In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

I had an audible credit, and I had no idea what to use it on, and I asked the Internets, or Facebook, and someone suggested In Cold Blood. And I’ve also wanted to read it for a while. So I guess it gave me the push to actually read it/listen to it. I’ve also seen the Philip Seymour Hoffman movie, Capote, which is based on the time when he wrote In Cold Blood, which also made me want to read it. Anyway. Review? Yes.

The story
In Cold Blood is a True Crime story about the murder of the Clutter family in Holcomb, Kansas, in 1959. Capote heard about the murders, got really interested, and went to Kansas to write about it. The murderers were Dick Hickock and Perry Smith. They killed the Clutters for the supposed fortune on the farm. The book tells the story leading up to the murders, and then the investigation of the murders. It also tells the story of what Dick and Perry get up to before they’re caught. And it follows them until they’re hanged.

My thoughts
I really liked it, it was really interesting. It was gorgeous and fascinating.

I realize that Truman Capote took quite a bit of artistic license. He writes from the perspectives of the Clutters, the investigating agent, and Perry Smith. It’s very engaging to read from the perspectives of all these people.

I really liked reading about Dick and Perry’s relationship. They seem to both love and hate each other, and being around each other. Perry admits that he killed all four Clutters, but there seems to be some uncertainty over who actually killed them. Dick and Perry met in jail, and Perry seems to be a complete psycho, but he also feels sorry for himself. He was of mixed Cherokee and Irish descent and he seems to have felt a lot of resentment over that. And it makes him feel a bit persecuted, which I thought was interesting. He also wants to be very manly. He is physically strong, but he was in an accident, so his legs are short, and damaged, and that makes him very self-conscious, so he sort of over compensates. He has lied to Dick, to make him think that he’s more badass and dangerous than he is.

There aren’t really any chapters from Dick’s perspective, so we only see Dick through Perry’s eyes. He’s seen as this dangerous psychopath by Perry, and he definitely is. While it seems like Perry is the one that kills the Clutter family Dick is the one who heard about the Clutter family, and decided kill them for their money, and he brings in Perry. And he is the one who decides they should kill them, he also considers assaulting Nancy Clutter, the 16-year-old daughter in the family, but Perry, in a moment of very weird and misguided attempt at mercy, kills her before Dick can do that. Dick also suggests, while they’re on the run, that they hitchhike, kill the driver and steal their car. Because that’s not creepy. Obviously because we see Dick through Perry’s eyes we can’t know what Dick is actually thinks. Apparently Truman Capote talked more to Perry, so he got to know him better, so we learn more about Perry. Dick also consistently tried to get his death sentence overturned, and insists he is innocent.

What struck me most about the crime is that it seemed very senseless. It didn’t seem rational, in any way. Now I realize that murder isn’t rational, and it doesn’t make sense, but I didn’t see why they needed to kill the Clutter family. They could have just taken off and run to Mexico, and it would probably be harder to catch them, and probably less likely to get them caught. It seems like Perry just went into a frenzy and killed them, but it also felt really… weird. Why would you need to kill them? I realize it’s something that happened, and I’m not criticizing the book, I’m just… They’re stupid fucking criminals.

The writing was gorgeous. It’s really beautiful and magical. And its very natural, and the conversations between Dick and Perry were just great. It’s so gorgeous and I’d like to read it again.

The narration
As I said I listened to this on audiobook, read by Scott Brick. Which had his pros and cons. It was beautifully read. I felt like Scott Brick was just telling a story, rather than reading a book, which I really loved. He also reads it in a sort of slow Kansas drawl, which I really enjoyed, it made it feel more authentic somehow. I just really liked having it read to me. The only negative was that it didn’t really have chapter breaks, so I felt like I had to listen to it in one go or sort of stop it in the middle of a chapter. I feel like that would be easier if I read it in paper format. I would see the chapter breaks and the paragraph breaks. So while I really loved the audiobook I think I’d read the paper book if I wanted to read it again.


I really loved it. It was beautifully written, and it was beautifully narrated. There was always this sense of drama and tension, and even though it’s based on a real event and I knew how it would end, I was really worried about how it would end. I was nervous they wouldn’t catch the killers. So that’s good. I loved it.