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In Cold Blood discussion > In Cold Blood Discussion

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message 1: by Jenn (new)

Jenn | 223 comments Mod
Michelle's selection for June is In Cold Blood by Truman Capote. Please post your discussions here.


message 2: by Kimba (new)

Kimba Tichenor (goodreadscomallie_tichenor) I just joined this group and look forward to hearing what others have to say about this book. I listened to the audio version of Truman Capote's "In Cold Blood" several years ago and found it fascinating and disturbing. Capote once commented on the experience of writing the book: "It scraped me right down to the marrow of my bones. It nearly killed me. I think, in a way, it did kill me." And this relationship between the author and the subject seems to me at the heart of book: what is gained and lost by each through their communication.


message 3: by Michelle (new)

Michelle (artemitch) | 96 comments Kimba wrote: "I just joined this group and look forward to hearing what others have to say about this book. I listened to the audio version of Truman Capote's "In Cold Blood" several years ago and found it fasci..."

Welcome! I look forward to reading it. It's actually my first true-crime book. I'm not too familiar withe case or the genre, so it'll be an interesting read for me.

Thanks for the quote. I'd imagine the book was quite difficult for him to write.


message 4: by Wendopolis (new)

Wendopolis | 77 comments I read this a very long time ago, but don’t remember much. I’m especially interested because my grandfather was a prison guard during that time at the prison where Those criminals were executed. He said that one of them was friendly/ok (for a murderer) but the other was really cold. I remember he was offended that the makers of the movie didn’t ask people who’d actually been there, like the guards. Because really, who would have more first hand info? The warden or the guards who interacted daily? I wish Id talked to my grandfather about this and written down what he said.


message 5: by Cassie (new)

Cassie | 3 comments Hi guys,

I just joined this group. I read this book early last year and it was such an intense read.

That's very interesting Wendolis, wow...your grandad is absolutely right through, would've been great input from him and the other guards if they actually took time to ask them for their first hand info.


message 6: by Michelle (new)

Michelle (artemitch) | 96 comments Wendopolis wrote: "I read this a very long time ago, but don’t remember much. I’m especially interested because my grandfather was a prison guard during that time at the prison where Those criminals were executed. He..."

Wow. That's crazy... If you can spare the details, I'd love to hear more.

Cassie wrote: "Hi guys,

I just joined this group. I read this book early last year and it was such an intense read.

That's very interesting Wendolis, wow...your grandad is absolutely right through, would've be..."


Hi buddy! Welcome! So glad to have you here (:


message 7: by Wendopolis (new)

Wendopolis | 77 comments I asked my mom if she remembers her dad saying anything, just that he thought they were not penitent and but evil. He watched them hang.


message 8: by Michelle (new)

Michelle (artemitch) | 96 comments Wendopolis wrote: "I asked my mom if she remembers her dad saying anything, just that he thought they were not penitent and but evil. He watched them hang."

Whoa.


message 9: by Jenn (new)

Jenn | 223 comments Mod
Kimba and Cassie, hi and welcome. Glad to have you in the group.

Wendy--Whoa. That's fascinating.


message 10: by Cassie (new)

Cassie | 3 comments Thanks guys :)

Wendy, that's intense!


message 11: by Miguel (new)

Miguel (miggy126) | 74 comments Wendopolis wrote: "I asked my mom if she remembers her dad saying anything, just that he thought they were not penitent and but evil. He watched them hang."

Man that must've been hard to watch. I understand the people are evil but I've read that a hanging is pretty rough.

Welcome to the coolest book club on goodreads Kimba and Cassie! :)


message 12: by Cassie (new)

Cassie | 3 comments Miguel wrote: "Wendopolis wrote: "I asked my mom if she remembers her dad saying anything, just that he thought they were not penitent and but evil. He watched them hang."

Man that must've been hard to watch. I ..."


Thanks for the warm welcome Miguel :)


message 13: by Michelle (new)

Michelle (artemitch) | 96 comments I'm a little more than halfway through this and I'm really surprised at how detailed it is. I love the multiple perspectives. I'm going to have to look up the accuracy of this whole thing later...


message 14: by Michelle (new)

Michelle (artemitch) | 96 comments Wendopolis wrote: "I read this a very long time ago, but don’t remember much. I’m especially interested because my grandfather was a prison guard during that time at the prison where Those criminals were executed. He..."

On page 292....
I'm guessing the "friendly/ok" guy (for a murderer) was Perry. He seemed to have more sympathy for others than Dick... but then he also doesn't hesitate to kill and it doesn't bother him the Clutters died because he didn't know them. I'm kind of baffled by this guy. Goes back to that whole nature & nurture thing (I know I've brought this up before on previous discussions). Nothing excuses what they did, but if Perry had a better upbringing, would he have turned out to be less violent? Dick is absolutely abhorrent, though. You know, it DID cross my mind that one or both of them would either try to rape or rape Nancy. I guess I'm glad that Perry can't tolerate that type of behavior? Not that it matters too much. Dead is dead.

Out of curiosity, I Googled what Dick and Perry looked like. Can't say I wasn't surprised -- for some reason, I kept picturing them as nearing middle-age, but their photos suggest late 20s/early 30s. I must have missed (or forgot about) that part in the introduction. Correction: aged 33 & 36 at their hanging, respectively.


message 15: by Jenn (new)

Jenn | 223 comments Mod
I tried reading this book way back in high school but couldn't get into it. I'm only a few chapters in this time around, but I'm enjoying it. Maybe "enjoying" isn't the right word. I'm intrigued by it.

Like you, Michelle, I googled Perry and Richard to see what they looked like. I wound up on Perry's Wikipedia page. Dude, Capote became friends with Perry during their interviews, and, it's rumored, maybe they were more than friends. Does this book go into that? Even if it doesn't, it makes Capote's telling of the story more interesting.


message 16: by Michelle (new)

Michelle (artemitch) | 96 comments Jenn wrote: "I tried reading this book way back in high school but couldn't get into it. I'm only a few chapters in this time around, but I'm enjoying it. Maybe "enjoying" isn't the right word. I'm intrigued by..."

What? Really? I have to go onto their Wikipedia pages now. The book doesn't go into that and has more of an objective tone rather than a subjective one (for the most part), but Capote does seem to make assumptions about people's predilections.


message 17: by Michelle (last edited Jun 23, 2018 09:42PM) (new)

Michelle (artemitch) | 96 comments By the way, I have now finished reading it and I really enjoyed it. It's my first true-crime book, though I realize Capote fictionalizes some dialogue and alters details. I Googled the inaccuracies, and what's presented in the books doesn't seem to veer too much from what actually happened, although a few things are made up and some people are misquoted. Found out he and Harper Lee went around taking thousands of pages of notes -- around 6,000, to be exact. Crazy.
* edit: I meant 8,000.

Anyway, the alternating perspectives were interesting. Thankfully, Capote didn't try to absolve them of blame or anything by justifying what they did too much, just presented their psychology to us. I think my favorite of the novel was near the end, when the psychiatrists made their observations of the two criminals. Their explanations of their behavior made a lot of sense, though they in no way erase the malignity of their actions.

The other people in the Death Row also terrify me, especially that Lee Andrews kid. I don't understand how some people have no moral compass at all. His case makes me think that what he did was guided almost entirely by his nature because nothing in his life suggests he was treated too unfairly or given terrible guidance. The pair that went around killing other people are also twisted.

I still don't actually know who killed who. Did Perry killed all four of the Clutters or only two of them? He seemed pretty insistent about killing only two, but then he changed his confession to all four to spare Dick's mother's feelings... I don't know, was that really his reasoning?


message 18: by Michelle (new)

Michelle (artemitch) | 96 comments Okay, I kind of learned that this book isn't completely objective -- Capote may have been biased toward Smith. I guess their friendship did affect the way Capote composed the novel, or at least in the way he wrote Smith. That's a bummer :/. I was hoping for a completely objective point of view. Apparently the film CAPOTE kind of explores their relationship and Capote's process as he researched for and wrote the book.

On a different but kind of related note, I started looking up the differences between a sociopath and psychopath because I wasn't completely sure. Apparently psychopaths aren't as rare as I thought... they're ~1% of the population, with a higher prevalence in males than females (a ratio of ~20:1). It depends on how you conduct your analysis, too, so.... Honestly, I was pretty uninformed of what constitutes a psychopath... totally just had a stereotype in my head.


message 19: by Miguel (new)

Miguel (miggy126) | 74 comments I finished reading this book last week, but I haven’t had time to post in the discussion. However, now that I have time I am glad that the killers in this book met the gallows and that includes Lee Edwards and the two boys whose names I have forgotten.

What bothered me the most was how unnecessary the murder of this family was. I understand the motive behind the robbing but once you found out there was no money why not just leave? Why kill this family? Regardless, your actions in that home were going to bring attention. Maybe if they had just left, the cops wouldn’t have come down on them so hard especially over $40. Even so, they did a pretty good job of evading the police and staying out of sight.

As they were on the road I really like how the book was able to describe the personality of both. It seems to have favored more in Perry’s side and I believe it was rightfully so as he did the killings. Perry now that I think about it came off as a very insecure guy. He seemed to have more values then Dick but was the true killer in this book which was surprising. As I thought Dick to be more reckless, but I guess that was all just a front as Perry pointed out.

I really liked the timeline of this book. It seemed to flow very well. At some point I did feel like it dragged a bit, but I believe that was because I was anxious to know what happened next. I’ve read up and listened to a lot of stories of true crime in small towns, but the Clutter Family was new to me. This was one of my favorite stories and part of it was because of how well it was told.


message 20: by Miguel (new)

Miguel (miggy126) | 74 comments Michelle wrote: "I still don't actually know who killed who. Did Perry killed all four of the Clutters or only two of them? He seemed pretty insistent about killing only two, but then he changed his confession to all four to spare Dick's mother's feelings... I don't know, was that really his reasoning?."

I thought Perry killed all of them. My initial thought process was he told them he only did 2 in hopes of possibly not getting hanged but then realized he was getting hanged regardless and possibly hoped to save Dick? Not too sure as he's kind of weird. I don't believe that story of Perry thinking Dick's mom was a nice lady and wanted to spare her. Seems like BS. Also, it might be the reason why Dick was trying really hard to appeal while he was on death row and Perry was more accepting of it.


message 21: by Miguel (new)

Miguel (miggy126) | 74 comments Michelle wrote: You know, it DID cross my mind that one or both of them would either try to rape or rape Nancy. I guess I'm glad that Perry can't tolerate that type of behavior? Not that it matters too much. Dead is dead."

I was thinking the same thing. Author telling us how she was a popular person in school and very pretty. I was expecting them to try and do something to her. Only good thing about Perry was that he stopped that from happening but like you said "dead is dead". Man this poor family.


message 22: by Michelle (last edited Jun 26, 2018 03:55PM) (new)

Michelle (artemitch) | 96 comments Miguel wrote: "I thought Perry killed all of them. My initial thought process was he told them he only did 2 in hopes of possibly not getting hanged but then realized he was getting hanged regardless and possibly hoped to save Dick? Not too sure as he's kind of weird. I don't believe that story of Perry thinking Dick's mom was a nice lady and wanted to spare her. Seems like BS. Also, it might be the reason why Dick was trying really hard to appeal while he was on death row and Perry was more accepting of it."

The more I think about it, the more I feel like maybe Perry did commit all four murders. It's just that his "confession" to Dewey sounded really convincing -- well, to me, at least. Looking back at the book now, I think there were more sections centered around Perry than did Dick. It seems like when we are viewing from the criminals' side, we are taking Perry's POV, so to speak, more than we are taking Dick's. I don't know. I definitely think that Perry, even though he seemed more primed to commit extreme violence, given what we know about the Clutter murders, appeared more sensitive toward others, ironically.

Ditto on the part about these murders being unnecessary. I'm guessing they thought they would have been caught if the Clutters lived to tell. I'm wondering if it had been either one who attempted to rob the house, and not both, whether the family would have ended up dead. I mean, I was thinking that what if the presence of having a partner necessitates that you'd live up to the bargain of "no witnesses left alive" so you don't back out and appear weak? It was like Perry slit the Mr. Clutter's throat to prove to Dick that he could and would (emphasis on would) do it. Don't get me wrong, though -- I think they'd still kill if necessary, alone or with company. Just -- the thought that they didn't need to must have run across their minds. Once Perry was in that "dark, schizophrenic state" (or however the psychiatrist worded it), he couldn't stop. Wasn't he the one who didn't really want to kill them in the first place?

Despite all their criminal activity, I saw the humane side of them, which is kind of scary. I don't want to sympathize with them (mainly talking about Perry here), but it's hard to ignore the factors that made him so.

I came across an interesting TedTalk (yeah, this book kind of sent me on a curiosity rampage) called "Lessons from death row inmates | David R. Dow" which talks about how 80% of death row inmates' crimes can be prevented through early intervention in a distraught individual's life: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HYzrd...


message 23: by Jenn (new)

Jenn | 223 comments Mod
Michelle - re: "psychopath" vs. "sociopath"
As I understand it, experts from different fields have conflicting definitions for these words. I'm probably getting this mixed up (it's late and I'm tired), but I believe what psychologists refer to as "sociopaths" criminal investigators refer to as "psychopaths," and then too the definitions have changed over time. And then there's TV. Sherlock, in the new-ish show, refers to himself as a sociopath. I'm pretty sure he just has Asperger's, though. I like the definitions you found, and I'm going to go with those.

This book is great. I don't know why I didn't read it sooner.

One part that struck me was when Perry's reading the article about a family that got tied up and shot to death, and his reaction is this:

"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."

It's just... relatable? I guess? Please tell me you can relate to that being relatable, because I'm having a hard time describing why it is. It's like when I'm hearing about something someone else did, and for a second I get all judgmental, and then I realize, "Oh, wait. I do that too sometimes." It's just interesting to see that on a I-murdered-people-and-now-[I-believe]-I'm-hearing-about-someone-else-murdering-people level.

Oh, god. I've hit brackets within fully hyphenated sentences level writing. I'm going to bed. Good night.


message 24: by Julie (new)

Julie Place | 87 comments I think most everything has been brought up especially the fact of how unnecessary the murders were! That is what stuck with me for this whole book. Neither men had any remorse for what they did but somehow felt that they weren’t given a fair trial? I’m just glad justice was served because I have a feeling had they been let go or even paroled later that they would definitely had been repeat offenders.


On another note this was my first crime novel I think I might have found a new genre to get into!


message 25: by Michelle (new)

Michelle (artemitch) | 96 comments Jenn wrote: "Michelle - re: "psychopath" vs. "sociopath"
As I understand it, experts from different fields have conflicting definitions for these words. I'm probably getting this mixed up (it's late and I'm tir..."


I shouldn't have gone with the TV definitions of 'sociopathy' and 'psychopathy' before I looked into this. I thought all psychopaths were violent in some way, but nah (I mean, just some). Just lack empathy, are super charming, and will do whatever they can to get what they want. Apparently the percentage of psychopaths is higher among CEOs, politicians, and financiers -- about 4%, which kinda makes sense since any one of them is always in the news about their lack of regard for others (fraud, ignoring regulations, etc.).

I'm not sure if I quite understand that part being relatable (I read it as: Perry wouldn't be surprised if the people behind the other murders read about what he and Dick did and decided to make their own plans for their own gains -- but maybe that's what you meant). I understand what you mean about getting judgmental, though. I've noticed other people do this as well -- complain about something someone else did but don't realize that they do the same.


message 26: by Michelle (new)

Michelle (artemitch) | 96 comments Julie wrote: "On another note this was my first crime novel I think I might have found a new genre to get into!"

I think I have also found a new genre to get into!


message 27: by Miguel (new)

Miguel (miggy126) | 74 comments I also really like this genre. I recently started getting into true crime with a podcast called small town murder. Title is pretty self explanatory but it is based on real events. Ever since then i have been following up on the murders that take place to see their faces.

If anyone has any recommendations on books similar to this one please let me know :)


message 28: by Jenn (new)

Jenn | 223 comments Mod
Columbine by Dave Cullen is pretty amazing.


message 29: by Wendopolis (new)

Wendopolis | 77 comments I second that, Jen


message 30: by Michelle (new)

Michelle (artemitch) | 96 comments I think the only other true crime novel bigger than this one is Helter Skelter, and that one deals with the Manson murders. Pretty crazy. I plan on reading that sometime.


message 31: by Miguel (new)

Miguel (miggy126) | 74 comments Jenn wrote: "Columbine by Dave Cullen is pretty amazing."

Thanks Jenn! I'll definitely check it out soon.

I think the only other true crime novel bigger than this one is Helter Skelter, and that one deals with the Manson murders. Pretty crazy. I plan on reading that sometime.

I'll check this one out as well. All these books to read and very little time.


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