I was on a Truman Capote kick this summer, beginning with Capote, the movie, then on to the novel The Swans of Fifth Avenue, and finally, to this, a middle grade novel that introduces us to childhood friends Truman Capote and Nelle Harper Lee. I read this as a kind of personal catharsis, to help me see a better side of Capote than the one I met in the previous book and movie. I was attempting to “unsee” how badly Capote treated his good friend Harper Lee when her book came out, hoping that his thinly veiled jealousy, as depicted in the movie, was more Hollywood fiction than truth.
This story goes back to the beginning, in Monroeville, Alabama, where Capote and Lee first met as children. Both are charmingly innocent, looking for some harmless adventure. Budding writers, captured in a moment in time. It is a sweet story, often made more poignant by what isn’t said as by what is. As an adult reading this middle grade story, I read with the knowledge of what is to come; but for the intended audience, these stories of the high jinks of two self-appointed detectives (and Sherlock Holmes fans) are a wonderful introduction to an entertaining pair, who started out as unlikely friends and went on to change the literary landscape for generations.