In Cold Blood ~Book Review~

In Cold Blood

By: Truman Capote

Cleanliness (See “About” for scale): 3/5 (Cursing, Topics to consider: murder, racism, pedophilia, suicide, and capital punishment.)

4 Stars

“Of all the people in the world, the Clutters were the least likely to be murdered.”

In Cold Blood is a well-crafted, intriguing true story of the Clutter family murders in 1959. Although it claims to be a completely true account of the incident, it reads much more like a fiction book than any true crime I’ve read. The details and descriptions really help you to understand the depth of emotions involved in the case.

One of the most intriguing aspects of this book to me was how Capote chose to focus on the backstories of both the victims and killers while having relatively little focus on the actual murder until much later in the book. His way of crafting the victims’ lives and interactions with friends and family makes the reader empathize with everyone in the town of Holcomb, Kansas. Through snippets from many interviews, the author lets you see the same story from many different perspectives.

The perspective I didn’t expect to be so prevalent was the perspective of both of the killers – not only what led up to the murders, but also their home life and what they did after they fled Kansas. I do, however, think the author was slightly biased toward one of the murderers, Perry Smith. The story was crafted to make the reader feel for him over Dick even though they were equally guilty of their crimes. Unlike a lot of other true crime books, I came to despise the murderers not only for this single incident, but also for who they were as people.

Although the pace was fairly slow and it was clear who the perpetrators were from the beginning of the book, Capote still somehow built up a lot of suspense about the details of the event as well as the conclusion of the case. It held my attention and had me speeding through the pages. For anyone who wants to learn about the Clutter case or read a book which delves into the backstories of murderers, I definitely recommend this story.

A powerful quote: “The question is this – do poor, plainly guilty defendants have a right to a complete defense? I do not believe that the state of Kansas would be either greatly or for long harmed by the death of these appellants. But I do not believe it could ever recover from the death of due process.”

9 thoughts on “In Cold Blood ~Book Review~

  1. Interesting choice for a book review. This was Capote’s attempt to try something new, tell a non-fiction story in the form of a novel. He draws you in to the worlds of the victims and their killers. I wouldn’t say it was sympathetic towards the killers, but it shows how they arrived at the situation. One of the police investigators made a very astute observation when he said, “Individually, neither of these two men would have committed the crime.” I believe you are right when you say Capote was biased towards Perry Smith, people around Capote felt he may have been obsessed with him. An excellent book but it’s not for everyone.

    Liked by 1 person

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