If one is interested in reading a disturbingly detailed and factually based novel that chronicles the course and motives of complex crime, read Truman Capote’s “In Cold Blood: A True Account of a Multiple Murder and Its Consequences.” If one scares easily, is squeamish or wants to avoid imagining a remorseless, brutal killer around every corner, do not.
In his 1965 nonfiction novel, Capote paints a disturbingly vivid picture of the quadruple murder of the Clutters, a highly regarded and semi-wealthy farming family from Holcomb, Kansas. In Cold Blood examines the incentives and methods used by the killers, as well as the effect these murders had on the small Kansas town.
“In Cold Blood,” what many consider Capote’s masterpiece, was one of the first novels of its kind: nonfiction. This genre requires an author to possess the “just the facts” attitude of a journalist, while still maintaining the ability to tell a detailed and aesthetically pleasing story.
To write “In Cold Blood,” as a journalist would, Capote traveled to Holcomb. He planned to interview residents about their methods of coping with the tragedy. While in Holcomb, the Clutters’ murderers, Perry Smith and Dick Hickock, were caught. After that, Capote’s novel evolved into something more complex. He spent the next six years following the trial and interviewing the murderers and Holcomb residents.
“In Cold Blood” showcases Capote’s true talent for both journalistic and prose writing. If one considers all the sources used in the novel, it is clear that an abundant amount of research and effort went into this work.
In the acknowledgements preceding the novel, Capote wrote, “All the material in this book not derived from my own observation is either taken from official records or is the result of interviews with persons directly concerned, more often than not numerous interviews conducted over a considerable period of time.”
Not only did he spend the better part of a decade conducting...
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