In Cold Blood by Truman Capote



Controversial and compelling, In Cold Blood reconstructs the murder in 1959 of a Kansas farmer, his wife and both their children. Truman Capote’s comprehensive study of the killings and subsequent investigation explores the circumstances surrounding this terrible crime and the effect it had on those involved. At the centre of his study are the amoral young killers Perry Smith and Dick Hickcock, who, vividly drawn by Capote, are shown to be reprehensible yet entirely and frighteningly human. The book that made Capote’s name, In Cold Blood is a seminal work of modern prose, a remarkable synthesis of journalistic skill and powerfully evocative narrative.

My Thoughts

In Cold Blood is widely regarded as Truman Capote’s best and most influential novels. It tells the true story of the murder of the Clutter family in 1959. The Clutters were a well-respected family of four in the tiny farming town of Holcomb, Kansas – Herb, Bonnie, Nancy, and Kenyon. They were brutally murdered by two petty criminals who were on the hunt for a non-existent safe full of cash but actually made off with about $50 and a radio.

Capote was a journalist at the time and, with his childhood friend Harper Lee, traveled to Holcomb to cover the story of one of the most gruesome of senseless murders of the time. Capote spent five years in Holcomb, mixing a blend of fact gleaned from interviewing the protagonists and fiction to write In Cold Blood.

I’m glad I gave myself the opportunity to read In Cold Blood properly. I have studied parts of this novel in several of my writing units at uni and I regret reading it in bits and pieces first. I wish I’d done it the other way round because I did find it difficult when I came to sections I had read previously. And it was impossible not to think of all the academic kind of stuff I had covered previously.

I am glad I studied this novel, though, because there are so many interesting things about it and the way it was written. In Cold Blood was a completely new style of writing at the time. Crime and mystery fiction have always been popular genres, but In Cold Blood isn’t fiction. And many parts aren’t quite factual either. Capote called this sensational new style of writing New Journalism and this development has been incredibly influential in the crime and mystery genres (and many would argue in journalism!) ever since.

Now I feel better by covering some of the academic reasons for why  In Cold Blood is a modern classic I will finish by recommending this novel to all the true crime fans out there. Capote’s blend of fact and fiction is a masterpiece and the only thing I regret is not reading it earlier.

And finally, here is a rather cute pic of my crazy Zeus checking out my copy!



Title: In Cold Blood

Author: Truman Capote

ISBN: 0141182571 (ISBN13: 9780141182575)

Published: February 3rd 2000 by Penguin (first published 1965)

Genre: Classics, Modern Classics, True Crime

Source: Own Copy

My Rating: 5/5 Stars


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This book is part of the David Bowie Reading Challenge #DBowieBooks

1. 1984

2. The Great Gatsby

3. The Gnostic Gospels

4. A Clockwork Orange

5. Lady Chatterley’s Lover

6. The Art of War

7. In Cold Blood

11 thoughts on “In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

  1. Loved this – I read it for A Level (in my 30s!), and read it again since. I found the difference between the psychotic and the psychopathic so fascinating – what a ‘waaaah’ moment it was, to discover that it was actually Perry who’d committed the murders. You’ve made me want to read it again!

    I read a bit in a Bill Bryson book about him visiting the town where it happened; he found that no one wanted to talk about it….

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, I’m still conflicted about whether Perry committed all of the murders or not!! It seems like something Perry would do to feel sorry for Dick’s mother and spare her the thought of him being a murderer and it definitely seems like Dick wouldn’t mind allowing Perry to take all the blame!! This is definitely one of the parts of the book where I can’t quite decide what is fact or fiction! I found a fairly recent article that I think you might enjoy, although it’s a bit of a long 1 so save it for if you have time! xx


  2. Interesting, I’m glad you carried on with the David Bowie reading challenge. I gave up – life got in the way – but intend to do it sometime. This one certainly seems worth reading!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Katrina. I’m still going, fairly slowly though!! This is definitely one to put on your TBR list sometime and the great thing about the list is all these books will be there when we are ready to read them!!


  3. Fab review! In Cold Blood is an incredible book, isn’t it? I first read it when I was in my teens, and then have read it a couple of times since then and I always see more in it than the time before. I think it’s one of those books I’ll always go back to. It fascinates me how obsessed Capote got with the two men and how the book is a fictionalised account of a real crime.


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