In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
Published: Original: 1966 Latest: 2006
"In Cold Blood, by Truman Capote, describes the events preceding and following the murder of the Clutter family in their small town Kansas home. This "nonfiction novel" is based on events that truly happened but are portrayed novelistically.
Capote depicts the thoughts, actions, and conversation of the killers in the weeks and hours before the murders. Also depicted is the homey domestic life of the doomed Clutter family, denizens of the good and virtuous life in small town Kansas.
Dick Hickock, the dominant of the two killers is a psychopath--charming, pleasant, fearless, but with deficient conscience and little understanding of the pain he causes others. Perry, an American Indian who grew up without means, is stunted in appearance, deluded about the riches that await him, constantly nibbling on aspirin to thwart pain from injured joints, and tormented by memories of a sad and deprived youth. Meanwhile, Herb Clutter, the father of the doomed family, is a pillar of the town, honest and good, caring for a disabled with, with children as promising, sweet and hopeful as any parent could wish for.
The family is murdered one by one in blazing shotgun blasts. Perry, ironically, shows some humanity by positioning a cushion under one victim's head. But not a cent is found in the safe the killers had heard, from a jailbird, held millions. Perry finds himself chasing a rolling silver dollar on the floor, a souvenir of Clutter's just killed daughter.
The efforts, eventually successful, of law enforcement and justice to identify, track down, arrest, interrogate, convict, and finally execute the killers is detailed, and the story ends with the visit of a family friend to the small country graveyard where the family was laid to rest."
I just finished this classic book by Truman Capote last week. This True Crime type of novel is a departure from the type of book that I usually prefer, but it had been sitting in my wish list for ages---I decided to order it up to my Kindle and take a break from vampires and werewolves.
Having grown up in New York City, surrounded by tales or murder and mayhem on our nightly news, I’d thought myself too jaded to be moved by the account of a murder committed 50 years ago. I was wrong.
As I read through Capote’s re-enactment of the crime and subsequent investigation (think ‘America’s Most Wanted’ where conversations and events are projected from the facts, so that you are placed into the middle of the events and motivations of all involved) I found myself horrified by the grisly murders, petty motives and the sad loss of life.
I also felt a small glimmer of pity for the killers…they seemed doomed from the start to become what they were by difficult childhoods and freak accidents. A very, very small glimmer, though.
At any rate, it took me about a week to get through this book. The subject matter is so heavy, that I felt the need to occasionally flip to something lighter just to break it up.
I would recommend In Cold Blood to someone looking for a masterfully-written, thought-provoking read.
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