehumanization while it was happening
-- all of that makes Gary Wissner's Peter-Joel-Witkins-inspired art direction and Fincher's implausible storyline seem almost credible. The between-mirrors voyeurism also reminds me of Michael Powell's infinitely better film, Peeping Tom
It's a pity that, of the only three books about Ray, Fielder's is print-only and pedestrian and Glatt's is written in a witheringly bad style. I've yet to look at the one by J. E. Sparks.