Title: No Saints in Kansas
Author: Amy Brashear
Publisher: Soho Teen
Publication Date: November 14, 2017
Summary (from Goodreads): A gripping reimagining of Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood and the brutal murders that inspired it
November is usually quiet in Holcomb, Kansas, but in 1959, the town is shattered by the quadruple murder of the Clutter family. Suspicion falls on Nancy Clutter’s boyfriend, Bobby Rupp, the last one to see them alive.
New Yorker Carly Fleming, new to the small Midwestern town, is an outsider. She tutored Nancy, and (in private, at least) they were close. Carly and Bobby were the only ones who saw that Nancy was always performing, and that she was cracking under the pressure of being Holcomb’s golden girl. The secret connected Carly and Bobby. Now that Bobby is an outsider, too, they’re bound closer than ever.
Determined to clear Bobby’s name, Carly dives into the murder investigation and ends up in trouble with the local authorities. But that’s nothing compared to the wrath she faces from Holcomb once the real perpetrators are caught. When her father is appointed to defend the killers of the Clutter family, the entire town labels the Flemings as traitors. Now Carly must fight for what she knows is right.
Fans of Truman Capote and his infamous In Cold Blood may be intrigued by this new YA novel that fictionalizes how the teens in Holcomb reacted to the tragic events of the time. While it may seem like an interesting concept to focus on the teen perspective of the notorious Clutter family murders, No Saints in Kansas is an inadequate historical fiction novel that has an unrelatable main character, and is a true story that is better left alone.
No Saints in Kansas is an historical fiction that is a poor attempt to retell Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood in a young adult voice. Many of the details surrounding the actual crime are included in this reimagined story, however there are many strange additions to this narrative that are unnecessary and at times disturbing. For example, there is an odd section in the book that details the slaughtering of an animal, which has no real connection to any of the facts or the plot. There are many random inclusions of characters as well, such as JFK, which just seems to add more confusion for the reader.
Carly is a fictional character that Brashear has created to be the teen voice for No Saints in Kansas. Unfortunately, Carly is such a whiny, and unrealistic character that she just makes no sense at all. It is almost as though her character is trying to take on a Nancy Drew role in the novel. However, the behaviours Carly exhibits are impetuous and not well-planned. It really disappointed me as I was reading, just how ridiculous Carly’s character is.
When I first saw this book was coming out, I have to admit that I was really excited by it. I don’t know much about Bobby Rupp and his connection to Nancy Clutter, so my interest in this book was really piqued. While I was reading No Saints in Kansas, I started searching the internet for details and was surprised to find that many of the individuals included in the narrative are still living, including Bobby. I also discovered that many of these people who lived through this horrifying time are still grieving. This information really made me stop to think about the difference between Capote’s non-fiction book versus the fictionalization of the facts in No Saints in Kansas. It saddens me that there are characters in this book that are still living and to have a fictional story written about them is just wrong.