Traveling home from Costa Rica yesterday, I had the opportunity to pick up Truman Capote's classic new journalistic account of a quadruple homicide of a farming family in Holcomb, Kansas in 1959: In Cold Blood. I can only give my highest praise and admiration for this mesmerizing piece of literary crime reportage. Capote is so good at weaving the myriad local personalities, recreating the crime and penning such a sympathetic account of murderer Perry Smith that it's the type of thing you read that either makes you want to give up on writing because prose this good is out there or just hunker down and attempt to create your own masterpiece of American letters.
Read In Cold Blood immediately. It takes you to the heart of darkness, but in a way that leaves you empathetic rather than vengeful -- a feeling only a great writer can produce due to the viciousness of the crime.