Book Review

IN COLD BLOOD by Truman Capote

Rating: 3.5 / 5

IN COLD BLOOD by Truman Capote is a book that has been on my TBR for a while, so it was a good one to pick up for the book related to something cold prompt on this year’s Around the Year in 52 Books reading challenge! I have been wanting to get some more nonfiction into my reading and this book is categorized first as nonfiction and second as a classic on Goodreads, so it seemed an appropriate place to start. I also picked this as my book outside of your comfort zone for the recent #spookathon readathon and it definitely fit the bill for that as well!

In 1959 a viscous murder occurs in Holcomb, a small town in Kansas with a tight knit community. Four members of the Clutter family, husband wife and their two youngest children, were killed by shotgun blasts that nobody heard. There appeared to be no motive for the crime and the police had little to go on to investigate. Even so, investigators were determined to come to a resolution on this shocking crime.

The book tells the family’s story in the days leading up to their death, painting a picture of a conservative and tight family loved by their community. Alongside their story is that of the killers, Perry Smith and Dick Hickcock, in their days leading up to the crime and afterwards. The author has pieced together statements from witnesses, the investigators and the killers themselves to track the before, during and after of this horrible event right up through the trial, conviction and execution of the two perpetrators.

I found this to be a very interesting narrative overall. The time and effort Capote put into his investigation and reconstruction is clear, especially given that the crime occurred in 1959 when records were much less easily accessed. That said, the execution was a bit slow for my taste and my attention did wander quite a bit during some portions of the book. You know the identity of the killers and the outcome from the very beginning which maybe is an element of true crime that might not be a perfect fit for my thriller and mystery reading tastes.

I found the character studies of the Clutter family, Smith and Hickock to be very interesting, but the investigation itself was a bit long and drawn out (as it was in real life as well, no doubt). The actual format of the book is pretty dense as well, but I thankfully had the book on audio as well so that helped quite a bit.

Overall, this is an interesting read and I’m glad I picked it up, but it isn’t one that i would personally classify as a “must read”.

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