No Saints in Kansas

No Saints in Kansas

A gripping reimagining of Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood and the brutal murders that inspired itNovember 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...

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Title:No Saints in Kansas
Author:Amy Brashear
Rating:
Edition Language:English

No Saints in Kansas Reviews

  • Cynthia

    It's all but impossible not to refer back to Capote's beautiful classic prose and storytelling (fact telling) in "In Cold Blood" and in fact brashear includes many clever references back to Capote's work but that isn't her focus. Her focus is to retell the story through a fellow teenager's eyes for a teenage audience.

    Carly Fleming, her younger jock brother Asher and their defense lawyer father and '50's housewife mother move from Manhattan, the one in New York not Manhattan, Kansas and the fami

    It's all but impossible not to refer back to Capote's beautiful classic prose and storytelling (fact telling) in "In Cold Blood" and in fact brashear includes many clever references back to Capote's work but that isn't her focus. Her focus is to retell the story through a fellow teenager's eyes for a teenage audience.

    Carly Fleming, her younger jock brother Asher and their defense lawyer father and '50's housewife mother move from Manhattan, the one in New York not Manhattan, Kansas and the family gets busy trying to assimilate to the mainly farming community. It's difficult. Like most teenagers Carly longed to fit in and have friends. She considers it her first big break when her math teacher talks her into being math tutor to the popular Nancy Clutter. Then the murders happen anc Carly's on shaky ground again. She's determined to play Nancy Drew and find out who killed her friend and her family.

    "No Saints in Kansas" is a gritty book that will appeal to more mature teens who can handle such a dark theme. I know kids are used to reading apocalyptic tales but this one feels personal because of the more finely honed psychology Brashear incorporates. As an adult I also enjoyed the book though I couldn't help pulling Capote's book off my shelves and delving in from time to time.

    Thank you to the publisher for providing an advance reader's copy.

  • grieshaber_reads

    Ouch, why all the hate, Goodreads? No Saints in Kansas is not Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood and that’s perfectly fine because author, Amy Brashear, isn’t trying to rewrite In Cold Blood. As she explains in her author’s note, Ms. Brashear became fascinated by the Clutter family murders (the focus of Mr. Capote’s book) when she moved to a town near the scene of the crime, Holcomb, Kansas. She decided to write this book because of that fascination. She tells the fictional story of the daughter of o

    Ouch, why all the hate, Goodreads? No Saints in Kansas is not Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood and that’s perfectly fine because author, Amy Brashear, isn’t trying to rewrite In Cold Blood. As she explains in her author’s note, Ms. Brashear became fascinated by the Clutter family murders (the focus of Mr. Capote’s book) when she moved to a town near the scene of the crime, Holcomb, Kansas. She decided to write this book because of that fascination. She tells the fictional story of the daughter of one of the attorneys defending one of the murderers. This fictional daughter was a friend (well, sorta) of Nancy Clutter. This story is one of the murders and the investigation and trial and how it affected the town of Holcomb, told through the eyes of a teenage girl who likes to do some detective work on her own. Is it believable? Nope. And that’s okay. Will it peak a teen’s interest in Mr. Capote’s classic work? You bet. I’m embarrassed to say I’ve never read In Cold Blood, but you better believe I’ll be reading it now as well as watching the movie, Capote.

  • Danielle (Life of a Literary Nerd)

    is a reimagining of Truman Capote’s

    . We follow Carly Flemming as she and the town come to grips with the grisly murders of the Clutter family and trying to find out what happened and why.

    :

    This book had really

    , which I always love. They let me really get into the story quickly and fly through it.

    I like that

    is a reimagining of Truman Capote’s

    . We follow Carly Flemming as she and the town come to grips with the grisly murders of the Clutter family and trying to find out what happened and why.

    :

    This book had really

    , which I always love. They let me really get into the story quickly and fly through it.

    I like that when we started off the murders have already occurred. This helps us get right into the

    and hook us in the beginning. I thought the beginning of the story was strong.

    The

    feels emotional and reactionary to events happening. It’s easy to connect with and it draws you in!

    :

    The characters are introduced with

    and discussed like we already know them. We get some info on them but I always felt a little

    when we met a new character. And the information we get is from tangent backstories, like their first meeting or something else that is trivial.

    Carly wasn’t the smartest when looking into the murders. She constantly made

    after bad decision. She was often assisted by Mary Claire and Landry and then abandoned by them. It became a repetitive cycle of doing something stupid then being ignored, making up, and repeat.

    Along with bad decisions, Carly was pretty

    to me. She constantly make the murders about herself and her relationship to Nancy. She was upset that everyone else was talking to Truman Capote and she hadn’t got to tell her story. When she does meet with him, she’s upset he doesn’t really care about her.

    I felt like the ending was

    . Everything came together quickly and neatly. There wasn’t much tension, besides the petty high school drama, even though Carly and her family was ostracized by the town and physically and verbally threatened.

    This book was ok, but largely forgettable. I liked where the story started and the intrigue of the murders in the quiet, unassuming town, but I wanted more character development, more tension, more sleuthing. This book had a lot of potential and is a really quick read, but it’s not really one that will stay with you.

  • Jen Ryland

    For the record, I love Truman Capote's writing and true crime in general. And a re-imagining of Capote's

    (which itself is Capote's take on a real life 1950s-era murder)

    like a cool idea to me.

    But the first few chapters of this were not very gripping. For reasons that were not clear to me, a (fictional) girl named Carly is investigating the murders of her (based on a real person) classmate Nancy and Nancy's family. Carly keeps telling us she's a fish out of water, a transpla

    For the record, I love Truman Capote's writing and true crime in general. And a re-imagining of Capote's

    (which itself is Capote's take on a real life 1950s-era murder)

    like a cool idea to me.

    But the first few chapters of this were not very gripping. For reasons that were not clear to me, a (fictional) girl named Carly is investigating the murders of her (based on a real person) classmate Nancy and Nancy's family. Carly keeps telling us she's a fish out of water, a transplanted New Yorker.

    I really wanted that to be the case, because having a brassy, sassy 1950s New Yorker poking around a small town murder investigation could have been interesting. (In fact, that was sort of what really happened, as Capote came to town at the time of the murders to investigate the case for his own book.) Unfortunately, Carly came off to me as a nervous wreck who's afraid of her own shadow. Her palms sweat. She "squeaks." At one point she's wracked with guilt and anxiety because she realizes she's coming home late one afternoon. Then a native Kansan has to coach her on telling a lie. I

    quickly realized I didn't trust her to solve any murders and didn't want to spend any more time with her and closed the book.

    [In a nice meta detail, Carly is reading Capote's

    which was sent to her by her aunt Trudy, who claims to have been the inspiration for Holly. Yeah, I don't think so, Aunt Trudy, but that did made me wish Aunt Trudy would show up and solve the murders. Or that I could be reading

    instead. If you've only seen the movie, try the book, which is gripping and surprisingly dark.]

    Read more of my reviews on

    or check out my

    I received a free advance copy of this book at Book Expo.

  • Olivia (The Candid Cover)

    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

    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.

  • Amy's Book Reviews

    1.5 STARS

    In 1959, the 4 members of the Clutter family were murdered. Truman Capote wrote the famous fictionalized non-fiction account, IN COLD BLOOD spawning a few movies and documentaries.

    **Factoid “Nell” Harper Lee accompanied her friend Capote during the days following the murders to assist with the investigation.**

    The story of the Clutters, and even the story of Capote writing about the murders are both more interesting than NO SAINTS IN KANSAS, Amy Brashear’s fictionalized account of Capote

    1.5 STARS

    In 1959, the 4 members of the Clutter family were murdered. Truman Capote wrote the famous fictionalized non-fiction account, IN COLD BLOOD spawning a few movies and documentaries.

    **Factoid “Nell” Harper Lee accompanied her friend Capote during the days following the murders to assist with the investigation.**

    The story of the Clutters, and even the story of Capote writing about the murders are both more interesting than NO SAINTS IN KANSAS, Amy Brashear’s fictionalized account of Capote’s fictionalized account of the Clutter murders.

    Brashear created narrator Carly, the fictional classmate of Nancy Cutter who longed to be a closer friend to the murdered fifteen-year-old. Wannabe Carly inserts herself into the investigation by tromping through the crime scene and searching for clues without fear in a manner so unbelievable, the entire story lacked credulity. Carly’s curiosity felt more like a children’s character like Harriet the Spy or Nancy Drew, not like an actual teenager in the 1950s.

    I stopped reading mid through NO SAINTS IN KANSAS to watch the 2017 documentary COLD BLOODED, three hours about the real murders. I wanted to know the real story vs what I was reading. Coming back to the book was difficult, as the fictionalized version felt even more inferior to fact.

    While Brashear writes very readable prose, NO SAINTS IN KANSAS isn’t a book that needs to be read. If you’re interested in the murders, read IN COLD BLOOD or watch a documentary.

  • Katherine

    A wannabe Nancy Drew detective takes it upon herself to bungle up the investigation of what will become the inspiration for Truman Capote’s legendary book,

    .

    Let me just preface this by saying that I have never read the book that was the inspiration for this,

    . However, I do know that out of a

    A wannabe Nancy Drew detective takes it upon herself to bungle up the investigation of what will become the inspiration for Truman Capote’s legendary book,

    .

    Let me just preface this by saying that I have never read the book that was the inspiration for this,

    . However, I do know that out of all the movies, plays, and books that Capote wrote, he considered this one his masterpiece. He and Harper Lee busted a gut to write this book, which took six years to write. It was basically created a whole new genre of book and entertainment, true crime. So I think it’s fair to say that if he read this tribute, homage, and reimagining of his original book, he would probably be displeased. And I’m sad to report that he would’ve been right. Retellings and reimaginings have to walk a very fine line between honoring the original source material while keeping an original voice. And apart from having the same players be involved, the author made this book entirely her own. Too much her own, as readers of the original novel will probably find this book unrecognizable.

    There were several drawbacks for this novel, but none were as major as Carly Fleming. Carly Fleming is the fictional daughter of Arthur Fleming, the man who would later go on to defend the two men who murdered the Clutter family. They recently moved to Holcomb, Kansas from New York City, making her a city kid in a town of so-called country bumpkins. She tutored Nancy Clutter in geometry and became close to her in private, so when Nancy, her brother, and parents are brutally murdered, Carly obviously wants to get to the bottom of it. However, Carly has got to be one of the most infuriating, conceited, arrogant, gullible and downright annoying protagonists I have read about this year. For one thing, her “investigation” into her “friends” murder (more about that later), was a bumbling mess. It felt more like a kids detective show than an actual teenager trying to find the killers who carried out a brutal attack. I was just waiting for corny music to come on and Carly to shout

    every time she found something. But the most annoying quality that Carly has is that throughout the entire novel, it seemed like she wasn’t so much trying to find justice for her friend than keep the attention entirely on herself. Every time she found a clue and someone would say that a person found said clue in the investigation, she damn made sure that person knew that

    found the clue. When Truman and Harper come to town to do research for their book, Carly is front and center in wanting to talk to them and when they studiously ignore her, she’s miffed. And when Truman and Nelle finally do talk to her, she’s mad that they don’t ask her more about herself.

    She’s like that person who if something bad happens, is the first person to talk to the news cameras, making sure not that there’s justice for the family, but that they get their 15 seconds of fame. And that really, REALLY didn’t sit well with me.

    Like I said earlier, I have not read Capote’s book, where he describes the crime and the family involved. So therefore, I don’t know what Nancy Clutter was really like. From the online reading that I did, she was the perfect model daughter and all-around American girl, apple pie and all. Her one rebellion was dating Bobby Rapp despite her parent’s objections, but other than that she was a pretty good kid. The author characterizes Nancy Clutter as perfect on the inside, but actually kind of terrible on the inside. From lying about her parents to her geometry grade to not acknowledging Carly Fleming as her friend because, ya know, popularity, I actually found her portrayal to be kind of disturbing. It’s one thing to reimagine a character for a retelling of a story. That issue can get a little thorny when that person is based in reality. And frankly, I think the author didn’t reimagine Nancy Clutter so much as assassinate her character. I just hope none of the remaining Clutter family members are alive to read this book, because I don’t think they would have liked this portrayal of Nancy, whether it be a fictional reimagining or not. Perfection can indeed hide imperfections in character, but if that simply isn’t the case, then it dishonors the memory of the fallen then trying to bring something new to the table.

    ******************************

    As Capote himself once said, “You can’t blame a writer for what the characters say.” However, I think he would make an exception to his own rule if he read this reimagining of his self-proclaimed magnum opus. In attempting to retell the horrific Clutter murders of Holcomb, Kansas, Amy Brashear creates an exceedingly unlikable main character, destroys the memory of one of the victims, and creates a book that Capote himself would not want any association with. He probably wouldn’t even like the fact that he was mentioned in the acknowledgments. Retellings can be difficult, and I am fully aware that this wasn’t supposed to be an exact retelling of Capote’s masterpiece. However, since so much was made out of the fact that

    was the inspiration for this “reimagining”, it should bear some resemblance to the plot. But apart from the inclusion of most of the real life players, there is none. Just a jumbled, garbled mess.

  • Fremom3

    My (former?) friend and fellow librarian handed me this ARC, because she knows I am a fan of IN COLD BLOOD, and because she can’t read them all. I will NOT be recommending this book for purchase in our library.

    I question the amount of interest that the average teen will have in a nearly 60 year old murder case, but I guess you never know.

    This book felt, from the start, like a BAD idea. Most people realize that Truman Capote took liberties (to put it mildly) with the facts in his book detailing

    My (former?) friend and fellow librarian handed me this ARC, because she knows I am a fan of IN COLD BLOOD, and because she can’t read them all. I will NOT be recommending this book for purchase in our library.

    I question the amount of interest that the average teen will have in a nearly 60 year old murder case, but I guess you never know.

    This book felt, from the start, like a BAD idea. Most people realize that Truman Capote took liberties (to put it mildly) with the facts in his book detailing the Clutter family murders, so if that was the author’s sole source of information, she might have done a bit more research.

    I am certainly willing to suspend my disbelief, but the author of this book stretched my disbelief to the breaking point. This work features obscure references that few, if any, teens will get (eg. the main character’s father being involved in the execution of two spies in ‘53), a main character who reads like a combination of Nancy Drew on steroids and Forrest Gump without the charm, and improbable language.

    To cite a few grievances, Carly Fleming, our daring heroine, breaks into the crime scene, the court house, Truman Capote’s hotel room (dressed as a maid, no less...I love Lucy, too, but give me a break!), and the jail where Perry Smith is being held. There are others, but I’m just going to sit here and shake my head, rather than list them.

    I bitched about this book so much that my book group actually asked me to stop reading it.

    I also took the liberty (I can take them, as well!) of asking a few people I know who were ACTUAL teenagers in 1959, if the language and behavior of this character was accurate. Despite Carly Fleming’s being a sassy New Yorker, the resounding answer was NO! The language is too modern, the character is too bold/fearless/stupid, and the situations she puts/finds herself in are completely unrealistic. The best word I can use to describe this book is ridiculous.

    It pains me to lambaste a book. I realize that authors put their hearts and souls into their work. I have just called your baby ugly, Amy Brashear, and I am sorry to have to do it...but this is one ugly baby! Go back to the drawing board. Better yet, don’t quit your day job. I’m sorry, truly...but no. Just...no.

    The real question now is this: Do I forgive my friendly YA librarian or make her read this book for herself as punishment?

    ***Okay.... I have had some time to get the bad taste out of my mouth, and I would like to edit this review, slightly. DON’T stop writing, Amy Brashear. I apologize for calling your baby ugly. Just try reading an Ally Carter or two...and then MAKE STUFF UP! Your main character would have been okay, had you not tried to insert her into an actual event. If you want a sassy, daring heroine, send her to spy school or something a bit fantastic. Steer clear of historical fiction. Your character did not fit the time and place that you dropped her into...and it’s wrong to try to force her into the lives of people who actually lived and brutally died.***

  • Kelly

    Unfortunately, this reads like a first draft, with poor pacing, poor plotting, and no character development or emotional arc at all. Readers who don't know IN COLD BLOOD will be bored to tears, and the historical accuracy, particularly when it comes to teens and how they interact and speak with one another, is questionable at best. There were so many places of potential and it fell apart through poor craft and weak writing. The turn in the story happens in the last 1/6 or so of the book and it p

    Unfortunately, this reads like a first draft, with poor pacing, poor plotting, and no character development or emotional arc at all. Readers who don't know IN COLD BLOOD will be bored to tears, and the historical accuracy, particularly when it comes to teens and how they interact and speak with one another, is questionable at best. There were so many places of potential and it fell apart through poor craft and weak writing. The turn in the story happens in the last 1/6 or so of the book and it pushes so fast that we never actually see things happen; it's all telling and no showing and for a book written in first person present about a murder that is lush with details and opportunity, this is such a let down.

    Fortunately, because I love IN COLD BLOOD, I enjoyed the reading experience. But I wouldn't recommend this nor encourage fans to rush out and experience something new and fresh. It's mostly forgettable.

    Maybe it's because when I was disappointed with everything I put on my editor brain, but I saw where the potential was and so wished someone could have done stronger work with the writer to make this so much more than what it is. Don't go in expecting a mystery nor much emotional connection and for readers without a sense of the original story, don't bother. Read Capote's book and then maybe find some good forums and conspiracy theory discussions.

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