In Cold Blood by Truman Capote is a true crime novel set in Holcomb Kansas, 1959. It is 343 pages long (though it felt longer at some points due to the details that are involved in the story). Capote has received praise as well as criticism for his work on In Cold Blood.
Obviously the most important aspect of a true crime novel is the crime that it resolves around. In Cold Blood tells the story and details of one of the most famous murder cases in Kansas history. On November 15th, 1959, four members of the Clutter family are murdered in their own home. Their bodies are discovered by family friends; the cause of death is shotgun blasts at close range. There are few clues, and no apparent motive.
In Cold Blood was my first true crime novel, and I was really looking forward to enjoying it. Which I did, only in a different way than I expected to. I am a fan of mysteries and thrillers, and for whatever reason was expecting the true crime to be the same. So I was slightly disappointed when Capote starts narrating from the killers perspective within the first few chapters. I was thinking, what is the point of reading about a murder if there is no mystery involved?
Yet, with all of that said, I truly enjoyed In Cold Blood. There is still some mystery to the novel, because the murders do seem to have no motive. Also, it is just fascinating to read the story as it happens. You are provided with the perspective of the Clutter family until a few hours before their deaths, the perspective of the killer, and the perspective of the town and law enforcement officers.
As someone who loves to read about psychology and people’s motives and personalities, In Cold Blood was really interesting. I really enjoy learning about the “why” when things happen. (This is probably why I have anxiety). In Cold Blood delivers on this desire. You receive every single details in the days leading up to the murder, and then up until the murder is solved. At times it is tedious to read, but also fascinating. I now have a greater respect for psychology, what makes people tick, and how law enforcement and capital punishment works.
Capote has received some backlash on In Cold Blood. One of the main things that were said about the novel is that he took some creative liberty with the novel. There are small scenes in the book where there are insane details, such as someone washing their hands while having a serious conversation and tensely drying their hands. These are details that are clearly not remembered by the people involved. Some were upset by these creative liberties, because while they do enhance the novel and are one of the reasons that Capote can keep your attention during a novel that the “ending’ is already ruined before it begins, they technically are not true. Therefore, people do not appreciate that he calls In Cold Blood true crime or a nonfiction.
Whether or not that is something that bothers you when reading true crime is up to your discretion. Personally it did not turn me off from the novel. I think that Capote’s writing was masterful, and I was shocked at how engaged I was in a novel full of detail. Yet that is my one caution, In Cold Blood is technically not 100% true.
I would love it if you checked out In Cold Blood and let me know what you thought! You can purchase In Cold Blood here for about $13.99 if you purchase the kindle version or paperback. It is also available as hardcover and an audio book for a bit more. If you choose to purchase In Cold Blood I may receive a small commission.
Is true crime a genre you normally read? Let me know in the comments!
Also be sure to check out my last review of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close here if you like historical fiction!