In Cold Blood: A True Account of a Multiple Murder and Its Consequences

In Cold Blood: A True Account of a Multiple Murder and Its Consequences

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by Truman Capote

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National Bestseller 

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

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National Bestseller 

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.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In the wake of the award-winning film Capote, interest in the author's 1965 true crime masterpiece has spiked. Capote's spellbinding narrative plumbs the psychological and emotional depths of a senseless quadruple murder in America's heartland. In the audio version, narrator Brick keeps up with the master storyteller every step of the way. In fact, Brick's surefooted performance is nothing short of stunning. He settles comfortably into every character on this huge stage-male and female, lawman and murderer, teen and spinster-and moves fluidly between them, generating the feel of a full-cast production. He assigns varying degrees of drawl to the citizens of Finney County, Kans., where the crimes take place, and supplements with an arsenal of tension-building cadences, hard and soft tones, regional and foreign accents, and subtle inflections, even embedding a quiver of grief in the voice of one character. This facile audio actor delivers an award-worthy performance, well-suited for a tale of such power that moves not only around the country but around the territory of the human psyche and heart. Available as a Vintage paperback. (Mar.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Conrad Knickerbocker
There are two Truman Capotes. One is the artful charmer, prone to the gossamer and the exquisite, of the The Grass Harp and Holly Golightly. The other, darker and stronger, is the discoverer of death. He has traveled far from the misty, moss-hung, Southern-Gothic landscapes of youth. He now broods with the austerity of a Greek or an Elizabethan.
— Books of the Century; New York Times review, January 1966
From the Publisher
"A masterpiece . . . a spellbinding work." —Life

"A remarkable, tensely exciting, superbly written 'true account.' " —The New York Times

"The best documentary account of an American crime ever written. . . . The book chills the blood and exercises the intelligence . . . harrowing." —The New York Review of Books

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Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
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Vintage International
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Random House
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The Last to See Them Alive

THE village of Holcomb stands on the high wheat plains of western Kansas, a lonesome area that other Kansans call "out there." Some seventy miles east of the Colorado border, the countryside, with its hard blue skies and desert-clear air, has an atmosphere that is rather more Far West than Middle West. The local accent is barbed with a prairie twang, a ranch-hand nasalness, and the men, many of them, wear narrow frontier trousers, Stetsons, and high-heeled boots with pointed toes. The land is flat, and the views are awesomely extensive; horses, herds of cattle, a white cluster of grain elevators rising as gracefully as Greek temples are visible long before a traveler reaches them.

Holcomb, too, can be seen from great distances. Not that there is much to see--simply an aimless congregation of buildings divided in the center by the main-line tracks of the Santa Fe Railroad, a haphazard hamlet bounded on the south by a brown stretch of the Arkansas (pronounced "Ar-kan-sas") River, on the north by a highway, Route 50, and on the east and west by prairie lands and wheat fields. After rain, or when snowfalls thaw, the streets, unnamed, unshaded, unpaved, turn from the thickest dust into the direst mud. At one end of the town stands a stark old stucco structure, the roof of which supports an electric sign--DANCE--but the dancing has ceased and the advertisement has been dark for several years. Nearby is another building with an irrelevant sign, this one in flaking gold on a dirty window--HOLCOMB BANK. The bank closed in 1933, and its former counting rooms have been converted into apartments. It is one of the town's two "apartment houses," the second being a ramshackle mansion known, because a good part of the local school's faculty lives there, as the Teacherage. But the majority of Holcomb's homes are one-story frame affairs, with front porches.

Down by the depot, the postmistress, a gaunt woman who wears a rawhide jacket and denims and cowboy boots, presides over a falling-apart post office. The depot itself, with its peeling sulphur-colored paint, is equally melancholy; the Chief, the Super-Chief, the El Capitan go by every day, but these celebrated expresses never pause there. No passenger trains do--only an occasional freight. Up on the highway, there are two filling stations, one of which doubles as a meagerly supplied grocery store, while the other does extra duty as a café--Hartman's Café, where Mrs. Hartman, the proprietress, dispenses sandwiches, coffee, soft drinks, and 3.2 beer. (Holcomb, like all the rest of Kansas, is "dry.")

And that, really, is all. Unless you include, as one must, the Holcomb School, a good-looking establishment, which reveals a circumstance that the appearance of the community otherwise camouflages: that the parents who send their children to this modern and ably staffed "consolidated" school--the grades go from kindergarten through senior high, and a fleet of buses transport the students, of which there are usually around three hundred and sixty, from as far as sixteen miles away--are, in general, a prosperous people. Farm ranchers, most of them, they are outdoor folk of very varied stock--German, Irish, Norwegian, Mexican, Japanese. They raise cattle and sheep, grow wheat, milo, grass seed, and sugar beets. Farming is always a chancy business, but in western Kansas its practitioners consider themselves "born gamblers," for they must contend with an extremely shallow precipitation (the annual average is eighteen inches) and anguishing irrigation problems. However, the last seven years have been years of droughtless beneficence. The farm ranchers in Finney County, of which Holcomb is a part, have done well; money has been made not from farming alone but also from the exploitation of plentiful natural-gas resources, and its acquisition is reflected in the new school, the comfortable interiors of the farmhouses, the steep and swollen grain elevators.

Until one morning in mid-November of 1959, few Americans--in fact, few Kansans--had ever heard of Holcomb. Like the waters of the river, like the motorists on the highway, and like the yellow trains streaking down the Santa Fe tracks, drama, in the shape of exceptional happenings, had never stopped there. The inhabitants of the village, numbering two hundred and seventy, were satisfied that this should be so, quite content to exist inside ordinary life--to work, to hunt, to watch television, to attend school socials, choir practice, meetings of the 4-H Club. But then, in the earliest hours of that morning in November, a Sunday morning, certain foreign sounds impinged on the normal nightly Holcomb noises--on the keening hysteria of coyotes, the dry scrape of scuttling tumbleweed, the racing, receding wail of locomotive whistles. At the time not a soul in sleeping Holcomb heard them--four shotgun blasts that, all told, ended six human lives. But afterward the townspeople, theretofore sufficiently unfearful of each other to seldom trouble to lock their doors, found fantasy re-creating them over and again--those somber explosions that stimulated fires of mistrust in the glare of which many old neighbors viewed each other strangely, and as strangers.

THE master of River Valley Farm, Herbert William Clutter, was forty-eight years old, and as a result of a recent medical examination for an insurance policy, knew himself to be in first-rate condition. Though he wore rimless glasses and was of but average height, standing just under five feet ten, Mr. Clutter cut a man's-man figure. His shoulders were broad, his hair had held its dark color, his square-jawed, confident face retained a healthy-hued youthfulness, and his teeth, unstained and strong enough to shatter walnuts, were still intact. He weighed a hundred and fifty-four--the same as he had the day he graduated from Kansas State University, where he had majored in agriculture. He was not as rich as the richest man in Holcomb--Mr. Taylor Jones, a neighboring rancher. He was, however, the community's most widely known citizen, prominent both there and in Garden City, the close-by county seat, where he had headed the building committee for the newly completed First Methodist Church, an eight-hundred-thousand-dollar edifice. He was currently chairman of the Kansas Conference of Farm Organizations, and his name was everywhere respectfully recognized among Midwestern agriculturists, as it was in certain Washington offices, where he had been a member of the Federal Farm Credit Board during the Eisenhower administration.

Always certain of what he wanted from the world, Mr. Clutter had in large measure obtained it. On his left hand, on what remained of a finger once mangled by a piece of farm machinery, he wore a plain gold band, which was the symbol, a quarter-century old, of his marriage to the person he had wished to marry--the sister of a college classmate, a timid, pious, delicate girl named Bonnie Fox, who was three years younger than he. She had given him four children--a trio of daughters, then a son. The eldest daughter, Eveanna, married and the mother of a boy ten months old, lived in northern Illinois but visited Holcomb frequently. Indeed, she and her family were expected within the fortnight, for her parents planned a sizable Thanksgiving reunion of the Clutter clan (which had its beginnings in Germany; the first immigrant Clutter--or Klotter, as the name was then spelled--arrived here in 1880); fifty-odd kinfolk had been asked, several of whom would be traveling from places as far away as Palatka, Florida. Nor did Beverly, the child next in age to Eveanna, any longer reside at River Valley Farm; she was in Kansas City, Kansas, studying to be a nurse. Beverly was engaged to a young biology student, of whom her father very much approved; invitations to the wedding, scheduled for Christmas Week, were already printed. Which left, still living at home, the boy, Kenyon, who at fifteen was taller than Mr. Clutter, and one sister, a year older--the town darling, Nancy.

In regard to his family, Mr. Clutter had just one serious cause for disquiet--his wife's health. She was "nervous," she suffered "little spells"--such were the sheltering expressions used by those close to her. Not that the truth concerning "poor Bonnie's afflictions" was in the least a secret; everyone knew she had been an on-and-off psychiatric patient the last half-dozen years. Yet even upon this shadowed terrain sunlight had very lately sparkled. The past Wednesday, returning from two weeks of treatment at the Wesley Medical Center in Wichita, her customary place of retirement, Mrs. Clutter had brought scarcely credible tidings to tell her husband; with joy she informed him that the source of her misery, so medical opinion had at last decreed, was not in her head but in her spine--it was physical, a matter of misplaced vertebrae. Of course, she must undergo an operation, and afterward--well, she would be her "old self" again. Was it possible--the tension, the withdrawals, the pillow-muted sobbing behind locked doors, all due to an out-of-order backbone? If so, then Mr. Clutter could, when addressing his Thanksgiving table, recite a blessing of unmarred gratitude.

Ordinarily, Mr. Clutter's mornings began at six-thirty; clanging milk pails and the whispery chatter of the boys who brought them, two sons of a hired man named Vic Irsik, usually roused him. But today he lingered, let Vic Irsik's sons come and leave, for the previous evening, a Friday the thirteenth, had been a tiring one, though in part exhilarating. Bonnie had resurrected her "old self"; as if serving up a preview of the normality, the regained vigor, soon to be, she had rouged her lips, fussed with her hair, and, wearing a new dress, accompanied him to the Holcomb School, where they applauded a student production of Tom Sawyer, in which Nancy played Becky Thatcher. He had enjoyed it, seeing Bonnie out in public, nervous but nonetheless smiling, talking to people, and they both had been proud of Nancy; she had done so well, remembering all her lines, and looking, as he had said to her in the course of backstage congratulations, "Just beautiful, honey--a real Southern belle." Whereupon Nancy had behaved like one; curtsying in her hoop-skirted costume, she had asked if she might drive into Garden City. The State Theatre was having a special, eleven-thirty, Friday-the-thirteenth "Spook Show," and all her friends were going. In other circumstances Mr. Clutter would have refused. His laws were laws, and one of them was: Nancy--and Kenyon, too--must be home by ten on week nights, by twelve on Saturdays. But weakened by the genial events of the evening, he had consented. And Nancy had not returned home until almost two. He had heard her come in, and had called to her, for though he was not a man ever really to raise his voice, he had some plain things to say to her, statements that concerned less the lateness of the hour than the youngster who had driven her home--a school basketball hero, Bobby Rupp.

Mr. Clutter liked Bobby, and considered him, for a boy his age, which was seventeen, most dependable and gentlemanly; however, in the three years she had been permitted "dates," Nancy, popular and pretty as she was, had never gone out with anyone else, and while Mr. Clutter understood that it was the present national adolescent custom to form couples, to "go steady" and wear "engagement rings," he disapproved, particularly since he had not long ago, by accident, surprised his daughter and the Rupp boy kissing. He had then suggested that Nancy discontinue "seeing so much of Bobby," advising her that a slow retreat now would hurt less than an abrupt severance later--for, as he reminded her, it was a parting that must eventually take place. The Rupp family were Roman Catholics, the Clutters, Methodist--a fact that should in itself be sufficient to terminate whatever fancies she and this boy might have of some day marrying. Nancy had been reasonable--at any rate, she had not argued--and now, before saying good night, Mr. Clutter secured from her a promise to begin a gradual breaking off with Bobby.

Still, the incident had lamentably put off his retiring time, which was ordinarily eleven o'clock. As a consequence, it was well after seven when he awakened on Saturday, November 14, 1959. His wife always slept as late as possible. However, while Mr. Clutter was shaving, showering, and outfitting himself in whipcord trousers, a cattleman's leather jacket, and soft stirrup boots, he had no fear of disturbing her; they did not share the same bedroom. For several years he had slept alone in the master bedroom, on the ground floor of the house--a two-story, fourteen-room frame-and-brick structure. Though Mrs. Clutter stored her clothes in the closets of this room, and kept her few cosmetics and her myriad medicines in the blue-tile-and-glass-brick bathroom adjoining it, she had taken for serious occupancy Eveanna's former bedroom, which, like Nancy's and Kenyon's rooms, was on the second floor.

The house--for the most part designed by Mr. Clutter, who thereby proved himself a sensible and sedate, if not notably decorative, architect--had been built in 1948 for forty thousand dollars. (The resale value was now sixty thousand dollars.) Situated at the end of a long, lanelike driveway shaded by rows of Chinese elms, the handsome white house, standing on an ample lawn of groomed Bermuda grass, impressed Holcomb; it was a place people pointed out. As for the interior, there were spongy displays of liver-colored carpet intermittently abolishing the glare of varnished, resounding floors; an immense modernistic living-room couch covered in nubby fabric interwoven with glittery strands of silver metal; a breakfast alcove featuring a banquette upholstered in blue-and-white plastic. This sort of furnishing was what Mr. and Mrs. Clutter liked, as did the majority of their acquaintances, whose homes, by and large, were similarly furnished.

Other than a housekeeper who came in on weekdays, the Clutters employed no household help, so since his wife's illness and the departure of the elder daughters, Mr. Clutter had of necessity learned to cook; either he or Nancy, but principally Nancy, prepared the family meals. Mr. Clutter enjoyed the chore, and was excellent at it--no woman in Kansas baked a better loaf of salt-rising bread, and his celebrated coconut cookies were the first item to go at charity cake sales--but he was not a hearty eater; unlike his fellow-ranchers, he even preferred Spartan breakfasts. That morning an apple and a glass of milk were enough for him; because he touched neither coffee or tea, he was accustomed to begin the day on a cold stomach. The truth was he opposed all stimulants, however gentle. He did not smoke, and of course he did not drink; indeed, he had never tasted spirits, and was inclined to avoid people who had--a circumstance that did not shrink his social circle as much as might be supposed, for the center of that circle was supplied by the members of Garden City's First Methodist Church, a congregation totaling seventeen hundred, most of whom were as abstemious as Mr. Clutter could desire. While he was careful to avoid making a nuisance of his views, to adopt outside his realm an externally uncensoring manner, he enforced them within his family and among the employees at River Valley Farm. "Are you a drinking man?" was the first question he asked a job applicant, and even though the fellow gave a negative answer, he still must sign a work contract containing a clause that declared the agreement instantly void if the employee should be discovered "harboring alcohol." A friend--an old pioneer rancher, Mr. Lynn Russell--had once told him, "You've got no mercy. I swear, Herb, if you caught a hired man drinking, out he'd go. And you wouldn't care if his family was starving." It was perhaps the only criticism ever made of Mr. Clutter as an employer. Otherwise, he was known for his equanimity, his charitableness, and the fact that he paid good wages and distributed frequent bonuses; the men who worked for him--and there were sometimes as many as eighteen--had small reason to complain.

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In Cold Blood 4.1 out of 5 based on 2 ratings. 594 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have given this title five stars because the five stars represent an 'outstanding' work. In Cold Blood is certainly that an outstanding work. However, there was little to enjoy but the style, the pure ease at which this tale stretches its legs in your imagination and makes itself at home...A little too at home. I am haunted by this, Mr. Capote's masterpiece. The sheer omniscience which Mr. Capote achieved through so many hours, days, months, years of research bring to the page the godlike perspective one expects from a well crafted work of fiction. While I have heard from some sources that this work was embellished, I am hard pressed to believe that the core tale is any way affected by fabrications. Reader beware you shall know know both slayer and slain. And, if in the end you put this down untouched, unmoved, unshaken, I hope to God that you just didn't understand it. Consider this review both a reccomendation, and a warning.
Guest More than 1 year ago
In Cold Blood is one if not the best true crime books I ever read. The way Truman Capote describes the murders. It made me feel that I was there with that poor family. It is always interesting to me everytime I read it to decide what I would do if I was with The Clutter family to try to escape from Richard Eugene Hickcok and Perry Smith's muderous rath. It is trully a chilling masterpiece. I loved every minute reading it.
Irina_28 More than 1 year ago
November 14, 1959 started out as an ordinary Saturday morning; running errands, working on the ranch and baking apple pies. The Clutters were well known in Holcomb, Kansas. Holcomb being a small town, it's inhabitants knew everything about eachother, for example how Mrs. Clutter suffered from "nervous episodes" and how Nancy and Bobby Rupp have been dating for some time now. That same day, Dick Hickock and Perry Smith were planning a "score." Sunday morning, four bodies were discovered in the Clutter's house: Herb Clutter, Bonnie Clutter, Nancy Clutter and Kenyon Clutter. All were murdered by a shotgun held a few inches from their faces. The shocking deaths became the headlines of every newspaper and magazine. Rumors started, panic rose, paranoia struck. Meanwhile, Perry and Dick escaped and were trying to fulfill their dreams in Mexico. After some failures and money problems, they returned to the states. A former inmate of Dick and Perry hears of the murders and turns them in. The hunt is on. When they both were found, they were questioned and eventually sentenced to death. This "true account" is a never ending battle between man verses man verses self. A major theme is the idea of the American Dream. Herb Clutter lived what seemed a perfect life, "He was, however, the community's most widely known citizen...he had headed the building committee for the newly completed First Methodist Church...was currently chairman of the Kansas Conference of Farm Organizations, and his name was everywhere respectfully recognized..." (Capote 6). He had power, money, a beautiful family, happines and respect. This story just puts a twist on the American Dream; it can't be fulfilled in this blood thirsty world. My favorite part of the book was getting into the criminals' heads. Just knowing the little things that made Perry who he was, made the story that more real, "On the cover of the second notebook, the handwriting of which he was so proud, a script abounding in curly, feminine flourishes, proclaimed the contents to be "The Private Diary of Perry Edward Smith"- an inaccurate description, for it was not in the least a diary but, rather, a form of anthology consisting of obscure facts, poems and literary quotations, and passages for newspapers and books paraphrased or quoted" (Capote 146). I really enjoyed reading about the thought processes of Perry. It's easy to tell that Truman Capote took an interest in Perry's life, and really analyzed him well. I also loved the amount of detail Capote put into his research and eventually, the novel; his writing sucks you in and makes you experience every bit of the situations. I don't think there was anything I didn't like about this book, whether it was, Capote's writing style or the characters in it, i loved it all. In Cold Blood first and foremost, just makes you realize how far the human mind can really take you, secondly, how no one is innocent, thirdly, sometimes the world is not just, but someone has to pay, and finally, Capote makes you realize that anything can happen in this world...
Guest More than 1 year ago
In Cold Blood is a book by Truman Capote and is widely regarded as his most famous novel. Capote had read about the Clutter murders and wanted to write an exciting nonfiction novel, so he set out on a five-year journey to write this book. In Cold Blood is also widely regarded as one of the best true crime novels that has ever been written. It details on the true story of the brutal murder of the Kansas Clutter family in 1959 at the hands of Dick Hickock and Perry Edward Smith. Capote uses and incredible amount of figurative language and advanced writing techniques to make you feel that you are inside the book. He really goes into depth on the character¿s back stories to make sure that you know everything about them some of these parts however were somewhat dull and made me wonder why they were included in the book at all. He makes some strange contrasts also that make you wonder what he is getting onto, like comparing a sweet and caring girl to that tattoos that the killers have on their arms. He also makes sure that he sheds light meticulously on everything to make sure you know what is going on, even then however the story is somewhat hard to hold onto as Capote has many storylines going on at once. Capote did succeed immensely with creating suspense in the novel. You can really tell when it¿s about to get interesting because the pace of the novel is sped up and the text gains a strange air about it. The novel begins right as Dick and Perry take a long road trip across the state to where the Clutters live, hoping to get to a hidden safe inside their house. They don¿t find the safe, but they do end up taking the lives of the whole Clutter family without a tiny bit of remorse. The book concludes at the murderer¿s execution at the hands of the Kansas police. In Cold Blood is a spiraling rollercoaster ride that has you hanging on for dear life 'or understanding' throughout the book. It is a fantastic read for somebody who is into detective novels and complicated storylines. It also shows no mercy to the squeamish and impressionable, but if you can able to handle it, then I would say that it is a must for anyone who wants a long and interesting ride.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Having never read anything by Truman Capote and after seeing the Oscar-nominated 'Capote,' I was inspired to pick up (finally) IN COLD BLOOD. I was a bit annoyed by Capote's personality in the movie and realized that I could have never stood to be in the same room with him because his self-love would have drive me crazy. I didn't let that stop me from purchasing the book, though, as I had heard good things about his writing and his 'masterpiece.' I've often been disappointed by books, but finished them to completion for the sake of not jumping to conclusions. Unfortunately, this is one book that I had to stop halfway through because, again, Capote's personality seemed to be shining through and I was getting annoyed. I know I'm going against the grain of many critics, educators, and readers alike, but I was not enjoying one bit of my reading experience. I found his writing to be the rambling of a man who couldn't keep one consistent thought going (perhaps it was the alcohol?). It was like reading a stream of consciousness that wasn't going anywhere. His thoughts jumped from past to present and back again without any cohesiveness. Halfway through the book, I was still unfamiliar with the 'characters' and much of their personalities. If it gets better in the second half of the book, I'll never know. Go ahead...give me a poor rating for my review. Just giving my opinion as a reader of many quality classic and modern books.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The brutal murder of the Clutter family was the news story of the day in November 1959. Newspapers carried the story and people discussed the details at the barber shop and over coffee at the local cafe. It was especially alarming because this was a well-known and well-liked family in the community. Who could be safe if the Clutters produced two suspects: Perry Smith and Richard Hickock.Truman Capote is captivated by the story and decides to write what he calls a 'nonfiction novel.' The book is the result of five years of research. The story had to be more than intresting than newspaper articles. It had to show the human side of the killers as well as the Clutters. The story weaves back and forth between the two making it sometimes difficult to follow. The book is excellent and worth the time to read. I highly recommend it.
Nick34 More than 1 year ago
Before reading this book I had never heard of Holcomb, KS or the Clutter family. I had never heard of Richard Hickock or Perry Smith either. But after reading this masterpiece I fell like I was right there along side all of them back when this took place. This is an awesome book and you can cleary see how it affected Capote.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I think this is a really awsome book... I was really into it. I had to read it for my Junior AP English class and I hardly ever get even half through with any of the books assigned in that class, but this time I actually did and I enjoyed it. Highly recomended, very suspensful. I read it in two days!
Guest More than 1 year ago
¿In Cold Blood¿ has been seen as one of the best nonfiction murder stories for the past forty years. Truman Capote wrote a griping tale of a Kansas farmer and his loving family who were brutally murdered on November 15th, 1959. Dick Hickock and Perry Smith were two former convicts who had recently been released on parole. Both men made then journey to Holcomb, Kansas that November evening hoping to become ten thousand dollars richer. However, when they found no safe holding the loot, Mr. Clutter and his family paid with their lives. After years of searching the men were finally apprehended in Las Vegas and put to death on April 14th, 1965. This book has you on the edge of your seat to the very last page. The way the book is laid out for the reader is what keeps it interesting. Capote moves back in forth between scenes with the Clutter family and scenes with Dick and Perry. Capote uses great description when it comes to the characters, making it so the reader can really get to know each one. His scenes are very detailed, making it easy as a reader to picture things in your mind. Overall I enjoyed ¿In Cold Blood.¿ No scenes were too graphic and the most important thing was that it kept me interested. If you are looking for a good murder story, then ¿In Cold Blood¿ is a must read.
janhig More than 1 year ago
Somehow, I just never got around to reading this, but now that I have, I understand why it made such a stir when it was first published. Despite the horror of these senseless killings. Capote has helped us understand the perpetrators as broken human beings whose lives had caused irreversible damage, including the loss of a moral compass. It's great fodder for a book club discussion. If you haven't read it yet, I highly recommend it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Having recently watched the excellent movie Capote about the writing of In Cold Blood, I decided to read the book, and I am glad I did. Capote's book defined the true crime genre with excellent writing, meticulous research, and an even-handed approach toward the perpetrators of a senseless, violent crime that shocked rural Kansas. Although Capote identified strongly with (and may have been somewhat attracted to) Perry Smith who actually killed the Clutter family, I was not sympathetic to Smith or his partner Dick Hickock in the least. The detail in the setting that Capote provides often drags the narrative down a bit, but it pays off by giving you the feeling that you are witnessing the events unfold first-hand. Patience is rewarded for those who appreciate excellent writing.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was by far one of the best books I have ever read.The way Truman Capote explains and meshes in each character in the book was the best part. You could just smell and feel the warmth of the Clutter home, the fresh farm air, the coziness of the farm home.Until their murderers came along and you smell the fresh scent of gun powder and senseless violence.He weaves a tale that is as fascinating as it is true.A definite read, a true classic.
Guest More than 1 year ago
In the sixties after reading an article about the multiple murder of the Clutter family in Holcomb, Kansas, writer Truman Capote went to investigate. The product of his six years of research, interviews, and investigation was released in his book, In Cold Blood. In Cold Blood is a book with many different angles and ideas. The book was at the forefront of a new genre known as New Journalism, in which true events are treated in a fictional way. Capote's book is one of the most fascinating and intelligent true-crime books ever written. In his book, Capote gives his readers a behind the scenes look at the Clutter family. He lets you get to know Herb Clutter who is undyingly devoted to his invalid wife, Bonnie. You soon feel close to the two teenage children, Kenyon and Nancy who are polite, good students with good values. Right when you start to fall in love with this family living the American dream, Capote takes his readers on a journey that begins with the family's murders and ends only with the deaths of their two killers, Dick Hickock and Perry Smith. Throughout the remarkable story Capote's keen sense of detail and description puts the audience in the story and allows them to see it from all angles. Not only to you read about the murder, but also how it affected the family and friends of the Clutters, the killers, the detectives who work diligently, and the whole tiny town that was shocked into terror. The best aspect of Capote's book and the most attacked is his account on the killers. He tells his readers of whom Hickock and Smith are, what they grew up like, and how they feel and think. He also tells of the effect the tragedy has on the town, who in the midst of a nightmare found themselves distrusting their own neighbors. It is an honest and eye-opening account on how tragedy affects people. Capote's story is chilling mostly because it is true. That there are people like Hickock and Smith and no matter where you live, tragedy can strike you in the "safest" of towns. Capote really did spend years of research and getting to know all the people involved. It is an amazing and detailed account of murder, but can get a little too wordy. Unfortunately, Capote uses too many journalistic techniques at times and goes off into unimportant facts and data. These tangents can get quite annoying, especially when you just want to hear what is going on. However, Capote makes up for his innumerable facts by his keen detail and engaging style that makes it almost impossible to put this book down. It is truly a gem and I recommend it to all that are interested.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The non-fiction novel, In Cold Blood by Truman Capote details about the brutal murders of the Clutter family in Holcomb Kansas, in 1959. Mr. and Mrs. Clutter and their two teenage children were cruelly killed by Dick Hickock and Perry Smith with no apparent motive. Because the killers leave behind a few clues, the KBI leader Alvin Dewey has a very difficult time finding the criminals. Throughout the story the protagonist Alvin Dewey searches for the motive and criminals who committed the sadistic murder. On the other hand, the criminals are on the run hoping that they will not get caught. Truman Capote’s purpose in writing this non-fiction novel is to challenge the government about the death penalty if the person’s mental state is unstable. “[…] when Smith attacked Mr. Clutter, he was under a mental eclipse, deep inside a schizophrenic darkness” (302). Obviously the author is not trying to justify the murder, but this quote shows that Perry was at an unstable mental state when he killed Clutter family. Also, “[…] my mother put me to stay in a Catholic orphanage. The one where the Black Widows were always at me. Hitting me. Because of wetting the bed. Which is one reason I have an aversion to nuns. And God. And religion” (132). This quote shows Perry is a victim of terrible child abuse. The author may be trying to tell the readers that Perry's unstable mental state and horrifying behaviors are affected by the abuse during his childhood. “In summary, he shows fairly typical characteristics of what would psychiatrically be called a severe character disorder. […] It might have substantially influenced his behavior during the past several years and at the time of the crime” (295). This quote displays that Dick has a severe character disorder, and his mentality is very unstable during the murder and robbery. So the question is.. if they get caught, should they be sentenced to death? Another reason Capote wrote this non-fiction novel was to inform us about the different minds of the criminals. “’Know what I think?’ said Perry. ‘I think there must be something wrong with us. To do what we did’” (108). This quote informs us that Perry was regretting the crime that they committed. “Why the hell couldn’t Perry shut up? […] Especially since they’d agreed, sort of, not to talk about the thing. Just forget it” (108). On the contrary, this quote shows that Dick was trying to forget all about the crime and showed no signs of regret. The author reveals very well about the minds of criminals throughout the book. Without giving away the ending, I thought the novel; In Cold Blood was a page turner because this book reads like a fiction mystery building tension and wanting me to keep reading. “[…] I’ll wager whoever did it was someone within ten miles of where we stand. Approximately four hundred miles east of where Arthur Clutter stood, two young men were sharing a booth in the Eagle Buffet” (88-89). I thought this quote well-displayed suspense because while reading the passage, I thought, 'Will they really get away with their crime?' This made me very curious, so I just kept on reading in order to find out. In addition, I liked this book because of the author’s use of imagery. “She was lying on her side, facing the wall, and the wall was covered in blood” (62). Although the descriptions were gory, I loved the fact that I could picture the wall covered in red blood and the dead victim. I felt like I was actually seeing the body, blood, and wall. Moreover, “the land is flat, and the views are awesomely extensive; horses, herds of cattle, a white cluster of grain elevators rising as gracefully as Greek temples are visible long before a traveler reaches them" (3). This quote displays the description of the land of the town Holcomb. Again I love this quote because I can picture a bunch of cows munching away on the grass and grains so tall that they can reach the sky. On the contrary, there was something I did not like about this book. Capote spent a lot of pages to describe many characters but did not talk about all of them. “Special Agents Harold Nye, Roy Church, and Clarence Duntz” (80). This quote states there were three other agents working on the case with Alvin Dewey, but Capote did not talk a lot about their point of views, except for their theories on the murder. Also for some reason, Capote gave us far more detail about Perry Smith than Dick Hickock. I wanted to understand more about Dick. Overall, I would definitely recommend this book to others who like crime stories because I think In Cold Blood is better than many other fictional crime novels I have read. I was actually caught up from beginning to end.
KLA44 More than 1 year ago
Interesting but tedious to read. As a true crime fan, it was was worth the read. Especially considering the historical factors. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'm not one who reads a lot of true crime stories, but I'd heard so many good things about this book over the years that I just had to give In Cold Blood a shot. If nothing else I just wanted to know what all the hype was about! This was not an easy read. I found myself interested in both the Clutter family and the men that murdered them. The ease at which Capote pulls you into the story is so amazing considering the topic is so awful. You already know what happens and yet you still can't put it down. There are a million reviews out there for this book, so I won't try to live up to them. I will simply say to you, read this book. Just read it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Having met members of the clutter family and seeing how the murders still devastates the family to this day, this book is a good one to inform u of what happened so u can just maybe understand their grief.
Larry45 More than 1 year ago
One of the great books of the 20th century.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A fascinating tale of a murder which was shocking because it was in a place and time where such things just were not supposed to happen. Truman Capote followed the story from the beginning of the murders to the end of final justice, travelling wherever the story led, interviewing everyone who had any knowledge of the people or the crimes. Capote himself said he would not write another such book because of the incredible emotional drain. If you like detail, descriptions and explanations, you will love this book. If you like stories trimmed to essentials, you will probably find it a slow read. T.C. writes of the Clutters so you feel you know them. He writes of Hickcock and Smith so that you can follow the chain of events before and after the crime. The lives and deaths of a Kansas farm family will not be forgotten.
alexphilAU More than 1 year ago
Herb Clutter, was a prosperous farmer in Holcomb, KS in the 1950's. After graduating from the University of Kansas, Herb saw his way into farming in which he made tremendous success. His wife, Bonnie Fox, a classmate's sister and four kids were very supportive in all his endeavors. He was a very active member of the local Baptist church in his area. He has actually given a lot to the construction of the church edifice that stands to this day. His two children were away in the city one was studying in Kansas City and another has a family i n southern Illinois. One Saturday night in mid November of 1959, after his daughter Nancy's boyfriend left. Two intruders came into the house asking for money. Unluckily, Herb Clutter has been using cheques in all his money transactions in order to keep tract of all his financial ins and outs. There was no money in the house as the intruders believed. They thought the Clutters keep a money vault at home as they have been well to do and very financially stable at that time. After some negotiations, the Clutter family was able to raise all the money they have at home at that time, which amounted only to $50 (some in coins). At this the intruders fell into rage and slid a knife into Herb Clutter's throat as he lay near the furnace in the underground room of the house. His son, Kenyon, who was tied to a cushioned seat two meters away was shot in the head after a few minutes. Then his daughter Nancy was shot a few inches away from her head while lying in her bed, and finally his wife, Bonnie was the last to be shot in the head by the intruders, Perry Smith and Richard Hickock. These two criminals were eventually hanged after five years in prison, to serve their death sentence. truman Cappote, the author was there to witness the event. This book is best for those who like to read real thrilling true stories as well as biographies. Truman Capote's prose is so vivid that you can smell blood and hear the shotgun as it fired the shots to the poor family members of the Clutter family. There is a chapter where Capote was describing the cherry pie baking in the oven by Nancy and it really sends the reader to heights as it is very clearly described. Your mouth waters and could see the bubbly pie baking in the oven. Capote has indeed made this masterpiece one of the best and richest story on true crime. This is a good book for book club discussions as well as murder stories analysis. This is also the best book I have read in terms of researh done, prose and over all presentation!!!
Rustyz More than 1 year ago
In Cold Blood, by Truman Capote is a well written book describing the gruesome killing of a family, the Clutters. Dick and Perry hearing the Clutters are a wealthy family, and decide they are going to try and rob the Clutters. To Dick and Perrys surprise Mr.Clutter in fact had very little money in his house, not wanting to leave any witnesses Dick and Perry decide to carry out an atrocity that would haunt this small town in Kansas for years to come. The towns people are in awe, they have never witnessed something like this before. Thinking it was someone they know the whole town gets suspicious of each other and their is an un-easy tention. The case seemed almost lost with very little evidence until an old prison mate of Dick's reported to the cops of what he knew, thus leading to the arrest of these Cold Blooded Killers. Truman Capote does a well job writing this book, but lacks interest. This book at most parts is extremely plain. Capote tries to build a suspense in the book by stating the outcome within the first couple pages, and describing every part of the case with the utmost detail. Capote does do a well job in bringing sympathy and remorse about the Clutters, and also the killers Dick and Perry, by really investigating their personal history. In Cold Blood is not one of those books you can read in a sitting, it is a dense book filled with lots of detail making it a slow read to fully understand everything Capote is trying to describe. Personally I found this book long and dull, I would not recommend this book to every reader, you need to have a special taste in order to grasp this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
In Cold Blood provides an interesting and emotional look at the brutal murder of a family committed by two middle-aged men. Truman Capote sets the story up with a lengthy description of the Clutter family lifestyles, which not only grabs the reader¿s attention, but also causes a sort of attachment and understanding to this benevolent family and its specific members. Capote then goes through the same process with the soon-to-be killers causing the reader to see how average and normal the antagonists seem. He is very descriptive when writing about new characters or locations to further enhance the realistic atmosphere felt when reading the novel. Capote continues his detailed and explicative writing as he tells how Perry and Dick (murderers) fled the scene and continued to Mexico to escape their past and the investigation. Months later, four officers show up to arrest and interrogate the two men based on new evidence and a key witness that was found. Perry and Dick instantly turn on each other when facing a penalty as serious as death and turn to lies and deceit in hopes of having their penalty reduced. It is ironic that all they had before the crime were each other, but as soon as the interrogations begin they are worst enemies. The tale ends with the imprisonment and delayed, but imminent, execution of both men. There were many themes in In Cold Blood but the ones that were recurrent throughout the novel were finding the limit between right and wrong, can morals change the view of the law (is murder punishable by death if the individual cannot mentally tell that the act is wrong), and does revenge ultimately cause the victim¿s family to feel at ease. Capote uncovers more of the killers¿ childhoods and reveals how disturbing they were. Some believed that Perry and Dick could not even feel remorse as they killed their victims. In fact, research into Perry¿s past was done and it was stated that, ¿His [Perry] childhood was marked by brutality and lack of concern on the part of both parents¿poorly controlled rage ¿ easily triggered by being labeled inferior to anyone else¿ and attaches little real value to human life¿ (297-298). Capote realized that the controversy over the punishment for a human killing another and feeling nothing would be large, which is why he chose to create a novel around this general theme. I liked the story immensely and Capote is a prodigious author. The thoughts invoked kept my attention throughout the novel and kept me wanting to read more. I enjoyed the writing style and the descriptive attitude, but some parts were slightly too long. I think a few too many characters were added in, and even though Capote hoped to make it seem more realistic for the reader by doing this, some parts became confusing and many character names were never used again in the story. Readers looking for something relatively short, yet thought provoking, should pick this up, but people who are sensitive to issues such as murder and descriptive events surrounding this should not read In Cold Blood.
Guest More than 1 year ago
With 'In Cold Blood' being my first book to read, I enjoyed it from the beginning to the end. I was quite nervous at first about reading the book because of the size of the book. As I began to read through the story I found out it wasn't so bad. I first noticed I was into this story when I stared losing track of time and forgeting about other work. I suggest that if anyone enjoys mystery or death, 'In Cold Blood' is your book to read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
i thought this book was veyr good but was drawn out. i though that truman capote could have shortened the story a lot. the vocabulary is very easy to understand in this story. this is really the only book that has been able to hold my attention in a while. i would recomend someone to go buy this book and read it. it is definantly a good read.
Anonymous 10 months ago