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Vintage International, 1994, 368 pages

On November 15, 1959, in the small town of Holcomb, Kansas, four members of the Clutter family were viciously murdered. There was no motive and no clues. They were all shot with a shotgun several times, except for the patriarch, Herbert Clutter, who also had his throat slashed before being shot.

Truman Capote read about this story in the newspaper and decided to travel to Holcomb, in the hopes of writing a novel. In the course of four years, he completely immersed himself into the community. He also conducted extensive interviews with the two perpetrators, Richard “Dick” Hickock and Perry Smith, and gained their trust once they were caught six weeks after the murders.

There’s got to be something wrong with us. To do what we did.

In Cold Blood is a chilling study into the complex psychological relationship between Hickock and Smith, and the devastating impact of the Clutter murders on Holcomb. Capote also takes a look at the lives of the Clutter family before they were killed. The motive for the murders: Hickock and Smith broke into the Clutter home to steal the money from their safe, but Herbert Clutter was known for never carrying cash. Smith and Hickock got upset and didn’t want to leave any witnesses.

This novel was so disturbing, I was so scared to read it before bed, but I was completely sucked into the story, I had to finish it. You know who the killers are right in the beginning of the novel, because of the way Capote sets up the story, and I was terrified that they were going to commit more vicious crimes before they got caught. The suspense that Capote creates sets your teeth on edge.

Once caught, the killers almost immediately confess to the crimes. They are eventually tried, convicted, and sent to Death Row. They are both hanged about four years after the murders.

The investigative, interviewing, and writing skills of Capote are so remarkable that this novel is considered to be a pioneer in the genre of true crime and the first “non-fiction” novel. I must also consider this novel to be one of the finest pieces of investigative journalism ever written.

I highly recommend this novel to any fans of crime or journalism or non-fiction. I’ve also watched the two recent films that came out about Capote writing and investigating for In Cold Blood: Capote (2005, in which Phillip Seymour Hoffman won Best Actor). Infamous (2006). Capote was fantastic and perfectly portrayed the story as I saw it in my head while reading In Cold Blood; Infamous, not so much.

Rating:

{  } Pretty bad
{  } Tolerable
{  } All right
{  } Exciting
{x} Enthralling

Book 51 out of 60

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