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In Cold Blood

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On November 15, 1959, in the small town of Holcomb, Kansas, four members of the Clutter family were savagely murdered by blasts from a shotgun held a few inches from their faces. There was no apparent motive for the crime, and there were almost no clues.

As Truman Capote reconstructs the murder and the investigation that led to the capture, trial, and execution of the killers, he generates both mesmerizing suspense and astonishing empathy. In Cold Blood is a work that transcends its moment, yielding poignant insights into the nature of American violence.

343 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1965

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About the author

Truman Capote

264 books5,819 followers
Truman Capote was an American writer whose non-fiction, stories, novels and plays are recognised literary classics, including the novella Breakfast at Tiffany's (1958) and In Cold Blood (1965), which he labeled a "non-fiction novel." At least 20 films and TV dramas have been produced from Capote novels, stories and screenplays.

He was born as Truman Streckfus Persons to a salesman Archulus Persons and young Lillie Mae. His parents divorced when he was four and he went to live with his mother's relatives in Monroeville, Alabama. He was a lonely child who learned to read and write by himself before entering school. In 1933, he moved to New York City to live with his mother and her new husband, Joseph Capote, a Cuban-born businessman. Mr. Capote adopted Truman, legally changing his last name to Capote and enrolling him in private school. After graduating from high school in 1942, Truman Capote began his regular job as a copy boy at The New Yorker. During this time, he also began his career as a writer, publishing many short stories which introduced him into a circle of literary critics. His first novel, Other Voices, Other Rooms, published in 1948, stayed on The New York Times bestseller list for nine weeks and became controversial because of the photograph of Capote used to promote the novel, posing seductively and gazing into the camera.

In the 1950s and 1960s, Capote remained prolific producing both fiction and non-fiction. His masterpiece, In Cold Blood, a story about the murder of the Clutter family in Holcomb, Kansas, was published in 1966 in book form by Random House, became a worldwide success and brought Capote much praise from the literary community. After this success he published rarely and suffered from alcohol addiction. He died in 1984 at age 59.

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Profile Image for Jeffrey Keeten.
Author 2 books247k followers
August 9, 2020
"How much money did you get from the Clutters?"
"Between forty and fifty dollars."


HickokSmith

Top Picture Hickock, Richard Eugene (WM)28 KBI 97 093; FBI 859 273 A. Address: Edgerton, Kansas. Birthdate 6-6-31 Birthplace K.C., Kans. Height: 5-10 Weight: 175 Hair: Blond. Eyes: Blue. Build: Stout. Comp: Ruddy. Occup: Car Painter. Crime: Cheat & Defr. & Bad Checks. Paroled: 8-13-59 By: So. K.C.K.

Bottom Picture Smith, Perry Edward (WM) 27-59. Birthplace: Nevada. Height: 5-4. Weight: 156 Hair: D. Brn. Crime: B&E. Arrested: (blank) By: (blank). Disposition: Sent KSP 3-13-56 from Phillips Co. 5-10yrs. Rec. 3-14-56. Paroled: 7-6-59.

As I write this review, I'm sitting about 60 miles from the Clutter house in Holcomb, Kansas. Holcomb is a small, farming community located just west of Garden City. This is a place where everyone in the whole county not only knows your name, but also has a working knowledge of your family history going back fifty plus years.

I usually avoid reading true crime books. I don't want my head filled with tragedy. I want to go about my life with a degree of caution, but not be ruled by the fear I feel such books will instill.

I picked up a copy of this book at the Dodge City Library. The librarian at the check out desk, a woman about mid-sixties, slender, elegant, and still attractive ran her finger along the edge of the spine. I noticed a shiver had rolled up her back and rippled her shoulders. She looked up at me with pinched blue eyes and said in a whisper, "I remember when this happened".

She watched her father put locks on the doors for the first time. The murders became a demarcation line in her life there was life before the Clutter murders, and then there was life after the Clutter murders. Her response surprised me. We live in a time when any crime anywhere in the country is broadcast out to the nation and something tragic that happens in Illinois or in Virginia or Alaska impacts our lives. I would have thought over time some of the significance of the Clutter murder would have been buried under the avalanche of murder and mayhem that the news cycle brings us 24/7. For this community and for all the small communities dotting the map of Kansas, and even in the surrounding states, this was something that wasn't supposed to happen in a small town. This was big city crime that happened in their own backyard.

As I talked to people about the Clutter murders most everybody had some kind of physical reaction. They flinched as if they were dodging a blow or took a step back from me or developed a twitch along their jawline. Their eyes gazed through me or beyond me as the fears and anxieties of 1959 came flooding back into their mind. Most of them attributed more deaths to the crime, each of them citing six deaths rather than four. I'm sure they remembered that there was six family members, but two older girls had already left the home to start their own lives. They were not present on that fateful night when their family was murdered.

In Cold Blood was required reading in many schools in this region clear up until about the 1970s, so even people who were too young to remember the crime have experienced the tragedy through Truman Capote.

In the description above regarding Perry Edward Smith there is a reference to Phillips County. This has special significance for me because I was born and raised in Phillips County. The family farm is located in Phillips County. My Father and I graduated from Phillipsburg High School. My Dad was a sophomore in high school in 1955 when Perry Smith decided to burglarize the Chandler Sales Company in Phillipsburg, Kansas and this seemingly insignificant act was really the beginning of this story. Smith and his accomplice, also Smith, stole typewriters, adding machines etc and left town with their ill gotten goods in the backseat of the car. Later they ignored a traffic signal in St. Joseph, Missouri and were pulled over by a police officer. The cop was very interested in what was in their backseat. They were extradited back to Phillipsburg, where through an open window (imagine my embarrassment for the law enforcement of my home county) they escaped. Later Perry was caught again and sent back to Phillipsburg where the law enforcement fortunately did a much better job of keeping track of him.

Perry Smith received 10 years in the Kansas Penitentiary in Leavenworth. Richard Eugene Hickock was already serving time in Leavenworth for fraud. The two met and became friends. The final piece to the puzzle that not only determined the fate of the Clutter family, but also the fates of Smith and Hickock was snapped down in place when they meet Floyd Wells. Wells, serving time for some bit of stupidity, had worked for Herb Clutter back in 1948. He told Hickock and Smith that Clutter was a wealthy farmer, and kept a safe full of cash in his house.

Wells was absolutely full of shit.

There was no safe. There was no pile of cash. There was absolutely no reason for four people to lose their lives for $40.

ClutterFamily

After the murders they went to Mexico for a while, but even though they could live cheaply down South the money still trickled through their fingers. After they burned through the goods they had acquired through the Clutter robbery and through defrauding a series of retail stores, they found that working in Mexico didn't pay well either. They came back up to the United States and there was this baffling moment where Perry Smith is reading the paper and sees an article about a family that was tied up and shot to death. "Amazing!" Perry glanced through the article again. "Know what I wouldn't be surprised? If this wasn't done by a lunatic. Some nut that read about what happened out in Kansas."

WTF? Some nut? How about the original coconut heads that murdered the family in Kansas?

Perry does have a moment or two where he weighs what happened in Kansas. "Know what I think?" said Perry. "I think there must be something wrong with us. To do what we did."

"Did what?"

"Out there."

"Deal me out, baby," Dick said. "I'm a normal."


Truman Capote had been looking for the right story for an experimental form of writing he'd been considering trying. He wanted to blend fiction and nonfiction. The Clutter murders struck him as the perfect story to launch this new form of writing. I have to admire his fortitude, for a man of his sensibilities not only spending that much time among farmbillies, but having to befriend them as well. It must have been somewhat of a painful experience.

TrumanCapoteClutterHouse
Capote in the Clutter home

Floyd Wells eventually comes forward and tells what he knows about the murders. He had always liked Herb Clutter and felt ashamed that what he had told, in a moment of prison bonding, had led to such a vicious conclusion. Without his statement I'm pretty sure that Smith and Hickock would have gotten away with the murders. The slender evidence tying them to the murders would have made it almost impossible to prosecute them. Their sentencing can have only one conclusion...death.

As they are being led back to their cells:
Smith says to Hickock, "No chicken-hearted jurors, they!" They both laughed loudly, and a cameraman photographed them. The picture appeared in a Kansas paper above a caption entitled: "The Last Laugh?"

When I consider their bravado the last vestiges of any sympathy I may have been harboring for their plight dissipated.

This is a beautifully written book. I want to thank Harper Lee for her role in helping Capote bring this book to completion. I'm not sure Capote would have had the perseverance to see it through without her holding his hand. I was surprised about how many connections I have to the events in this book many of which I had no idea until I read them in the book for the first time. I was long overdue to read this book and this experience has certainly convinced me to add more of the classic True Crime genre to my reading queue. This book is legendary not only because of the heinous nature of the crime, but also because Capote was ushering in a new way to tell a story.

If you wish to see more of my most recent book and movie reviews, visithttp://www.jeffreykeeten.com
I also have a Facebook blogger page at:https://www.facebook.com/JeffreyKeeten
Profile Image for Michael Finocchiaro.
Author 3 books5,415 followers
May 31, 2022
I just wonder why it took me so long to get this masterpiece on my currently-reading shelf. What a breathtaking story! And told in the most amazing novelistic style! The cold-blooded murders in Kansas in 1956 are described by a cold, distant narrator via the interviews of the family, acquaintances, and community around the victims and the hair-raising stories of Perry and Bobby, the murderers. It is a real page-turner - I couldn't put it down! The descriptions of the youth of all the tragic protagonists are explored from every angle under a magnifying glass. In Cold Blood kept me thinking that most of the recent murder mystery shows and movies were indebted to this piece of literature (that Capote probably deserved a Pulitzer for but was passed over, helas, in 1965). There is this strange homoeroticism between the two murderers (who call each other "sugar" and "honey") but who both spout homophobic words throughout. Like the lawyers, I felt Richard was the coldest one and Perry the most twisted and tragic.

This book is a true masterpiece of the non-fiction novel (even if some of the facts brought out by Capote were disputed) and its narration is stupendous in character development and maintains an enormous amount of suspense end-to-end. It is even more astounding because the reader already knows who commits the crime, the novel only elucidates the "why" and even that is ambiguous and pathetic. An awesome read.

Note that in A Capote Reader, there is a great short essay about the making of the movie In Cold Blood where Capote talks a bit about the 6 years it took him to write this masterpiece. (Haven't seen the movie yet :/)

[UPDATE] I finally saw the movie Capote and it was absolutely amazing as a backstory to this book. I still haven't found the movie In Cold Blood yet.
Profile Image for David Putnam.
Author 15 books1,437 followers
May 14, 2020
This story made a huge impact on my life. There were six of us kids and come summer my mother couldn't handle all of us so she farmed me out every year to the aunts. One aunt lived in Indio. My mother put me on a Greyhound bus and nine years old; all alone with my brown paper grocery bag as luggage. I was scared to death. A Seagull hit the expansive windshield with splat of blood and feathers. Unfazed the driver merely turned on the windshield wipers and made and even bigger mess.
I arrived in Indio a hundred plus degrees and my aunt Carol picked me up at the bus station. She said she was taking me and my cousin Danny to the movies. Oh, boy I loved the movies. We stopped at a store to pick up some candy and I bought my favorite Chicken-O-stick. I was nine my cousin was seven, she bought our tickets at The Aztec theater and ushered us through the door. She said she'd be back when the movie was over. It was nice to be out of the sweltering heat. We sat down ate our candy in great anticipation. The movie started and it was in black and white. It was In Cold Blood, not something a nine year old should be watching.
Ten years later my cousin Danny and my Aunt Carol would be arrested for killing my favorite uncle Don in a murder for hire. My aunt hired a hit man out of Orange County named Cornelius. They stiffed in a fake call of an emergency at the Metropolitan Water Distinct where my uncle worked. There was a clause in the life insurance policy that if he died at work it was double indemnity. My uncle showed up in the middle of the night and they shot him in the back of the head. Of course there is lots more to this true story.
And to this day I can not forget In Cold Blood, the movie.
Sorry for the rant this was supposed to be a book review.
David Putnam Author of the Bruno Johnson series.

Profile Image for megs_bookrack.
1,424 reviews9,003 followers
January 28, 2023
An absolute masterpiece of True Crime literature, In Cold Blood is both gritty and intelligent.



This should be on everyone's list of Books to Read in a Lifetime. Capote's writing in this account is absolutely flawless.

As many of you may know, In Cold Blood is a true account of the heinous murders of the Clutter Family in 1959-Kansas.



Through Capote's words, you are transported to this small town; you get alternating accounts from the family, the killers and from other individuals close to the crime.

The description of the night of the actual murders is bone-chilling and can disturb sleep, believe me!



This is my second time reading this book and I found it just as impactful during my reread.

To me, it is interesting to think about Capote investigating and compiling his research for the novel.



He actually went and lived in this town, along with one of his closest friends, Harper Lee, and they painstakingly interviewed hundreds of people associated with the events.

Just the sheer amount of data collected and how it was intricately woven into a cohesive narrative astounds me.



Yes, I know that is what nonfiction novelists do, but this was truly a ground-breaking piece of journalistic writing at the time and should be appreciated as such.

Another interesting aspect of this is how focused Capote was in the psychology behind the killers' motivations and actions, as well as their complex relationship with one another both before and after the crimes. Ahead of his time in that regard, in my opinion.



I think anyone who enjoys True Crime, Criminology, Psychology and even Sociology will find this book absolutely captivating.

If you have been putting off reading this for any reason, please stop, pick it up, NOW!!!

Profile Image for Will Byrnes.
1,284 reviews119k followers
October 25, 2019
description
Truman Capote - image from the NY Post

This is one of the great ones. Capote blankets Holcomb, Kansas with his curiosity. The root of this work is a ghastly crime. Two recently released convicts, seeking a fortune that did not exist, invade the Clutter family home, tie up the four family members present and leave no witnesses. It takes some time for the perpetrators to be identified, then tracked down. Capote looks at how the townspeople react to this. Many, fearful that one of their own was responsible, become withdrawn. How do people mourn? He looks at the sequence of investigation that leads ultimately to the capture of the suspects, focusing on one of the chief investigators. He looks in depth at the criminals. What makes them tick? How could people do such awful things? In reading this I was reminded of some of the great panoramic art works of a bygone age, works by Bosch, Breughel, in which entire towns were brought together into one wide-screen image. This is what Capote has done. But even with all the territory he covers there is considerable depth. I was also reminded, for an entirely different reason of Thomas Hardy. Capote has an incredible gift for language. He writes beautifully, offering descriptions that can bring to tears anyone who truly loves language. It has the power of poetry. This is truly a classic, a book that defined a new genre of literature. If you haven’t read it, you must.

description
Murderers, Dick Hickock and Perry Smith - image from ABC Australia

In case you are in the market and in the neighborhood, this 10/24/19 item from SF Gate by Clare Trapasso, might be of interest - The Untold Story Behind the Infamous 'In Cold Blood' Murder House—and Why It's for Sale
Profile Image for Matt.
899 reviews28k followers
December 31, 2022
“‘This is it, this is it, this has to be it, there’s the school, there’s the garage, now we turn south.’ To Perry [Smith], it seemed as though Dick [Hickock] were mumbling jubilant mumbo-jumbo. They left the highway, sped through a deserted Holcomb, and crossed the Santa Fe tracks. ‘The bank, that must be the bank, now we turn west – see the trees? This is it, this has to be it.’ The headlights disclosed a lane of Chinese elms; bundles of wind-blown thistle scurried across it. Dick doused the headlights, slowed down, and stopped until his eyes were adjusted to the moon-illuminated night. Presently, the car crept forward…”
- Truman Capote, In Cold Blood

American crime writing stretches all the way back to before the founding of the United States. If you want – I don’t necessarily recommend it – you can read Cotton Mather, and find him recounting the alleged criminal actions committed by his neighbors (some of which involves taking license with farm animals). Since then, there have been countless newspaper articles, magazine stories, and entire books aimed at fulfilling an insatiable appetite for understanding the felonious conduct of others. Despite the overwhelming number of entries in the true crime genre, however, you cannot have a conversation about it without mentioning one notorious book: Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood.

Billed by its creator as a new literary form, the “nonfiction novel,” this product of the New Journalism was not actually a first of its kind. That does not lessen its impact, or its artistry.

In Cold Blood begins on the windswept plains of Kansas, outside the town of Holcomb (“The land is flat, and the views are extensive; horses, herds of cattle, a white cluster of grain elevators rising as gracefully as Greek temples…”), and ends in a cemetery underneath the same big sky (“the graves…lie in a far corner of the cemetery – beyond the trees, out in the sun, almost at the wheat field’s bright edge...”). In terms of structure, pacing, dialogue, reveals, and fully-realized scenes, this reads as good as any fiction, and far better than most.

That’s the problem, though.

A lot of it is fiction.

***

The story behind the making of In Cold Blood, which was the subject of two major motion pictures, at times threatens to subsume the underlying subject matter, like a snake eating its own tail. According to legend, Capote, a famed author and bon vivant, saw a small article in The New York Times about the murder of Herbert, Bonnie, Kenyon, and Nancy Clutter, members of a relatively well-off farming family. With his authorial senses tingling – nothing sells like murder in the heartland – Capote set off for Kansas with his buddy Nell Harper Lee. Once there, this odd couple essentially embedded themselves into the community, pumping them for information until the well ran dry. Later, once two suspects – Perry Smith and Richard Hickock – were in custody, Capote insinuated himself into their lives as well.

When all was said and done, it became hard to know whether Capote was simply a fact finder, or an active participant, one whose unseen hand actually shaped the outcome of the case.

***

Even with all its baggage, it is startling how much talent is on display here. This is a book that grips you, and insists that you keep reading. The prose is luminous, the characterizations acute, and the setting marvelously realized. Capote finds his arc, and he builds carefully around that, modulating the tension until his big payoff, before settling on as graceful an ending as you can imagine. There are moments of subdued ghastliness, such as Perry Smith’s confession:

[Alvin] Dewey’s ears ring with it – a ringing that almost deafens him to the whispery rush of Smith’s soft voice. But the voice plunges on, ejecting a fusillade of sounds and images: Hickock hunting the discharged shell; hurrying, hurrying, and Kenyon’s head in a circle of light, the murmur of muffled pleadings, then Hickock again scrambling after a used cartridge; Nancy’s room, Nancy listening to boots on hardwood stairs, the creak of the steps as they climb toward her, Nancy’s eyes, Nancy watching the flashlight’s shine seek the target (“She said, ‘Oh, no! Oh, please. No! No! No! No! Don’t! Oh, please don’t! Please!’ I gave the gun to Dick. I told him I’d done all I could do. He took aim, and she turned her face to the wall”); the dark hall, the assassins hastening toward the final door. Perhaps, having heard all she had, Bonnie welcomed their swift approach.


There are also moments when Capote describes a place – a cheap hotel room in Mexico, or the gallows in Kansas – with such tactility that you can almost reach out and touch it. In Cold Blood lives so strongly in the memory because it indelibly implants these images into your head, as well as any movie.

Towering over everything is Capote’s portrait of Perry Smith. In Cold Blood is not a whodunit. Rather, in large part, it is the character study of a killer. A cripple suffering from chronic pain in both legs – which had been crushed in a motorcycle accident – Smith grew up with an alcoholic mother who died when he was very young. He spent time in several orphanages, where he claimed to have been abused. In Capote’s compassionate hands, this victim-turned-victimizer becomes a tragically tortured figure, one so skillfully etched that his ultimately homicidal acts feel like an inevitability.

Of course, part of the problem with In Cold Blood is this very thing. By lifting up Perry Smith, Capote casts a shadow over everyone else: his partner in crime, Hickock; the law enforcement agents who caught him; and most of all, the victims themselves.

Still, if overemphasizing the killer was In Cold Blood’s only problem, it could be dismissed as a common failing of the true crime genre. After all, many (if not most) of these types of stories focus more on the criminal than the victim. Unfortunately, this is a dramatic imperative, since the criminal is the agent of action, while the victim is the passive recipient.

As noted above, however, this is not the only issue with In Cold Blood.

***


From the moment of its publication, In Cold Blood was trailed by accusations: Capote made up dialogue; Capote invented things; Capote was wrong with his interpretations.

Some of these criticisms are off base, as they involve judgment calls or sour grapes. Obviously, people who came off looking bad cried foul, but that doesn’t mean that Capote was wrong. Other criticisms, though, are right on point. The creation of scenes whole cloth, for instance, particularly rankles. For example, the book’s ending – providing a beautiful counterpoint to the opening – is so perfect that it feels fortuitous. According to one of the men involved, it was too perfect, because it never happened.

Perhaps more troubling is Capote’s absence in this story. Told objectively in the third-person – except for long portions of purportedly verbatim recollections from various participants – Capote does not place himself into events.

On the one hand, this was nice. There is a trend in modern true crime for an author to insert him or herself into the chronicle, making their personal story equal to that being presented. This can work, if done right, such as in Michelle McNamara’s posthumously released I’ll Be Gone in the Dark. But it’s hard to do right. In my opinion, many efforts suffer from this intrusion, which can be annoyingly distracting, or used as filler to supplement otherwise meager facts. In Cold Blood is blessedly free of self-conscious handwringing about the ethics of crime-writing. There are no digressions into areas about which a reader could not care less. For all of Capote's legendary ego, there is no reflective navel-gazing. Above all else, there is the thrilling sense of watching things unfold as a witness.

Yet Capote’s absence can be seen as an act of mendacity. According to some sources, he was pulling strings and moving pieces in order to shape the outcome. The extent of this can be debated. Nevertheless, I think it’s fair to say that In Cold Blood without Capote as a character cannot – for this reason alone – be considered the full story.

In the end, the controversy cannot do much to knock In Cold Blood off its pedestal. While it may not be a great work of investigative journalism, it is undoubtedly a powerful piece of art.
Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,568 reviews55.6k followers
August 14, 2021
In Cold Blood, Truman Capote

This article is about the book by Truman Capote. In Cold Blood is a non-fiction novel by American author Truman Capote, first published in 1966; it details the 1959 murders of four members of the Herbert Clutter family in the small farming community of Holcomb, Kansas.

When Capote learned of the quadruple murder, before the killers were captured, he decided to travel to Kansas and write about the crime.

He was accompanied by his childhood friend and fellow author Harper Lee, and together they interviewed local residents and investigators assigned to the case and took thousands of pages of notes. The killers, Richard "Dick" Hickock and Perry Smith, were arrested six weeks after the murders and later executed by the state of Kansas.

Capote ultimately spent six years working on the book. When finally published, In Cold Blood was an instant success, and today is the second-biggest-selling true crime book in publishing history, behind Vincent Bugliosi's 1974 book Helter Skelter about the Charles Manson murders.

عنوانهای چاپ شده در ایران: «به خونسردی»؛ «به خونسردی - شرح واقعی قتل چهار نفر و پی آمدهای آن»؛ «در کمال خونسردی»؛ نویسنده: ترومن کاپوتی؛ تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز هفدهم ماه سپتامبر سال 1998میلادی

عنوان: به خونسردی؛ نویسنده: ترومن کاپوت؛ مترجم: باهره راسخ؛ تهران، فرانکلین، 1347، در 345ص، موضوع داستانهای نویسندگان ایالات متحده آمریکا - سده 20م

عنوان: به خونسردی - شرح واقعی قتل چهار نفر و پی آمدهای آن؛ نویسنده: ترومن کاپوتی؛ مترجم: پریوش شهامت؛ تهران، نشر پیکان، 1376، در 467ص؛ شابک 9646229123؛

داستان برگرفته از خبری واقعی، از قتل‌عام یک خانواده، در «کانزاس» است، و همین رویداد به نویسنده فرصت می‌دهد، تا نخستین رمان ناداستان خویش را بنویسند؛ نویسنده زمان بسیاری را صرف گفتگو، با «شاهدان»، «دو قاتل»، و «بررسی گزارش پلیس»، می‌کنند؛ کتابشان در سال1965میلادی، با تیراژی میلیونی برایش نامداری، پیروزی و ثروت به همراه ��ی‌آورد؛ با این کتاب به اوج می‌رسند، و نمی‌توانند هرگزی کتاب دیگری در همین اندازه بنویسند؛ زندگینامه نویسش «جرالد کلارک»، علت را زمان طولانی پژوهش، و خستگی ناشی از کار سنگین ایشان می‌داند؛

تاری بهنگام رسانی 27/06/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ 22/05/1400هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for Justin.
266 reviews2,234 followers
July 21, 2017
At the beginning, In Cold Blood reads like a classic southern gothic tale. I've read about Harper Lee hanging out with Capote while he put this thing together, and at times it feels like she greatly influenced how it was written. You meet the Clutters who are just the nicest people in the world out working hard and going to school and being awesome people in the town. And, I know there's all this controversy over how the book is written since it adds fictional conversations and thoughts that Capote obviously couldn't have known, but everything is rooted in the nonfiction account of what happened, and I think it adds a deeper layer of connection to the family.

I read Helter Skelter in high school, and I remember that book starting out right from the gate with all the details of the murders before diving into the Manson family and the trial. In Cold Blood works more in reverse and saves the details for later, and my God when I got there I didn't even want to read about what happened. It was all so senseless and random. I had a hard time finishing the book after that. I just wanted it to be over.

Often beautifully and brilliantly written, sometimes tedious to get through, sometimes way too meticulous with details, sometimes spending a couple of pages discussing cats or a building or something, this book is a classic in the true crime genre. I haven't read a lot of true crime in my reading life, but I've read enough to know that this deserves a spot at the top of the list. Capote does an excellent job laying out the story, and gives the family, the murderers, and the cops an overwhelming amount of description and development. I knew more about the killers than I ever wanted to know, and I want things to go a different direction even though I knew they wouldn't.

Now I have to watch the movie, then Capote, then Infamous. This is a story that will be stuck in my head for a while. It's a harsh reminder of the evil that exists in the world, and how fragile our existence on this planet really is. It's also a very detailed account of the senseless murder of most of a family, but I took away a lot of other stuff from its pages, too. Read it.
Profile Image for Brina.
876 reviews4 followers
October 19, 2016
In Cold Blood is the new school classics selection in the group catching up on classics for November 2016. Having read Truman Capote's Breakfast at Tiffany's recently and enjoying his writing, I could not wait to read this nonfiction thriller in advance of the upcoming group read. Writing in his relaxing southern style, Capote turns a horrid crime into a story to make the how's and whys accessible to the average American. It is in this regard that I rate this thrilling classic five stars.

On November 15, 1959 Richard "Dick" Hickock and Perry Smith, on a tip from another inmate, brutally murdered four members of the Clutter family of Holcomb, Kansas. Having heard that the Clutters possessed either a safe or $10,000 cash in their home, Smith and Hickock desired this wealth for themselves so that they could live out their days in a Mexican beach resort. To their surprise and chagrin, the Clutters did not have neither the safe nor the cash, but Hickock had said to leave no witnesses. Crime committed, the pair escaped to a life of continued crimes and violence and believing that authorities would never catch up with them. And in the beginning it appeared that this ill advised lifestyle might actually work.

Due to the relentless work of the Kansas Bureau of Investigations (KBI) lead by Alvin Dewey, Hickock and Smith were eventually brought to justice and ultimately given the death penalty. Capote weaves a tale by giving us the backstory of both felons as well as a picture of Holcomb and nearby Garden City, Kansas as an idyllic place to raise a family. The crime changed everything. Families kept their doors locked and did not allow their children to venture far from home. In the surrounding areas, people viewed their lives as a before and after. Inevitably, the Clutter case lead to less community interaction and a beginning of a breakdown of society.

Yet by providing the backstories of the felons, Capote allows the the readers to emphasize with their place in society. Dick Hickock was on his way to finishing at the top of his class with a possible athletic scholarship and a degree in engineering. His family could not afford a university education even with the scholarship so Hickock went to work. An automobile accident left him partially brain damaged as his parents maintained that he was not the same person since, and this one incident lead to his adult life of crime. Smith, on the other hand, lead a bleak childhood to the point where readers would feel sorry for him. Coming from a fractured family and only a third grade education, Smith suffered from a superiority complex his entire life. His role in the Clutter murders was the consummation of a lifetime of rejection. The felons came from diametrically opposed upbringings and yet I was left feeling remorse for both.

Capote pieced together the crime to the point where I felt that I knew the people of Holcomb as well as the principal players in the crime intimately. This work lead to a new genre that brings together nonfiction and fiction in a way that history feels like a story. Both Capote and his research assistant Harper Lee ended up as award winning authors. Their fictional writing skills allowed for the personalization of this tale and ultimately help change the way many write nonfiction.

Truman Capote is one of 20th America's master storytellers, and In Cold Blood is by many considered his opus. His research was detail oriented and allowed him to bring the story of the Clutter murders to the average American home. After completing this five star work painting the picture of the how's and whys of murder, I look forward to reading more of his charming Southern stories.
Profile Image for Amy Galaviz.
22 reviews55 followers
April 10, 2008
After I read it, I looked up pictures of the Clutter family, and just stared for about five minutes. They endured what is probably everyone’s worst fear.

Having never heard anything of the Clutter murders prior to reading this book, the experience of reading it was intense, gripping, and suspenseful from beginning to end. Capote, with his impartial writing style, relayed facts and details in such a way as to give a complete character illustration of everyone involved: from each of the Clutters, to the investigators, lawyers, and even the murderers themselves. He did not reveal his personal sentiments or biases, or even presume to know right from wrong. In what he coined a “non-fiction novel,” Capote brilliantly combined the elements of a fictional murder novel with factual journalism and psychological analysis to show the moral dilemmas surrounding the act of murder.

In the section about the Clutter family life during their final days before the murders, Capote’s description of their daily routines and habits made what was to come even more troubling. Nancy and Kenyon were going through the typical hardships of adolescence; Nancy had a boyfriend of whom her father did not approve and was the most popular girl in school, while Kenyon was self-conscious, nerdy, and socially awkward. Herbert and Bonnie’s marriage was a bit shaky; Bonnie had a mysterious and fleeting mental illness, and Herbert was very busy with his farming business and did not have much time to tend to her. However, despite their problems, they maintained a strong family bond, were well-liked by the entire community, and we get a sense that things were looking up for them.

After the murder takes place, as if to intensify the suspense, Capote does not immediately reveal to us exactly how or why Perry and Dick committed the crime, but instead takes us on their journey as they attempt escape through the deep South while the investigators begin to try to solve the crime. We learn much about these two characters through their interactions with each other, letters, diary excerpts, and interviews with family members. We are brought deep into their psyche, learning everything from their personal hygiene habits to their mannerisms and quirks. In an uncomfortable yet brilliant way, Capote allows us to sympathize with the murderers, if only for a moment. What exactly went wrong with them? Did Perry Smith’s childhood of abuse, neglect, and displacement lead him to have moments of extreme callousness and violence? Dick, who had a seemingly normal childhood and a loving family, was in a car accident which left him with a permanent head injury. Was his head injury the cause of his downfall, or was it some other unknown character defect? Even though they were capable of evil and cold-heartedness, they also had goals and insecurities as well as the capacity for creativity, love, and fear. The murders were a tragic “psychological accident” (according to Alvin Dewey), the collision of two personalities gone terribly wrong with an innocent family who was in the wrong situation at the wrong time.

The final section of the book, from their first of many trials to their execution, presents us with the moral dilemmas surrounding the punishment of crime. Capote does not make any definitive conclusions, but poses many questions: Is execution right or wrong? Why the long delay (approx. 6 years) between the guilty verdict and the execution? Was a fair trial possible or necessary, given the horrific nature of the crimes committed? It is impossible to summarize the impact of this book in a few paragraphs, but it will definitely stay with me for years to come.
Profile Image for J.L.   Sutton.
651 reviews826 followers
May 13, 2020
A seminal work for the nonfiction novel and the true crime genre, Truman Capote's In Cold Blood stands apart from most of its literary descendants. Not only is it compelling and suspenseful even when you know (like many crime dramatizations) what's going to happen, it's also very well-written. In fact, its literary quality gives In Cold Blood a dimension which few other nonfiction novels will match. The evolution of the form, since In Cold Blood, is nothing short of astonishing. It makes you appreciate how different the experience of reading the book is now compared to when the book was published. Yet, it is not a stuffy classic. This work made the world safe for nonfiction! Definitely worth reading!
Profile Image for Matthew.
1,219 reviews8,686 followers
June 22, 2017
This book is one of the first, if not the first, true crime novel. According to Wikipedia, only Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders has sold more copies in the True Crime category than In Cold Blood. While true crime fans might read this today and think that it sounds like your basic true crime story, at the time it was groundbreaking to detail a crime in this much detail and in a format as big as a novel.

One of the things it appears that this novel set the precedence for, and that I have seen in other true crime novels, is that the author is not only researching the story, he is getting in the mix and talking face to face with the criminals (example - Ann Rule). Sometimes this leads to relationships and feelings that are reflected in the retelling. After you finish reading this, it is interesting to look this up online and see some of the theories about how Capote approached this crime and the people involved.

Speaking of Capote, I have never seen any of the movies about him, but it sounds like all of them focus on this part of his life – and there are at least 3 of them! I may need to check them out to see what I think. Also, I need to check out the classic film that came out shortly after publication.

One think I found very, very interesting

One thing I forgot to add when I originally wrote this review was that having read this and Breakfast At Tiffany's, it is hard to believe it is the same author. Probably the most diverse writing from the same author I have ever encountered.

True crime fans! Non-fiction fans! Fans of must read classics! You must add In Cold Blood to your list.
Profile Image for Lyn.
1,847 reviews16.3k followers
November 23, 2017
In Cold Blood by Truman Capote was described by its author as a non-fiction novel.

The novel was first published in 1965 and at the time this style of writing, perhaps even the template for a new genre, was fresh and new and bold. Almost 50 years later and the disturbing images are as fresh, vibrant and malevolent as when the ink was wet.

The style of writing has no doubt inspired generations of writers since, but their imitation has done little to diminish the power of Capote’s work. Whether it was wholly accurate or not is for journalists and scholars to debate, but for the reader, his vision was compelling and his perspective on the crime, and especially as a character study, almost a biography, on the criminals is hypnotic.

Critics may take umbrage with Capote’s sympathetic depiction of the killer’s plight, and perhaps such an argument has great merit, since the murderers showed no mercy to their victims, but Capote’s contribution lies in his objective illumination of all the surrounding facts and details of the crime. The author began with the crime scene outlines of the victims as they were stenciled on the floor of an upper middle class home in western Kansas and rippled outward until his narrative covered the lives, background and family dynamics of the victims, their murderers and the laws and cultures that had produced both.

A staggeringly detailed account of a brutal slaying, Capote has left us with a rich literary gift that should be on a list of books that must be read.

description
Profile Image for jessica.
2,479 reviews29.7k followers
April 2, 2020
as a massive bookworm and true crime enthusiast, i have no explanation for why its taken me so long to read this. maybe its because i prefer my true crime stories in the form of documentaries and podcasts. regardless, i was super excited to finally pick up the book that is considered the first true crime novel and pioneered the nonfiction subgenre.

what really surprised me about this was how capote didnt just stick to the crime and the trial. the novel-like prose explores the familys life, the community of holcomb, and the psychological complexities of the murderers.

after reading more about the process of capotes research and writing of this crime, it makes sense why he spends so much time talking about the murderers backgrounds, childhoods, relationships, and connections to each other.

for those who are only looking for facts about the crime, i would stick to the wikipedia page. for those who want in-depth character profiles, then this is the book for you.

3.5 stars
Profile Image for JEN A.
214 reviews116 followers
March 21, 2020
I know this book is considered a masterpiece. I know that I’m supposed to love it and be touched by its revolutionary take on the True crime genre but for some reason I just kept falling asleep while reading it.

The novel addresses many key points about crime in the late 50s, about our justice system, about the pros and cons of capital punishment. I just got a little lost in all the minutia of it.

I’m glad I read the book and got a taste of Truman Capote’s work but it didn’t touched me like I thought it would.
Profile Image for Nilufer Ozmekik.
2,068 reviews38.2k followers
May 8, 2021
I am embarrassed to wait too long to read two brilliant true crime story novels : one of them is Helter Skelter and the other is of course this blood chilling, disturbing book I’m reviewing right now as I’m slapping my forehead. Sometimes I have hard time to prioritize my reading list and my chubby tbr may direct me wrong kind of books! But today I’m so happy to find my way to this classic after watching it’s amazing movie adaptation.

After four members of Herbert Clutter family were brutally killed in a small town named Holcomb located in Kansas, Mr. Capote decides to write an article about those murders by traveling to this small town just before the killers are caught.

He is accompanied by the one and only Harper Lee ( we realize they are childhood friends), making interviews with the locals who know about family history and police officers who are conducting the investigation. Six weeks later two perpetrators are finally convicted and executed in Kansas.

It’s quiet different nonfiction with its elaborated, long and detailed depictions. You want to skip those parts to focus on crimes and the trial process but you find yourself enjoy those chapters which are more like his short fiction stories than a nonfiction directly talking about the facts of crime.

Mr. Capote finish this book in six years and organize those thousands of pages interviews with people chronically. It was truly fascinating, unique classic. Especially loyal fans of true crime stories shouldn’t miss it! I’m so relieved to read at last!

My favorite quotes:
“Just remember: If one bird carried every grain of sand, grain by grain, across the ocean, by the time he got them all on the other side, that would only be the beginning of eternity.”

“Imagination, of course, can open any door - turn the key and let terror walk right in.”

“The enemy was anyone who was someone he wanted to be or who had anything he wanted to have.”

“Those fellows, they're always crying over killers. Never a thought for the victims.”

“In school we only learn to recognize the words and to spell but the application of these words to real life is another thing that only life and living can give us.”
Profile Image for Stephen.
1,517 reviews10.8k followers
April 13, 2011
emerson-1v2

PART 1: STEVE’S REVIEW

4.0 to 4.5 stars. Written over a period of 7 years and published in 1966, this novel, while not technically the first “true crime” non-fiction novel, is credited (correctly) with establishing the genre and being the progenitor of today's true crime novel. I would certainly agree that most of the other true crime novels that I have read followed almost the exact "blue print" laid out by Capote in this book. That is quite a testament to the technical excellence of this novel.

The book recounts the story of the brutal murders in Holcomb, Kansas of a farmer named Herb Clutter, his wife and their two children. The book spends the early pages going back and forth between introducing the reader to the Clutter family and also to the two murderers, Perry Smith and Dick Hickock. I thought Capote did a superb job of allowing the reader to “get to know” the Clutter family (and the killers for that matter) so that impact of the actual murders would resonate more deeply.

Overall, I thought the job that Capote did of laying out the story in the sequence that he did was masterful. By following the structure that he did he was able to keep the narrative tension high throughout the entire novel. This is a difficult task to accomplish when both the nature of the crime itself and the eventual fate of the perpetrators are known before you even pick up the book. However, Capote pulls it off and for that he deserves much credit.

The novel is also much more comprehensive than just a detailed restatement of the murders. The book spends considerable time showing the effect the killings had on the Holcomb community and how different people responded to the event both postively and negatively. It follows the killers, both leading up to the murders and also during their time in hiding afterwards. Further, it recounts the actions of the police and the manhunt that eventually led to the capture of Smith and Hickock. Lastly, Capote spends considerable time on the trial of the two killers as well as the effect the trial and its aftermath had on the people most closely involved with the case.

Overall, I thought the book was just about perfect in its execution. The critical events are detailed and fully-fleshed out without excess padding over the book’s 400 pages. I thought it was very interesting to discover that Capote produced almost 8000 pages worth of transcripts, notes and commentary from which he then distilled the final product. This certainly highlights the painstaking research Capote did and the unprecedented access he was given to the events and people surrounding this tragedy.

An amazing achievement and one that I HIGHLY RECOMMEND people read.

PART 2: STEVE’S CONFESSION

I only gave this book 4.0 to 4.5 stars. I feel weird saying “only” when the rating means I more than really liked it (call it really, really, super duper liked it). It just wasn’t memorable enough for me to give it 5 stars. Sadly, I think this says more about me than it does about the merits of the book. The recounting of the killings just did not have the emotional impact on me that I think, in all fairness, they should have. I guess you could say that I was shocked to find myself “not shocked” by the recounting of the murders.

Unfortunately, having grown up in a world that has been witness to horrors so far beyond the tragic events described in the novel, the slayings did not evoke the kind of visceral reaction that I would have expected. A contributing factor to this may be that at the same time as I was listening to this book on audio, I was reading Jack Ketchum’s Off Season and DRACULAS by J.A. Konrath et al, two of the goriest books I have ever read. The horrors recounted in Capote’s novel came across as very PG to PG-13. Again, that is both a sad and scary thing to realize just how “comfortable” you can become reading, watching or hearing about crimes like this one. I think this last comment leads nicely into the next section.

PART 3: STEVE’S RANT

Have the horrors of the world today really become so fucking “over the top” extreme that they have numbed me to the point where reading about the pre-meditated, unprovoked murder of a family of four doesn’t quite have the requisite “shock value” to immediately cause bile to rise in the back of my throat. In all honesty, YES!! In fact, I believe that as horrific as the killings were they would barely be a two minute headline on the evening news today. When you really stop to think about it, how catastrophically and dementedly fucked up is that!!

The truth is that nowadays events like the Clutter family killings happen all too often. In fact, it's possible that if the murders happened today they might go completely ignored by everyone except the local news where they occurred. Sadly, when on any given day we might be hearing about some troubled teen going “Columbine” on his classmates because some douche bag tripped him in the lunch room or reading about some disgruntled worker deciding that the boss who fired him doesn’t deserve to live and so proceeds to kill a dozen of his former co-workers because they are in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Don’t take my comments as advocating the curtailment of ANY form of entertainment being made today whether it be books, movies, music, video games or TV shows. NO, NO, No and please NO!! I like and love my violent, over the top, blood-soaked books, graphic novels and even TV shows (pause for a big shout out to Dexter). Now I could do without most of the real gory, slasher type films but hey, to each their own.

So this is not about advocating change in what we watch or read (I certainly have no plans to change). I am simply recognizing the fact that as a society we have fallen down the “rabbit hole” and are living in a fucked up, violent, blood-soaked world that tears at our empathy on a daily basis. It is just something that many of us (myself included) seem to have become all too comfortable with it. Whether its loving us some Tony Soprano (and c’mon how can you not) or laughing as we shoot hookers during a game of Grand Theft Auto (I would note without further comment the current serial killings involving prostitutes) or hearing about another 5 dead American soldiers killed by a roadside bomb and then casually changing the channel to get back to the ball game so you can put it out of your mind.

This is us. We have become the world that Cormac McCarthy envisioned in No Country for Old Men and, like Sheriff Tom Bell in McCarthy’s novel, I think it would be impossible for the people of Capote’s time to imagine the world as it is today.

I am not sure what, if anything, all this says about us or me, but there you have it. Rant over, review concluded.
Profile Image for Julie G .
858 reviews2,633 followers
October 10, 2020
Reading Road Trip 2020

Current location: Kansas

How can I explain this? It was like I wasn't part of it. More as though I was reading a story. And I had to know what was going to happen. The end.

If you ask a random American to name a book they associate with the state of Kansas, they will most likely answer The Wonderful World of Oz (a story more popularly known by the movie's name, The Wizard of Oz).

If you ask a devoted reader the same question, you will get Oz, for sure, but you'll have a quick second answer: In Cold Blood.

Having already read Frank Baum's underwhelming story about Oz several years ago, I knew this book would be my obvious choice for Kansas.

But I didn't want it to be.

You see. . . although I respect Truman Capote as a writer, I am not the reader for this. I don't read “true crime” novels, and I don't read horror, real or otherwise.

And this is horror. Real life horror. And it is. . . horrific.

I can't think of a better way to express to you what my experience of reading this book looked like this week other than to share this photo of a beloved Seinfeld episode:



As implausible as it seems, both The Wizard of Oz and In Cold Blood do share something in common. . . two really creepy bad guys:



But, even though I'm trying to lighten the mood with a little humor here, it's only an act. I experienced nothing but heaviness this week. This is a heartbreaking true story, and, even though I believe it to be Mr. Capote's magnum opus, I can only express the greatest relief that this particular read is over. (Thus four stars, not five. Five, for me, means I look forward to a reread).

This is a story of broken people who broke people. It was soul crushing for me.

To be murdered. To be murdered. No. No. There's nothing worse. Nothing worse than that. Nothing.
Profile Image for emma.
1,784 reviews42.9k followers
March 13, 2018
I do not, as I have said many a time, feel things very often. I am just shy of being a sociopathic monster, mainly because I consider myself to be way too cute and charming for that. (Except sociopaths are capable of charm...huh. Back to the drawing board.)

Anyway. Even in my actual, real life, I try to experience emotions as infrequently as possible. This is only truer for the books I read.

In Cold Blood is a true crime narrative detailing the crime, investigation, and trial related to the murder of four members of the Clutter family, and therefore I wasn’t planning on feeling anything if at all possible. Because, duh, emotions related to that aren’t exactly going to be the equivalent of “eating cotton candy while at the top of a Ferris wheel at a fair in the beginning of summer” or “hearing an infant laugh for the first time.”

And yet, by page 50, Truman Capote had me feeling overwhelmingly fond of the Clutter family.

I knew what was going to happen to them. Even if I hadn’t known the book’s synopsis going in, I would have felt the building tension.

Somehow, though, even though I knew what was coming, I was really hoping the Clutters would be okay.

Mr. Clutter, the tenet of his community. Mrs. Clutter, who finally felt she might be overcoming her lifelong struggle with mental health. Nancy, the sweet, kind teenager who overbooked herself because she didn’t want to say no to anybody. Kenyon, nerdier than his older sister, but smart and kind and passionate.

As I read about their lives on and before November 15, 1959, I hoped they would be okay. Even as Perry Smith and Dick Hickock entered their home late at night, I hoped they would somehow leave a survivor.

What I expected out of this book was an exciting, impressive rendering of a horrible crime. I got a lot more. I was made to care about these people, and to feel their loss. I empathized with their loved ones, their community, their police force. I could have read about the Clutters for much longer than I did.

Unfortunately, the Clutters and the crime itself only took up about a third of the book. The remaining two thirds followed the investigation and the trial, but more than that, it followed the killers.

I felt no pity for Dick Hickock. I don’t think I was supposed to, or I hope I wasn’t. Because that guy was a piece of total sh*t. I’m someone who believes that people can be partially exonerated by their circumstances, but Dick Hickock had no circumstance that could make up for what a f*cker he was.

Perry Smith, on the other hand. Even for him, who suffered all his life, I was only able to feel partial pity. A sickening kind of pity - it nauseated me to read about him.

Maybe if this book felt more focused on the Clutters, I would have given it five stars. I don’t know. It’s still a four star read because it’s so impressive. It’s no wonder that this book to some extent birthed the genre of true crime as it is today. The exhaustive research and attention to detail is pretty much astonishing, and the writing is for the most part beautiful.

But the later parts of the narrative were sickening, and hard and unpleasant to read. Not just for their content, but for the treatment of the people it followed. I don’t know. It felt like it strayed a lot from the Clutters. Maybe it wasn’t ever supposed to be their story - maybe it was Perry and Dick’s all along. But I’d prefer to think it wasn’t.

Bottom line: I love true crime. I love classics. This feels outside of both of those genres. Genre-defying. I don’t even know what it is. It’s good. Hopefully that’s enough.


-------------
PRE-REVIEW

i am so glad that i'm sticking to my plan of reading a classic a month. (i'm so proud of myself you'd never guess it's THE SECOND MONTH OF THE YEAR.)

i always forget how much i love classics until i pick them up??? they're classic for a reason.

whatever. i digress. this is a great book and i'll review it at some point hurray
June 21, 2018
Τα πέντε αστέρια δίνονται πρόθυμα, ειλικρινή και ένθερμα στο «Εν ψυχρώ», πρωτίστως για την εκπληκτική δουλειά του συγγραφέα και τον διακριτικό, ταπεινό, διεισδυτικό σεβασμό που χαρακτηρίζει την τεχνική ύφους και γραφής του βιβλίου.

Ακολουθεί μια σιωπηρή αξιοπρέπεια στην αφήγηση των γεγονότων χωρίς να αποστασιοποιείται απο την τραγωδία, δίχως επικλήσεις συναισθηματικών εξάρσεων, χωρίς επιτήδευση και μακριά απο την τυπική δημοσιογραφική προσέγγιση.
Ένα λογοτεχνικό έργο που δεν δείχνει, δεν προμηνύει το μακριά, το μέλλον, το μετά, μα εστιάζει στην ουσία της πραγματικής ιστορίας.
Καταφέρνει με αριστουργηματικό τρόπο να παραμένει αόρατη η μακρόχρονη έρευνα και επεξεργασία που έκανε πριν μας χαρίσει μια αληθινή αίσθηση εγκληματικής φαντασίας ως εν ψυχρώ εμπειρία.

Το βιβλίο αναφέρεται σε μια ανατριχιαστικά βάναυση δολοφονία μιας ευκατάστατης, αγροτικής οικογένειας, στο Κάνσας το 1959.
Οι δολοφόνοι, δυο περιθωριακοί, απλοί τυχοδιώκτες, θύτες και θύματα μιας αγιάτρευτης κοινωνικής ψυχοπαθογένειας.
Το κίνητρο τους αβάσιμο, το σκεπτικό τους ασταθές, το έγκλημα τους μοιραία και ανησυχητικά τυχαίο.
Η εξέλιξη γεγονότων και συμπτώσεων που προκαλούν τον αφανισμό της οικογένειας είναι μια λεπτή διαχωριστική γραμμή ανάμεσα στα πάντα,που φαίνονται και είναι κανονικά στην καθημερινότητα των ανθρώπων και στην απόλυτη καταστροφή, που χτυπάει ξαφνικά απο το πουθενά.

Ο θεμελιώδης σεβασμός είναι το στοιχείο που διεισδύει και μεταφέρεται σε όλο το βιβλίο.
Ο Καπότε σέβεται την οικογένεια των θυμάτων που τους σκιαγραφεί με απόλυτα κομψό άγγιγμα.
Αποδέχεται χωρίς μεγαλοστομίες την τοπική επιβολή των νόμων στην αγροτική περιοχή καθώς και τον τρόπο ζωής και σκέψης του λαού της.
Δείχνει βαθιά εκτίμηση σε κάθε ανθρώπινη ύπαρξη, σε θεσμούς και φορείς που συνθέτουν την λειτουργεία της κοινωνίας.
Ακόμη κι όταν αμφισβητεί τη δικαστική διαδικασία το κάνει σιωπηρά και όσο πιο αντικειμενικά θα άρμοζε στην αξιοπρέπεια.

Θαύμασα απεριόριστα το σπουδαίο ταλέντο της ενσυναίσθησης του συγγραφέα καθώς και την κατανόηση που εκφράζει όταν αναλύει τις ζωές των δολοφόνων.
Σε πρώτη φάση αφηγείται την πορεία των γεγονότων προς το έγκλημα με σαφήνεια, μα σε πιο βαθύ επίπεδο τα αφήνει όλα μυστήρια, αναπάντητα και ανεξήγητα αναφορικά με τις αιτίες που δημιουργούν έναν δολοφόνο.
Αίσθηση τραγωδίας διαπνέει την διαμόρφωση της ζωής τους, μα ο τελικός απολογισμός δείχνει καθαρά να σέβεται όχι το «ποιοι» ήταν οι δολοφόνοι αλλά το ποιοι θα «μπορούσαν» να είναι.

*Αξιοθαύμαστο*

Η απίστευτη λεπτομέρεια στην περιγραφή, τα στοιχεία που συνέθεσαν το αποτέλεσμα, το ίδιο το έγκλημα, οι δραστηριότητες των εμπλεκομένων στην υπόθεση ή των απλών παρατηρητών, καθώς και αναλυτικές συσχετίσεις με άλλα εγκλήματα εξίσου απεχθή και ανελέητα, αποκαλύπτουν την αξία του συγγραφέα.

Τίποτα δεν ακυρώνει το βασικό αίσθημα της τραγωδίας και το τελικό αποτέλεσμα ολοκληρώνεται με μια αιώνια σύγκρουση.
Η ρίζα του κακού είναι η μόνιμη φθονερή αντιπαράθεση δυο κόσμων που οριοθετούν την παγκόσμια κοινωνία.

Ο δυσλειτουργικός, βίαιος, στερημένος κόσμος των ασθενέστερων κοινωνικών στρωμάτων εκδικείται με αναδρομικά κατάλοιπα τους εκπροσώπους των τακτοποιημένων και ευκατάστατων κοινωνικών τάξεων που εκπροσωπούν επιτυχία και εξουσία.

Τελειώνοντας αφήνει την πικρή γεύση της ανασφάλειας και του φόβου στον αναγνώστη που μπορεί να ξεχωρίσει τους δυο κόσμους ... και να συμπεράνει ως εκ τούτου, πως, τέτοιου είδους μυστήρια πίσω απο αυτή την ιστορία, μένουν πάντα ανεξιχνίαστα.

Ό,τι παραμένει για πάντα ανεπίλυτο είναι προφανές πως μπορεί να επαναληφθεί και να εξελιχθεί με πιο δραματική βάση και ουσία.



Καλή ανάγνωση.
Πολλούς ασπασμούς.
Profile Image for Ginger.
721 reviews316 followers
April 30, 2017
I thought to myself, do I need to write another review for one of the best true crime books ever written? And then I thought, yeah, you do. You’ve written reviews on terrible, stupid and boring books and a book this good, it definitely deserves another one. This is the best story about true crime that I have ever read. Hands down.

After painting a peaceful scene in the Midwest plains of America, evil makes it's presence felt. This is how the book starts and Truman Capote’s writing had my blood chilled and my heart sad for the victims.

It is about the murders in 1959 of the Clutter family at their farmhouse in Holcomb, Kansas. The four murders received a ton of media attention, as the motive was unclear.

For the reader, Capote’s vision was gripping and his outtake on the crime was fantastic. His character study was almost a biography. The killers were still impulsive and cruel, but he got into their minds and made them seem more human.

Capote took an actual event, a gruesome crime, and used his writing to bring it to life. The sad truth is that if he had not written In Cold Blood, no one outside of Holcomb, Kansas would know who the Clutter family is or the killers, Perry Smith and Dick Hickock. The murders and the execution effectively ended all of their lives but Truman Capote gave them all immortality in this amazing book.
Profile Image for Brandice.
799 reviews
October 17, 2018
In Cold Blood is a non-fiction recount about the murder of the Clutter family in Holcomb, Kansas on a November night in 1959. Admittedly, I knew very little of the story prior to reading this book, as this took place well before my time, nearly 30 years before I was born. This is the first Capote book I’ve read and despite the somber subject, I found it to be an engaging read.

It’s impressive that Capote was able to reconstruct the story, background and investigation with the level of detail provided throughout the book. I felt like a thorough picture was painted of who the Clutter family was, as well as who the two murderers were. Troubled pasts and pent up resentments are no excuse for the horrific crime they committed, though it was interesting to rewind and see how the killers had reached this point. I was not unhappy to see justice ultimately served in this case.

I enjoyed Capote’s writing style in In Cold Blood, a leisurely build - initially two “separate” stories that undoubtedly, knowing the premise of the book, will intertwine at some point, and continue keep you engaged all along the way.
Profile Image for Annemarie.
249 reviews683 followers
September 4, 2020
This honestly is one of the best books I have ever read and it certainly was the best non-fiction book I have ever read.
I was utterly captivated by it, from start to finish. The way it was written was just so perfect and fitting - incredibly suspenseful and matter of fact, but still with a touch of emotion.
I think the official term for this book is "non-fiction novel" and while I get why it gets this label, I personally wouldn't actually call it that. Sure, it has the quality of a novel and shares some of the characteristics, but there is something else there, something that makes this specific book unique. Even though it's as captivating as a novel, it doesn't exactly read like fiction. I was always painfully aware that this is NOT a made up story, that all of this has, in fact, really happened. The whole thing was told with so much intensity that you just KNOW that all of this HAS to come from real life.
It was extremely easy for me to picture everything in my head, literally everything! There was an entire movie playing in my head while reading and I loved. every. single. second. of it.

Something I also very much appreciated was the fact that Capote didn't insert himself into the story. If you do some googling, you can find out how interesting his research journey was. To give you a short summary: He drove to the area of the crime shortly after it happened, accompanied by his childhood friend Harper Lee (yes, that Harper Lee), they talked to residents and investigators and together they collected over 8.000 (!) notes; later Capote also talked to the perpetrators directly - altogether he worked six years on the book.
I'm sure he would have had lots to tell about this whole journey and I'm sure it would have been interesting as well. HOWEVER, it would have been ill-fitting and inappropriate in a book about such a serious topic. Capote concentrated on what's important - why and how these murders were committed and who the killers and, more importantly, who the victims were. The whole thing just seemed really respectful, everyone got the amount of time and space they deserved.
I make such a big deal out of this because I've seen it happen before, someone writing a non-fiction book and them making a lot of it about themselves and their own life, making the whole thing part-memoir. When I pick up a book about a certain topic I expect to read about this topic and not about the authors life! So yeah, I am very much thankful that Capote focused on the right things here.

All in all, this truly was just a magnificent book. Seriously, I could write down every single positive adjective in the English language and all of them would express what I feel.
I recommend it to everyone, even to the people who aren't particularly interested in true crime, simply so you can experience some wonderful and well thought out writing.
Profile Image for Mark  Porton.
351 reviews294 followers
January 29, 2022
There is no doubting Truman Capote is a writer extraordinaire. For those of you who haven’t read this classic piece (I think I was the only person on this planet not to do so - oh, and Antoinette, Annie, Jonathan, Rebecca, Lori et al) – it’s really an excellent work of journalism. Capote spent six years researching the brutal murders of four members of the Clutter family in Holcomb, Kansas back in 1959. During this time he got to know the two murderers Perry Smith and Dick Hickock.

One aspect of this work I really like is the fact Capote humanises these two characters. It is always so easy to label the likes of Perry Smith and Dick Hickock as monsters and be done with it. But, as heinous as their crimes are – and they are – they still have stories to tell. Capote manages to do this with a very fine brush, he strikes a balance of not being supportive and not being hostile to these two men. It is a fine example of objective storytelling.

On that, Capote does present this as a story. It could easily have been written as a gruesome piece of fiction. There is no need to describe the murders in this review, but for two guys to commit such acts just goes to show, these kinds walk amongst us.

In Cold Blood comes in at a relatively underweight 340 pages, but it reads like a morbidly obese 800-page chunkster. You know the type of book? Every page jam-packed with text, small font, each paragraph gorged with intricate detail. No skim reading here, as each word is important. If you are tired and want to ‘flick’ through a paragraph or two, you’ll be found out – GOTYA!! I did have to re-read some sections again.

The reasons I didn’t give this 5-stars are twofold:

1. I am going to be stingier with my stars in 2022. I’ve been throwing around stars like a drunken sailor – thus devaluing the currency.

2. There were some sections of this book I found to be much too heavy going. Capote did go off on several historical tangents, these contained incredible detail – and sometimes, usually after a long day – I just thought ”Enough Already”. But it’s more me than Truman – perhaps I wasn’t up to his writing?

There is plenty here for one to go researching these murders, the Clutter family and the perpetrators. The physical descriptions of Smith and Hickock in this book are really accurate. There’s plenty of other details to cross reference too if you enjoy that sort of thing – and who doesn’t?

I did watch a Johnny Carson interview of Capote on YouTube yesterday where the latter explained that watching the hanging of the two murderers was enough to put anybody off Capital Punishment. Apparently it can take up to twenty minutes for the heart to stop beating. Gruesome stuff and this observation in no way mitigates the severity and brutality of the crimes that took place in Holcomb, Kansas back in 1959.

If you do take the time with this one, you will find out it’s worth it.

4 Stars (maybe a bit stingy but 2022 is the year of Miser Mark)
December 22, 2020
Chilling
An outstanding and powerful work of literature, even more impressive because it conveyed true crimes, a profound investigative insight, the vivid sense of time and place, and the atmosphere that cloaked the evil events carried out on November 15 in 1959, in Holcomb, Kansas. Truman Capote is an artist that painted every detail of the story with such a detailed flow that causes us to stop and appreciate the surroundings rather than wishing the story was being pushed at a faster pace.

Looking at America in the 50s from the perspective of a foreigner we often think more of a Holywood version of an innocent age, affluent, white picket fences, apple pie, and rock and roll pervading the airwaves. If anyone asked me when and where I'd liked to have lived it would have been the US in the 1950s. In Cold Blood smashes that image with the reality that cruelty can take away life, a community’s character and the idyllic vision I'd imagined above.

The murders of four of the Clutter family by Dick Hickock and Perry Smith for $40, stunned not only the population of Holcomb but ultimately a world-wide audience. My vision, I so wanted to believe of the US, couldn't have been better envisioned than by Holcomb in the 1950s, where families rarely locked their doors and the safety of the neighbourhood was never doubted. Hickock and Smith not only brutally destroyed the lives of four innocent people but destroyed the fundamental promise of safety in our own homes.

The story explores the background of the murderers, what drove them, how they considered what they had done, the investigation into the crimes, and the community that became fearful and suspicious that for a long time they did not know who was responsible. To achieve this nonfiction novel with such beautiful prose is a seminal point in literature where it is arguable that Capote created a new genre.

I have for a long time been fascinated by the relationship between Truman Capote and Harper Lee and how they helped each other research and draft their renowned classics. It is interesting that Harper Lee had been inspired during the ‘In Cold Blood’ collaboration with Capote to research and use the case of Robert Burns who shot dead the serial killer, Reverend Willie Maxwell, to write her own true-crime novel - which never materialised. Another relationship Capote shattered during his years of self-destruction.

I do believe this is a must-read novel and is surely a classic and a powerful combination of true-crime with such beautiful writing talent. I have my wonderful friend Julie Grippo who encouraged me to read this book and read along with me when I had the opportunity to do so. Thank you so much, Julie, and please see her brilliant review at https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...
Profile Image for Kay ❦.
1,882 reviews589 followers
January 29, 2022
I almost gave up on this classic. The reason I didn't is that this was the very first book I added to my want-to-read shelf when I signed up for this account in 2014! It'll bring bad juju if you know what I mean. 😶‍🌫️

I thought he was a very nice gentleman. Soft-spoken. I thought so right up to the moment I cut his throat.

This is a true crime classic published in 1965. In Cold Blood covers a detailed account of the murder, investigation, trial, and execution in the Clutter family murder case. Four members of the Clutter family were bound, gagged, and shot in the head at their Holcomb, Kansas home. Father (also got his throat slashed), mother, and their two youngest high school-age children.

I had to listen to the first hour of the audiobook twice. This is rather strange where the middle of the book held most of my attention, the investigation. I had to remind myself this isn't fiction! The trial was rather exhausting and very detailed. What I found interesting is Capote traveled to Kansas to investigate/research for the book with fellow author and friend Harper Lee. The book was completed and published a few months after the execution of the perpetrators.

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Profile Image for Reev Robledo.
Author 9 books54 followers
September 21, 2012
Capote paints perfect pictures of every character. You can almost feel them breathing right beside you. Their thoughts, their mannerisms, their physique, their psyche, etc. Bravo.

He painstakingly describes every detail—with thousands of commas and dashes preceding thousands of commas and dashes—his keen sense of observation (and exaggeration) is both impressive and tiring at the same time. I felt that Truman probably held the details of every interview close to his heart hence a lot of unnecessary banter between town-folk, relatives and even very minor characters were not omitted. The conversations were crucial, but somewhat too plenty.

I couldn't help but think of one of Disney's famous editing principles while reading this book: If it's not important in the telling of the story, cut it out. Of course, this is way beyond the family-oriented themes good ol' Walt implemented. It's gruesome, shocking and certainly deserves the accolade of the "true-crime" genre.

I love how Capote matter-of-factly drops sentences that depict the horror of the crime done after a rather mundane recollection of events. "I slit his throat." is one. Narratives of Nancy, Sue, Al Dewey stood out, perhaps because they had a natural flow to the story-telling and did not sound like a police report. Mrs. Kidwell's dream, though briefly described and wildly unbelievable, was haunting.

Now let me tell you why I am not impressed. My biggest question is: Would I have enjoyed this book if I didn't know that it was real? Will it stand up on its own minus the decades of controversy around it?

The answer lies in the text itself. The book is obviously a novelized transcript of interviews: if it isn't, then it certainly felt like it was. Truman Capote "filled in the blanks" with suppositions, questionable truths, and fictional drama—that wouldn't be an issue had he not boldly claimed his work to be "non-fiction".

It is my belief that Truman wanted to shock the mainstream with his empathic crusade for the murderers. Without question, he had an affinity for Perry and Judge Tate, and a clear distaste for Dick. Perhaps during the interviews, Hickok was appalled by Truman's nosy intrusions and homosexuality—that's just a guess—while Smith was more accommodating.

I am not sure if I am simply desensitized by the countless crime books, tv shows and movies I've seen. But I did not feel an ounce of pity towards the criminals. Things would have probably been different if I had read this in the 60s or 70s when coverage of crimes like these were bold and anti-Hollywood, therefore "cool".

Forgive my natural tendency to reject what's popular...for what most claim to be "a really great novel". I just had too many "Oh c'mon, how could you (Capote) have been there to know that?" moments to merit praise. Based on further research, many of the characters deny that many events in the book (Mrs. Meir having a picnic with Perry in jail for one) really happened.

Had this been categorized as a tale based on true events, then I would have given it double the stars. If you say this story is true, then I'll be doggoned if pertinent details were fabricated just to express that "creative license". It doesn't only not help in the telling of the story, it just makes the story something else entirely—a fictional one.
Profile Image for Michael.
657 reviews968 followers
March 15, 2020
A sprawling, unflinching look into a grisly small-town murder motivated by greed and enabled by an astounding indifference to human suffering, written in arresting prose that fully renders the psychology of the perpetrators and victims alike.
Profile Image for Bionic Jean.
1,214 reviews1,004 followers
December 12, 2022
As an English reader I had not heard of the Clutter massacre, and all I knew about Truman Capote was his novel "Breakfast at Tiffany's". It took a while before I recognised this novel as truly great. The 1950's domesticity did not appeal to me. It seemed alien, claustrophobic, gender-specific and rather dull. But after a while I realised the genius in describing the setting of this time and place to the minutest detail.

The "New York Times" calls In Cold Blood

"The best documentary account of an American crime ever written."

It is a ground-breaking book by Truman Capote, generally agreed to be the first factual novel, although others had explored the idea before. It is about the murders in 1959 of the Clutter family at their farmhouse in Holcomb, Kansas. The four murders received a lot of media attention, as the motive was unclear. Partly because of this Capote and his friend author Harper Lee decided to travel to Kansas to write about the crime before the killers were apprehended. They painstakingly interviewed all the local residents and investigators, taking numerous notes which Capote subsequently worked into his novel over the next six years.

The killers, Dick Hickock and Perry Smith were arrested six weeks after the murders, but Capote does not start at that point; not at the point of the actual slayings for dramatic effect, as many writers would. He starts by describing the comfortable, happy family lives of devout Christian people living in the small town of Holcomb down to the smallest detail. Their daily lives, the aspirations of both old and young, the clinical depression of Bonnie Clutter (the mother, Herbert's wife) are all carefully set down. Carefully woven into the narrative, Capote also writes a dispassionate account of the killers' early childhoods, recording the highlights and events which in retrospect seem shocking in the extreme, but are so meticulously recorded by Capote that they form a non-judgmental picture.

It is the juxtaposition made by Capote which means that the reader assesses the situation for themselves. The impoverished and brutal early childhood (some of the cruellest episodes ironically were perpetrated by nuns) of Perry Smith contrasts sharply with the settled happy community who had been devastated by the event. First hand accounts from the residents are included. Most were fearful; all were stunned and confused. Some bent on revenge, some on forgiveness. Every single one in this church-going community seemed to want to do the Right Thing, though they differed as to what that was.

The feelings - the stress and deteriorating health of investigators involved - became more intense as the search went on. Truman increases the feeling of suspense as the search continued whilst making us more familiar with the two characters who had perpetrated it, so we are familiar with both Perry Smith's abusive childhood and Dick Hickock's head injuries and possible brain trauma following a car crash in 1950. At no point however does the author comment on such episodes; he remains impartial. He does not really need to. The reader now has ample material to make subtle inferences as to how responsible for their actions these two could be.

The actual murders are recorded about halfway through the book, and the following 6 weeks where they were on the run is chronicled as a time when the relationship between the two was breaking down. Here are the thoughts of Dick Hickock, as he envisages setting off on his own, as set down by Capote.

"Goodbye, Perry. Dick was sick of him - his harmonica, his aches and ills, his superstitions, the weepy womanly eyes, the nagging, whispering voice. Suspicious, self-righteous, spiteful he was like a wife that must be got rid of."

In turn Perry Smith is beginning to wonder why he ever admired Dick Hickock, who takes a delight in running over stray dogs and prefers to steal even when they do have money in their pockets. Both are coming across as extremely damaged personalities, before we ever get to any formal psychiatric analysis.

The pair were eventually tracked down by the evidence of a former cell-mate Floyd Wells. Having himself worked for Herbert Clutter he chatted to Dick Hickock about how well off this Methodist family were, giving details of the farmhouse, habits of the family, whether they had a safe etc. When he saw the subsequent use Dick Hickock had made of the information he told the police. (He claimed that although Hickock had stated to him that he would kill all the family, such boasts were so common in prison as to be meaningless. In addition, there was a reward for information.)

There was enough other evidence to convict the pair - photographs made of bloody shoe prints which had been invisible to the naked eye, a radio which had been stolen from the house at the time of the attack and subsequently sold ... It seems precious little evidence to present-day readers used to DNA analysis etc, but coupled with the evidence given by the prisoners later, as to where they had disposed of the weapons etc, this was enough at the time.

Capote uses the statements made by both prisoners (who were kept separate so that there could be no collaboration) to describe these horrific events. By this clever device the part of the novel which could have been almost unbearable to read takes on a clinical feel. It is never sensationalist or gratuitous. These are the killers' own words.

At this point the complex psychological relationship between the men comes more into prominence. We already feel we know these men; we know perhaps some of the reasons why they were able to do what they did. It is becoming poignantly clear that what sparked the actual events was the complex relationship between the two, who in turn relied on each other, admired each other, hated each other ... Here is a quote from Perry Smith to detective Dewey,

"Then he says to me as we're heading along the hall towards Nancy's room, "I'm gonna bust that little girl." And I said, "Uh-huh. But you'll have to kill me first"….that's something that I despise. Anybody that can't control themselves sexually."

And again, most revealingly as picked up by a psychologist later,

"I didn't want to harm the man. I thought he was a very nice gentleman. Soft-spoken. I thought so right up to the moment I cut his throat."

And of Dick Hickock, "I meant to call his bluff… I didn't realise what I'd done til I heard the sound. Like somebody drowning…. Dick panicked….I couldn't leave him like he was…. Then I aimed the gun."

Dick Hickock also shared this antagonism against his partner, but it was only later when his former cellmate Floyd Wells was called as witness, that Capote says, with a flash of insight he realised he was not as dangerous as Perry. "Suddenly he saw the truth. It was Perry he ought to have silenced."

Capote states that Alvin Dewey, the investigator most involved with this case considered that the two versions of the killings were very much alike. But he concluded that the confessions of how and why failed to satisfy his sense of meaningful design. The crime was a psychological accident, virtually an impersonal act. The actual amount of money stolen was between 40 and 50 dollars.

The lead up to the trial, as everything else, is carefully documented. The choice of legal representation, of the judge, of the jurors. One potential juror said, when asked his opinion of capital punishment, that he was ordinarily against it, but in this case, no. Yet he was still allocated to the jury. There were no qualified psychiatrists within Garden City, where the trial held. The prosecuting attorney referred to the profession as a

"pack of head-healers" sympathetic to the defendants. "Those fellows, they're always worrying over the killers. Never a thought for the victims….. Our own local physicians attend to the matter. It's no great job to find whether a man is insane or an idiot or an imbecile."

Whereas the defending counsel said, "Whatever their crime, these men are entitled to examination by persons of training and experience… Psychiatry has matured rapidly in the last twenty years."

Listening to both sides, the judge acted strictly within law, appointing 3 Garden City doctors, despite the fact that the unpaid services of a qualified psychiatrist experienced in such cases had been offered.

Details from the trial stick in the memory. The testimony of Dick Hickock's father, who was seriously ill at the time (he died months later) but was mocked by the prosecuting attorney for getting the dates of the car accident which led to his son's head injuries and subsequent personality change wrong. One eminent psychiatrist had been called as a defence witness. However the judge only allowed him a yes/no answer to the question, could he could state that the defendants knew the difference between right and wrong. He answered "Yes" in respect of the first one, then was dismissed. No further comment was allowed. Presumably faced with an impossible question to answer in those terms he then answered "No" to the question when put about the second accused. Again, no further elucidation was allowed by the judge, as this was perfectly allowable under Kansas law.

Capote goes on to quote the psychiatrist's prepared analysis, after his examinations of the defendants, which presents a much fuller picture. The conditions described after several intensive interviews he had had with the killers use terms which are more familiar to modern readers - organic brain damage from the accident, schizophrenia and dissociative behaviour, where an individual suddenly finds himself destroying some key figure in his past, who may be unclear to him. They may well have been new concepts to the jurors who were in the main farming people, but they were not privy to this crucial information in any case.

Although the ending of the trial is a foregone conclusion, the actual execution of Dick Hickock and Perry Smith did not take place for a further 5 years. Capote explains that in the US judicial system it is possible to appeal several times, and that this is common practice. He spends a further part of the novel in describing the characters and crimes committed by various other inmates on Death Row. Interestingly, this part of the novel is not as objective as the rest. Capote's feelings begin to impose more. Perhaps it did not seem as important to be scrupulously impartial as these cases were not crucial to the main text. What it does do for the reader however, is to create a feeling of the suspension of reality - a reflection of the interminable waiting that the prisoners must have felt in their turn.

The execution by hanging, the witnesses, the quiet behaviour of the killers is all described. And a final short scene is added which is pure fiction, where Alvin Dewey goes to the graves of the Clutter family and meets one of the children's close friends, now an adult. This I found quite allowable as a coda. It ties up the ends nicely, and I am not sure how else Capote could have done this, without inserting his views in a summing-up, which clearly he did not want to do.

This novel is not only ground-breaking but superbly crafted; a pretty near perfect novel. The continual switch between present and past tenses only serves to give a more immediate feel; an edge to the narration. My star rating? Well, I cannot say, I "like it", (3 or 4 stars) but I can say, "It was amazing!" Five stars.
Profile Image for Jason.
137 reviews2,270 followers
December 12, 2013
It is clear from reading In Cold Blood that not only is Philip Seymour Hoffman an excellent writer, but he is also an in-depth researcher. Every line in this book is painstakingly detailed and therein, as they say, is the devil. Well, the devil had me hooked from start to finish.

Beginning with a day-in-the-life of the Clutter family shortly before four of its members were slain, Mr. Hoffman presents the real-life tale of the murders (as well as its aftermath) in a somewhat nonlinear fashion, skipping past the killings themselves to account for the daily activities and whereabouts of their perpetrators—Dick Hickock and Perry Smith—until finally revealing, once Hickock and Smith are caught, the goings-on at the Clutter family home on the night of the murders. All of this, I think, adds to the intensity of the storytelling and maintains the suspense necessary to move the narrative along.

clutter home
The Clutter family home in Holcomb, KS, site of the November 15, 1959 murders.

Though the writing is technically perfect, and someone (like Trudi) might come onto this review and yell at me for having attributed to it an incorrect number of stars, it is difficult for me to award that fifth star in cases where the book fails to rock my world, emotionally speaking. In other words, a book has to have its way with me—it needs to seduce me and whisper into my ear, and even making breakfast for me in the morning wouldn’t hurt. But these are just explanatory ramblings, and they are mostly unnecessary. Because this really is one helluva book.

In doing some research of my own I have discovered that Mr. Hoffman was not alone in his procurement of the details for this book. His good friend Catherine Keener, author of To Kill a Mockingbird, accompanied him to the small town of Holcomb, Kansas, where the murders took place. He did this, presumably, to maximize the information-garnering potential for his manuscript. But oddly enough, Keener is not credited anywhere in the novel as having made any contribution to it whatsoever.

Come to think of it, though, neither is Philip Seymour Hoffman.
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