Tuesday, February 9, 2010

In Cold Blood

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I wasn't sure what to expect from of this book.  I am not a huge "true crime" fan.  And the only thing I know about Truman Capote is Breakfast at Tiffany's (the movie not even the novella), and I was sure that In Cold Blood wasn't going to give me any quirky characters such as Holly Golightly.  So I had no expectations and because of that I think, I enjoyed In Cold Blood... A lot.  And I added Truman Capote into my medium length list of fabulous writers.  The story was written with such a great voice that I could picture every horrible detail unfolding in front of me.  What I found very interesting is that Truman Capote took a true story and wrote it in novel form (he called it a Nonfictional Novel).  Capote made the real people involved in the event characters with thoughts, feelings, and habits.  Which I find ironic because authors so many times try to make their characters passable as real people.  Capote made this true account into a well rounded story not a dry recollection of interviews and recorded court room scenes.

The plot is very very simple, two bad men, Perry Smith and Dick Hickock, kill a prominent well loved family (the Clutters) in cold blood (hence the title) in a sleepy little town in Kansas.  Then these hooligans hop from state to state and eventually get caught, sentenced, and hung.  Don't worry I didn't spoil anything for you because the genius of this book is that you know that what is to come from the very beginning.  You know that yes the Clutters are killed, yes you know who the murders are, and yes you know they get caught before you even open the book.  So it really isn't a "who done it" book but a book about a crime, the criminals, and the events that lead up to their arrest and execution.  Even though you know all the details up front you are still kept in suspense as the little details unfold.  Something that I think is really interesting is that Capote makes you feel a little sorry for one or both of the killers at different points in the book.  Even though these boys did the unthinkable you still are routing for them to maybe not get the death sentence up to the moment they are taking the walk to up the stairs of the scaffold.  At least I was and if you aren't routing for them then please don't judge my character... ;)

All in all I believe I would highly recommend this book to many people.  If you like mystery, history, psychology, or thrillers, I think you would like In Cold Blood.  Also, I am so excited to be introduced (more formally) to the works of Truman Capote.  I will absolutely seek out more of his masterpieces in the near future.

BOOK vs. MOVIE: There as been 2 versions of this story made into a movie.  Once in 1967 and then again in 1996 as a made of TV movie.  I don't think I am going to go out of my way to see either one because I feel like the writing was so vivid that a movie couldn't do it justice.

RATING: 4 Stars

3 More reviews on In Cold Blood:

In Cold Blood {Audio Book}
ISBN 9780739333648
12 CDs {14 hours 27 minutes}

If you like this book then read: Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders by Vincent Bugliosi


  1. i'm glad to hear you liked it, after watching Capote i got interested and wanted to read it but have never got around to it - haven't been sure if it would be my thing or not. my book club at the time read Breakfast at Tiffany's which i LOVED and i highly recommend.

  2. I read this book last year, and felt very much the same! I was also routing for Dick and Perry at various points and felt totally sorry for what happened! It was such a callous murder, done to prove a point, and that made the whole episode so very sick! Good review!

  3. This is one of my all time favorite books, and I've loved Capote since, well, since childhood I guess. I don't think it is strange that you felt empathy toward the killers - I think that is exactly what Capote wanted you to do. That is part of the genius of this book. Great review.

  4. I forgot about this book. I have become a fan of true crime, so I may have to check it out.

  5. Thanks for following my blog :) I'm following back.


  6. Great review - I loved this book took, as sad on many levels as it is. Have you seen the movie Capote? Whether or not it's historically accurate, it adds so much context to the book - and Philip Seymour Hoffman's performance is absolutely fantastic!

    By the way - I am thoroughly enjoying The Book Thief! I picked it up after reading your review a month or so ago - so thanks!

  7. I quit this book about a year ago. Sounds like I definitely need to give it another chance.

  8. Ooooo! Lots of comments! This book has sparked a lot of discussion every time I bring it up! I am bummed I didn't suggest it for our book club, I'm sure we could have talked for hours about it! After all the discussion I have confirmed that I will have to watch the movie as well as Capote. And I will absolutely have to READ Breakfast at Tiffany's (I don't know if I can do it... That movie is Audry Hepburn to me).

    @Aths & Elizabeth: I am glad I'm not the only one that felt sympathy toward Perry and Dick. I think your right Elizabeth, I think Capote wanted you to struggle with you feeling toward them.

    @Linda & Angie: You have to read it. I feel like it is an important piece for a biblophile.

    @Greg: I am HUGE fan of Philip Seymour Hoffman so I am sure I am going to love Capote. And I am SO glad you picked up The Book Thief. I can't wait to read your opinion on the book!

  9. I'm glad you enjoyed this! I thought it was great when I read it a few years back.

  10. i've given you an award at my blog, you can view it here :-)


  11. I have wanted to read this ever since I read Capote's little collection of holiday stories (One Christmas, A Christmas Memory, and A Thanksgiving Visitor). All three of those stories were so vivid and touching, they brought me to tears.