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.
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
This book is part of the David Bowie Reading Challenge #DBowieBooks
7. In Cold Blood