Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood documents the 1959 murders of Herbert Clutter, a successful farmer from Holcomb, Kansas, his wife, and two of their four children. Capote, accompanied by his childhood friend and fellow author Nelle Harper Lee, traveled to Kansas to write about the crime. Together they interviewed local residents and investigators assigned to the case and took thousands of pages of notes.
The killers, Richard “Dick” Hickock and Perry Smith, were arrested some six weeks after the murders, and Capote ultimately spent six years working on the book, which became the greatest crime seller at the time and is almost universally acknowledged as one of the best books of its type ever written.
The book examines the complex psychological relationship between two parolees who together commit a mass murder. Capote’s book also explores the lives of the victims and the effect of the crime on the community where they lived.
In Cold Blood is regarded as a pioneering work of the true crime genre, though Capote was disappointed that the book failed to win the Pulitzer Prize. Several renditions of the story have made it to the silver screen over the years.
The book graphically details the murders and the psychopathic behavior of the killers, and has endured for decades as a masterpiece of non-fiction.
In Cold Blood is not children’s reading. And as adults, we can choose to read or not read it.
It’s the beauty of a book: you can pick it up — or not. The choice is yours.