By September 10, 2012 3 Comments Read More →

To Kill a Mockingbird and In Cold Blood

Every year I join my best friend and two mystery fiction authors who journey to Green Lake, WI, to teach a Road Scholar program on mystery and crime fiction.

This year the One Road Scholar, One Book title was To Kill a Mockingbird.  Everyone who attends is expected to read the book and on the first full night of the class we all watch the movie together.  To Kill a Mockingbird is still one of the best books ever written and one of the easiest books to discuss.  Combined with the great film starring Gregory Peck, it made a killer combination.

Because of the connection between Harper Lee and Truman Capote, I volunteered to lecture on Capote’s life and lead a discussion on In Cold Blood.  The research for this talk was so fascinating that I ended up doing a a lecture/PowerPoint called “In Cold Coincidence”  that covered Capote, Lee, Robert Blake and various murderers and victims.

While the talk proved to be a success, within it we held a book discussion on In Cold Blood which also proved to be a slam dunk.  I would like to suggest that book discussion groups might want to consider doing these books together or back-to-back.  Libraries will be helped by also suggesting that readers view To Kill a Mockingbird, In Cold Blood, Capote and Infamous.  It worked for our group and I am sure you will have the same success.



About the Author:

Gary Niebuhr is the author of Make Mine a Mystery (2003), Caught up in Crime (2009), and other readers' guides to mystery and detective fiction. He was a Booklist contributor from 2008-2014.

3 Comments on "To Kill a Mockingbird and In Cold Blood"

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  1.' Shelley says:

    Among its other virtues, Mockingbird allows students like mine, many of whom come from fatherless families, to learn what a real father can do. And Horton Foote, to whom I owe so much, did the impossible by writing a screenplay as luminous as the book.

  2.' Martha Burns says:


    I would love to hear more about your One Road Scholar program on mystery and crime fiction. I was especially interested in reading about putting To Kill a Mockingbird in conversation with In Cold Blood.

    My sister, Alice Dillon, and I are the founders of National Reading Group Month. We later turned it over to WNBA. We are also the authors of Reading Group Journal: Notes in the Margin.

    But at this point I am finishing my creative non fiction work titled “Blameworthy” about a crime committed in rural New Mexico, near my home. Once finished and published I hope to be able to expose it to reading groups.

    Anything you could share with me about your travels and the Road Scholar program would be very helpful to me.

    I am a successful short story writer and have also written two other novels but I see “Blameworthy” as my break out work.

    Martha L. Burns
    973 229 9722

  3. Gary Niebuhr says:

    Martha–I love new Mexico and crime writing so I am looking forward to reading your book.

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