True crime readers will not be disappointed. Anyone wanting a quick overview of the Stella Nickell story may not be happy with all the detail which Olsen has meticulously tracked down and recounted, but if you want all the ins and outs of the plot and the characters, this book has it all. I wasn't counting, but this family must be in the race for the highest number of house moves and taking up temporary make-shift accommodation with friends or family, the most partner swaps, the most one night stands, the amount of alcohol consumed, and general bad parenting. On the other hand, they were either in work or looking for work, family (except mothers and daughters) were close-knit and stood by each other through thick and thin, and there was always a friend they could turn to in a crisis. Fascinating family, fascinating plot, intriguing outcome. Olsen's research is painstaking and he writes well, although the interweaving of the stories of the two victims' families was a bit confusing at first. Also I felt a bit of the story was missing in my version because it went straight from the jury room deliberations to after the verdict had been handed down which left me baffled about when the verdict had been reached and even more baffled about the phone call to a juror and possible re-trail which were being mentioned. I went back and listened to that section again to make sure it wasn't just me, but it still seemed that part of the book just wasn't there. It is very competently read by Kevin Pierce - a simple straight-forward emotion-free narration - just right for this type of book.
This book has it all - plot, characters, surprises, suspense, rollercoaster of emotions - sadness, horror, sympathy, amazement, incredulity, frustration, anger. In short, the book has everything you could want to keep you interested. I took every opportunity to do something during which I could keep listening. I was a bit taken aback for the first few minutes by Richard Ferrone's narration but after a very short time I loved his voice and his presentation. He's just right for this book.
This book combines two of my most-read genres, true crime and history. Events from long ago, especially those involving cover-up at the highest level, often lack enough detail to be informative and certainly not enough to fill a book. But Jager has enough material to document the terrible crime, and to set the events and the characters within their social and political context. Everything is recounted in rivetting detail.Jager has obviously conducted a great deal of painstaking research, and the writing is excellent, as is the narration by Auberjonois whose voice and delivery are just perfect for the story.
I first read "In Cold Blood" when it first came out in 1966, when I was just a kid growing up in a dusty little prairie farming town not very different from Holcombe, Kansas. At the time, I took Capote's rendition of the lives of the Clutter family for granted -- it was all I knew. Didn't everyone live like that?
I've since learned different, of course. Not only does 'everyone' not live like that, but hardly anyone does, or not anymore, anyway. Just as 'To Kill A Mockingbird' by Truman Capote's friend Harper Lee defined a certain kind of life in the south, just as did 'A Tree Grows in Brooklyn' by Betty Smith define life in Brooklyn, so Capote's 'In Cold Blood' defines the essence of prairie life in the 1950's. For that reason alone, it's an American classic.
Since then, I reread the book a couple of times, just because I became a dedicated fan of Capote's writing (if not of his lifestyle). But never has the brilliance of his writing come home to me as it did, in listening to Scott Brick reading it. The book and narration constitute a masterwork, by any standard. Yes, Capote perfectly captured the rhythm of life in rural Kansas, but it seems to me he was just as adept at getting inside the minds of the ruthless killers. I haven't any standard to measure that, of course, but the killers are just as believable as were the Clutter family, their traipse through Mexico and back again just as real.
This is an audiobook I will listen to again and again -- honestly, I might not read it again, but listen again? Absolutely. So many nuances jump out at you when you're listening, little details your eye might skim over when you're reading it. What's really interesting is how scary this book is, even though there's very little gore, in the purest sense. Today we're bombarded with 'serial killer' books, with detailed descriptions of the horrors they perpetrate on their victims. You won't find that here, and yet the horror comes through with an even greater impact.
This is a brilliant book, genius-class, for sure. And the narration couldn't possibly be better. This book belongs in everyone's home library. Don't miss it.