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In Cold Blood [Paperback]

Truman Capote
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (225 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Feb. 1 1994 Vintage International

National Bestseller 

On November 15, 1959, in the small town of Holcomb, Kansas, four members of the Clutter family were savagely murdered by blasts from a shotgun held a few inches from their faces. There was no apparent motive for the crime, and there were almost no clues. 

As Truman Capote reconstructs the murder and the investigation that led to the capture, trial, and execution of the killers, he generates both mesmerizing suspense and astonishing empathy. In Cold Blood is a work that transcends its moment, yielding poignant insights into the nature of American violence.

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From Amazon

"Until one morning in mid-November of 1959, few Americans--in fact, few Kansans--had ever heard of Holcomb. Like the waters of the river, like the motorists on the highway, and like the yellow trains streaking down the Santa Fe tracks, drama, in the shape of exceptional happenings, had never stopped there." If all Truman Capote did was invent a new genre--journalism written with the language and structure of literature--this "nonfiction novel" about the brutal slaying of the Clutter family by two would-be robbers would be remembered as a trail-blazing experiment that has influenced countless writers. But Capote achieved more than that. He wrote a true masterpiece of creative nonfiction. The images of this tale continue to resonate in our minds: 16-year-old Nancy Clutter teaching a friend how to bake a cherry pie, Dick Hickock's black '49 Chevrolet sedan, Perry Smith's Gibson guitar and his dreams of gold in a tropical paradise--the blood on the walls and the final "thud-snap" of the rope-broken necks.

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. In the wake of the award-winning film Capote, interest in the author's 1965 true crime masterpiece has spiked. Capote's spellbinding narrative plumbs the psychological and emotional depths of a senseless quadruple murder in America's heartland. In the audio version, narrator Brick keeps up with the master storyteller every step of the way. In fact, Brick's surefooted performance is nothing short of stunning. He settles comfortably into every character on this huge stage—male and female, lawman and murderer, teen and spinster—and moves fluidly between them, generating the feel of a full-cast production. He assigns varying degrees of drawl to the citizens of Finney County, Kans., where the crimes take place, and supplements with an arsenal of tension-building cadences, hard and soft tones, regional and foreign accents, and subtle inflections, even embedding a quiver of grief in the voice of one character. This facile audio actor delivers an award-worthy performance, well-suited for a tale of such power that moves not only around the country but around the territory of the human psyche and heart. Available as a Vintage paperback. (Mar.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

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First Sentence
THE village of Holcomb stands on the high wheat plains of western Kansas, a lonesome area that other Kansans call "out there." Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cold-blooded murder Feb. 24 2014
In 1959, the Clutter family was brutally murdered, changing the face of a small Kansas town forever. Two men were caught and hanged for the crime.

It seems like a simple story, perhaps worthy of a paragraph or two in the newspapers. But in the hands of Truman Capote, it became the strange beast known as "In Cold Blood" -- a true-crime book written with the conceits and style of fiction. While the facts are sometimes smudged, this is a beautifully-written, haunting American Gothic that lingers in the mind long after it ends.

The Clutters were a fairly normal, well-off farming family, living in the seemingly idyllic town of Holcomb. They were scandal-free, respected by their neighbors, and lived a pleasant life despite Mrs. Cutter's mental health issues. In other words, they were the complete opposites of Perry Smith and Dick Hickock, two young men with troubled pasts filled with injury, alcoholism and violence.

Having heard that the Clutters had a large cache of money in their house, Smith and Hickock carefully planned a robbery. After the robbery, the Clutters were found bound and brutally murdered. The horror of their deaths fragments the small community, as citizens wonder who among them could have committed such a crime -- and at first, the cops don't seem to have any leads. But after a tip points them at Smith and Hickock, the two men are arrested and imprisoned.

Truman Capote did a staggering amount of research for this book -- not the usual poring-through-books-and-journals type, but research into people. Over the course of several years, he interviewed the murderers and learned intimate details about their lives, their minds, and what turned them into cold-blooded murderers.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a masterful author Feb. 26 2006
By A Customer
BLOOD was the most spellbinding murder mystery I've come across in a long time, and why not? I've read that people gained a better understanding of the legal system, were able to see inside the heads of two very mentally ill people, enjoyed being fascinated about the diversity of our society and the triumphs of law enforcement. Yes, this is all well and good, but would it really hurt so much to dig past the bluntly obvious? Of course it does all of that, but much, much more. Studying criminal psychology, I read many accounts of murders and dreadful crimes. Not once have I ever come across something of this nature retold with such delicacy and beauty as In Cold Blood is built with. Capote has portrayed a terribly gruesome murder in just enough of the right light for the reader to stomach it; to envision it; to judge it, with fairness and reality; to gain appropriate perspective of the shape a mind takes when overcome by illness and, in other instances, confusion in dealing with something a small town has never seen before. As a sidenote, one thing that especially surprised me when reading this book was the mention of the sheetmusic resting on the piano during the part when the detective is visiting the murder scene...I was interested to note the connection between In Cold Blood and the murderous reputation associated with Giorgio Kostantinos's-The Quest. Anyway, if you haven't read this one yet, don't do it because you have to...because an English teacher is pushing it because you'd like to witness the work of a masterful author who has the skill and ability to portray the events surrounding a gruesome murder with beauty and elegance.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars In Cold Type... March 24 2006
Truman Capote's 'In Cold Blood' is enjoying a resurgence of popularity thanks to the Oscar-winning film depicting the author's life and work during the writing of this phenomenal piece. At one point in the film, the character Capote makes the statement that when he thinks about how good this book will be, he can hardly breathe. Perhaps it is because it is part of our history now, I don't consider the book to be that good, but it was a work fairly close to groundbreaking in its impact - it was a new genre, the narrative telling of a non-fiction event as if it were a fictional novel.
The narrative centres upon the murder of a Kansas family by two men, Perry Smith and Dick Hicock, who are in many ways far from typical killers, much less cold blooded killers. The family, the Clutters of Holcombe, Kansas, are far from typical victims, nor is this the kind of place such a murder would be expected. Capote does a remarkable job at an even-handed analysis and narrative treatment of all the characters, from the family itself to the townspeople and investigators, as well as the murderers themselves. Perhaps it is because he found an area of identification?
This is a psychological thriller of a sort - at least it would be, were it not a true life tale. Getting into the minds of the criminals and the investigators was no easy task for Capote, but what comes forth on the page is very crisp and insightful reporting, without the kinds of embellishments one might expect from a figure such as Capote when dealing with middle-America folk.
The question of why for the killing is still never fully resolved, despite Capote's attempt to set out all the story and psychological detail.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
This is just what my son needs and get it on time.
Published 1 month ago by Lingyun Zhang
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 3 months ago by Leopold St Pierre
5.0 out of 5 stars A Master Storyteller
A book worth reading. I thought it might dwell too much on the details of the victims murders, instead I found a thoughtful narrative full of insights into the minds of Hickcock... Read more
Published 8 months ago by ursula kofahl lampron
5.0 out of 5 stars A good read
I got this book as a recommendation and I am glad I did. It does not count among my top genres but I enjoyed the story. Read more
Published 17 months ago by Peter Jones
5.0 out of 5 stars Scares You To Death
I read this book for the first time when it was published and I was in high school. Recently I re-read it. The first time the story horrified me and gave me nightmares for weeks. Read more
Published 22 months ago by AllNightReader
5.0 out of 5 stars Deservedly Acclaimed
I don’t usually read true crime, but because In Cold Blood is famous, and because I watched the movie Capote, and it made the author look like an uncaring, self-obsessed, egomaniac... Read more
Published on Oct. 14 2012 by Troy Parfitt
1.0 out of 5 stars Never Got the Book
I ordered the book over a month ago and still haven't received it. Don't know what is going on.
Published on Nov. 6 2010 by Eric Rosgen
5.0 out of 5 stars A deeply disturbing great book
This is one of the best books I have read in a long while. You get to enter deeply in the minds and lives of the people concerned by a horrific and gratuitous killing spree that... Read more
Published on Jan. 9 2010 by Eager Reader
5.0 out of 5 stars Brutal Event in Journalistic Focus
This book is essentially a detailed and well-crafted piece of journalism with the level and quality of detail to bring it into horrific focus. Read more
Published on Oct. 28 2008 by Douglas P. Murphy
5.0 out of 5 stars A Literary Master
I can see that there are a number of people who do not know
the true meaning of literature and will sadly,
never realize what true literature implies. Read more
Published on Jan. 14 2008 by D. Brady
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