I decided to read a book that is considered one of the best books of all time and I was glad I did. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote is a non-fiction book that follows the murder of a wealthy family in Kansas in 1959. Keep reading for a short summary of the book and whether you should read it next!
In Cold Blood Summary
Herbert “Herb” Clutter is a wealthy farmer that lives in western Kansas with his wife, son, and daughter. He employs as much as 18 workers to work on his farmland where the wages are good. Herb also has two older daughters that have married and have moved out with their husbands. His wife has been diagnosed with clinical depression and struggles to live a normal life because of that
On November 29, 1959 the Clutter family is found murdered in their house. They were killed by Richard Eugene “Dick” Hickock and Perry Edward Smith, two ex-convicts that were out on parole. After getting out, Perry received a letter from Dick about a job that is the perfect crime. A few days after they killed the Clutters, they drive down to Mexico and try to start anew.
The residents of the small town of Holcomb are shocked by the murders of the family and believe that someone in the town murdered them. The police try to find the criminals and the motive of the crime with little to go on. But a breakthrough occurs in the unlikeliest of places and helps the detectives pursue the killers.
As noted earlier, this is a non-fiction book that focuses on the real-life murder of the Clutter family. While it is a true story, parts of the book have been exaggerated and some parts have been added according to critics. Capote has denied that he added elements of fiction but residents of Kansas have disputed those claims.
After the murders happened and before the murderers were arrested, Capote went to Kansas with his childhood and author Harper Lee. They interviewed the residents of Kansas and Lee played a big part in Capote’s book. He, however, didn’t mention or acknowledge her in the book at all.
The book went on to be a huge success and is the second best-selling crime book of all time, only behind Vincent Bugliosi‘s book Helter Skelter. Capote however, never followed up with another book and his career declined over the years until his death in 1984. His friendship with Lee fell apart because of Capote’s jealousy towards Lee and the success of her (amazing) book To Kill a Mockingbird.
I really enjoyed this book a lot and liked all of the perspectives that Capote provides. Some stuff didn’t need to be in the book but I won’t hold it against him. The book does raise some interesting moral questions as well as the rights of criminals even though they committed atrocities.
If you like crime or true crime books, then this should be your next read! While this case isn’t big and people now likely won’t know it outside the book, it is still an interesting one. Especially considering how they caught the criminals. It sounds like it came out of a book which is maybe why it made a good book. Happy reading!