In Cold Blood

In Cold Blood

A True Account of A Multiple Murder and Its Consequences

Book - 1966
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Tony_Jeffers
Apr 06, 2021

The Love of money is the root of all evil: 1 Timothy 6:10. As in the time these terrible crimes took place we are living in a time of extreme economic disparity of wealth. Less than 1% of us hoarding over 50% of the wealth with their minions grateful to earn just enough paycheck to paycheck to be able to keep their families fed with a roof over their heads. While the poorest among us(and this minority is becoming closer and closer to becoming the majority every year) count themselves fortunate to find an empty doorway to curl up in at night when the rescue shelters are (all too often) full.
Why are there still poor people? Because there are still Rich people.
Perry Smith and his dad worked every bit as hard as Herbert Clutter, but one family earned wealth while the other ended up impoverished failures.
Today many of the wealthiest Americans would have us believe that they are wealthy because they deserved to be and that those that are impoverished are so because that's what they deserve too. Well, that's been the propaganda since history began.
We need an economy that works for everyone, not just the privileged few. Affordable housing, medical care, food, and basic needs with Universally Guaranteed Income for all won't put a stop to all violent crime; but it will certainly reduce -as in this case- the economic motivations for committing them.

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dstradling
Nov 11, 2020

You can really tell that this book was written before the term "psychopath" was well-known. Capote is clearly absolutely fascinated and horrified, and maybe confused, by the actions of these two serial killers and career criminals.

Personally, when it comes to true crime I prefer a book that gets right to the point and just tells us what happened and who did it and spends a little time exploring the why. Also, some homage to the victims' lives is greatly appreciated. I think Capote delivered everything I wanted, but in such a drawn-out fashion that frankly I got bored. I do not care what the weather was like unless it is directly relevant to the story. Every small town is shocked that this could happen to them. No family deserves to be murdered. Move on. Just tell me what happened.

However, taking into account that this book was written in the 1960s I can forgive Capote for being shocked. It was pretty new information for a lot of people back then that, hey, some people are extremely messed up and sometimes horrible things happen to really good people for absolutely no good reason.

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AlexaLe
Jul 22, 2020

Most of the time, we never really get to see a murder with the perspective of the murderer in mind. In Cold Blood, by Truman Capote, allows us to do just that by telling the tragic true story of the murder of a family in Kansas by Perry Edward Smith and Richard Hickock, as well as the subsequent aftermath. The Clutter family was comprised of the well-liked Mr. Clutter, depressed Mrs. Clutter, outgoing Nancy Clutter, and intelligent Kenyon Clutter. After the family was shot and found, the leader of the investigation, Al Dewey, begins his fervent search to find the culprits of this heinous act. Meanwhile, Perry and Richard continue in their journey through life, for they left behind few clues that would give them away as the murderers. As the novel progresses, readers explore more about the two characters and their behavior after their crimes.

Although I have never been a fan of murder mysteries, I found that I thoroughly enjoyed Capote’s take on this gruesome event. Many are quick to assume that murderers deserve no mercy whatsoever, or that they only committed crimes for unthinkable reasons. However, by examining the behavior and histories of these two characters, readers are better able to understand why they made the decisions they did, as their actions and mentality stemmed from varying biological and environmental factors. The writing is compelling, and the fact that it is a true story makes it both mysterious and revealing at the same time. I highly recommend this book to those who are fans of mystery stories, but I would be cautious if you do not like violent scenes.

Age rating: 15+
Star rating: 5 stars

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Mztripp
May 11, 2020

A real exercise in commitment. This book drug on like January 2020. The side tangents were confusing and the writing style very dull.

AndreaG_KCMO May 06, 2020

A riveting, nuanced examination of the crime and trial of Perry Smith and Richard Hickock. Capote explores issues of psychology, law, religion, and family life in his vast recreation of community upheaval. With detailed description of the ghastly murders early in the book, I wondered how Capote would achieve ample build-up through the final events of the story. I shouldn't have worried.

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dalewsaville
Feb 16, 2020

Capote's book deserves the "masterpiece" designation. I found the book to be riveting and suspenseful, despite knowing the story through two different movies ("In Cold Blood" and "Capote"). It reads like a well written novel, opening on "the high wheat plains" and ending on "the wind voices of the wind-bent wheat." In between Capote tells the unbiased, detailed story of two men who brutally murder a family of four and their respective back stories. Normally I'm a slow reader, I finished the book across two days.

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deborahbates
Jul 19, 2019

Probably good if you are into the True Crime genre. It was on my reading list for school, I found it a little dull and a little unpleasant.

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lendmeyourears2017
Jun 02, 2019

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

-Truman Capote, author

The author, Truman Capote, paints a vivid picture of the scene, the times, and the people involved as he develops this story leaving the listener with just the beginning sense of foreboding as the book opens. He exercises his writer’s skills to bring a beautiful, almost fluid descriptive text of the good and bad in people.

Various people in the community had possible motivation for committing this crime – grudge holders, disgruntled employees, daughter’s boyfriend, collecting Mr. Clutter’s life insurance. Outsiders with a robbery motive were low on the list. You listen with rapt attention as the three story lines – the killers, the family, towns people – converge to the ultimate climax of this story.

How were the Clutter’s singled out by Dick Hickock and Perry Smith as their murder victims? How did the KBI (Kansas Bureau of Investigation) finally break this case? You’ll have to listen to nearly the end to find out! It’s unexpected, sad, and just a matter of unhappy chance for all concerned.

The reader, Scott Brick, keeps your attention riveted throughout this story. His vocal skills really add to the great storytelling of the author, Truman Capote. Together they take you to Holcomb, Kansas in the late 1950’s when people felt safe in their homes and strangers were friends you hadn’t met yet.

This audio book would be great as a travel companion this holiday season. The miles will fly by as you listen intently to Truman Capote’s version of the Clutter murders and subsequent clever arrest of Perry Smith/Dick Hickock. The author captures the mindset of the times – the feeling of security because you don’t live in the dangerous big city where vicious crime is common. He aptly relates the change in people’s attitude subsequent to the publicizing of the Clutter family’s murder.

This book is refreshing in that it occurs prior to DNA testing and modern forensic detecting techniques. The KBI just had a photo of boot sole patterns in the dust within the home/crime scene as their only clue. It’s considered to be a true crime novel, becoming the first in this genre. The author was able to interview townspeople and Perry Smith after his capture and conviction to delve deeper into the motivation and later reaction of those involved.

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SimonRAD
Oct 04, 2018

Top 5 True Crime book of all time. Flawless.

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Xambro7
Sep 10, 2018

This was a great read. My wife, who usually is aghast at "all the negative media" I read and watch, said "oh, it's a classic". Due to subject matter, she would never be caught moribund reading it. But I liked it, the writing was superb.

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jachayden
May 05, 2018

Not sure what all the fuss is about from the true-crime-fan community. I found it rather tedious and if it was not such a classic I would not have made myself finish it. Obviously I am happy that the killers were caught and they family can rest in peace knowing justice was somewhat served, but before reading this I had assumed this was an unsolved case and that's why the case has been so notorious for so long. I think knowing who the murderers are throughout the novel is part of what makes it so boring. There's no mystery to it all; it's just 350 pages of a tragic story and a page by page reminder of why these killings were so completely pointless. Completed 5/2/18.

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mogie
Feb 11, 2018

It was a really detailed and well researched book but at the same time easy to read. If you like true crime I recommend it. I normally have difficulty reading alternating story lines but I did not with this book.

Cynthia_N Dec 15, 2017

I was a little disappointed in this one. It wasn't bad but it just didn't live up to my expectations.

JCLMattC Jun 14, 2017

Portions of this novel dragged for me, I'll admit, but the rest was exciting. Some parts were shattering. Having watched Capote starring Philip Seymour Hoffman, I can't help but feel the author's presence lurking just outside the perimeter of the text.

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QUASAR BEHN
May 22, 2017

Mesmerizing!

Amy_MarkhamPL Feb 07, 2017

Breathtaking and incredible, In Cold Blood is one of my favourite books of all time. Truman Capote's exhaustingly-researched true crime book, detailing a multiple murder and its consequences, reads like a haunting and beautiful novel. “No one will ever know what In Cold Blood took out of me,” Capote once said. “It scraped me right down to the marrow of my bones. It nearly killed me. I think, in a way, it did kill me.”

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rpavlacic
Nov 04, 2016

Though true crime books were written before "In Cold Blood," Truman Capote's story - originally a series of four feature length articles in The New Yorker in 1965 prior to its publication in book form a year later - is the gold standard of the genre, the one by which all others are measured. Capote had written several plays and novels beforehand (e.g. "Breakfast at Tiffany's") but he outdid himself with this one.

A masterful piece of investigative journalism but written in the style of a novel, the story of a functional Kansas family who was held hostage then systematically murdered remains haunting to this day. It is still shocking that Dick Hickock and Perry Smith took over the Clutter home in the mistaken belief that the family had $10,000 in their possession, only to make off with $40 and leaving behind to survive two adult sisters (fortunately not there at the time); then going on a crime spree hanging bad cheques and stealing cars (and license plates) across America before they were finally caught in Las Vegas.

Also notable is the effect the atrocity had not just on the townsfolk of the community, but also on the prosecutors and law enforcement officials who had to deal with something on a scale almost unprecedented in the state's history.

Capote wrote several books after this one, but none ever measured up to what proved to be his masterpiece. It remains a shame that a lifestyle of hard living ended his career and life in 1984 at the age of 59. The fact the book remains in print speaks to its power and enduring legacy. A must read, although it is definitely too graphic for pre-teens.

TSCPL_ChrisB Jun 05, 2016

In Cold Blood is certainly riveting and, at times, gorgeously rendered. Some of the scenes come across as masterfully written fiction; of course, if you research the book after reading it, you'll find that some actually were fiction.

Sarah1984 May 06, 2016

7/6 - The original true crime novel. These days the murder of a family during a home invasion isn't as shocking as it was when In Cold Blood was written, so the description of the crime, and the scene afterward, didn't really bother me. The preceding description of the Clutters' final hours was more disturbing because (like when I was reading The Diary of Anne Frank) all I could think of was the fact that on that last day they were just living their life, with no idea of what was coming (and this tended to lead me to thinking about whether I (or a loved one) was living my last day and if I was would I want to be doing something different with it).

Dick Hickock and Perry Smith have to be two of the more ridiculous killers and would-be burglars that I've read about (I like true crime tv shows and books). The random, monetarily worthless stuff they stole, seemingly for the hell of it, astounded me with its absurdity. I just wanted to ask them what were they thinking, why they bothered taking any of the 'knick knacks'. All they could ever hope to make from their sale was a dollar or two, and even in 1959 that wasn't going to get you very far. Hickock and Smith's unstable and abusive childhoods didn't really make me feel sympathetic towards them, a bad childhood is no excuse for becoming a mass murderer.

I was very impressed (and possibly incredulous) with Capote's ability to get the most minute details regarding the time of the murder from all the people involved, especially their conversations years after the fact. Sometimes I had trouble believing that someone could recall a conversation that occurred years ago with such clarity. I can't recall the complete dialogue of conversations I had only days ago, let alone years.

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nannerl
Jun 17, 2015

After hearing about this book for so long, I was glad to have the opportunity to read it. It's an amazing look into all the details surrounding the murder of a Kansas farm family, including much fascinating info about the killers, what they did, why, and how they felt about it. It reads smoothly, not stilted like so many books based on true stories. It could have been a successful novel even if it wasn't telling a true story, but being based on facts from all sides it's all the more interesting.

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ManMachine
May 22, 2015

In Cold Blood tells the true story of the seemingly senseless murder of the Clutter family in Holcomb, Kansas, in 1959.

This book was written as if it were a novel, complete with dialogue, and is what Truman Capote referred to as "New Journalism" — The nonfiction novel. Although this writing style had been used before, the craft and success of In Cold Blood led to its being deemed the true masterwork of the genre.

For Truman Capote, it was the last in a series of great works, which included Breakfast at Tiffany's, Other Voices, Other Rooms, and The Grass Harp. In Cold Blood was originally published in four parts in The New Yorker and then released as a novel in 1965.

In Cold Blood took six years for Capote to research and write, and it took an incredible toll on Capote, personally — So much so that he never published another book again. In Cold Blood is said to have been his undoing.

lbarkema Aug 01, 2014

Mostly I thought it was good and a fast-paced book but I could have done without the last fourth of the book, it dragged for me.

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wilqser
Jun 08, 2014

Account of a brutal murder of a family in Kansas during the 1959 by a couple of drifters. The book takes us into the lives of the family and the rationale of the killers. Very well written novel; I wouldn't say it was a thriller, but more of whether capital punishment - whether moral or not - should be invoked and whether the mental state of the killers should be considered. Good Storytelling.

KateHillier Mar 08, 2014

It's a very well written book that reads more like a novel. You know full well how it ends, or how it must end if you're completely unfamiliar with the case, but you wonder about how and if the murderers are going to get caught. You are anxious about what is going on with the investigation. It's really a lot more like reading a novel than a nonfiction book. My only regret is that I wish I didn't know so much about it already before reading it. I think that would have helped a little bit with the experience.

Lauraparr Feb 11, 2014

Excellent book! Even when you know the story, you can't help wondering when they're going to get caught or event if they'll ever get capital punishment.


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