In Cold Blood: A True Account of a Multiple Murder and Its Consequences

In Cold Blood: A True Account of a Multiple Murder and Its Consequences

Book rating: 05 Paperback Penguin Modern Classics

By (author) Truman Capote

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  • Publisher: PENGUIN CLASSICS
  • Format: Paperback | 352 pages
  • Dimensions: 128mm x 196mm x 22mm | 260g
  • Publication date: 3 February 2000
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 0141182571
  • ISBN 13: 9780141182575
  • Sales rank: 580

Product description

The chilling true crime 'non-fiction novel' that made Truman Capote's name, "In Cold Blood" is a seminal work of modern prose, a remarkable synthesis of journalistic skill and powerfully evocative narrative published in "Penguin Modern Classics". Controversial and compelling, "In Cold Blood" reconstructs the murder in 1959 of a Kansas farmer, his wife and both their children. Truman Capote's comprehensive study of the killings and subsequent investigation explores the circumstances surrounding this terrible crime and the effect it had on those involved. At the centre of his study are the amoral young killers Perry Smith and Dick Hickcock, who, vividly drawn by Capote, are shown to be reprehensible yet entirely and frighteningly human. Truman Capote (1924-84) was born in New Orleans. He left school when he was fifteen and subsequently worked for The New Yorker, which provided his first - and last - regular job. He wrote both fiction and non-fiction - short stories, novels and novellas, travel writing, profiles, reportage, memoirs, plays and films; his other works include "In Cold Blood" (1965), "Music for Chameleons" (1980) and "Answered Prayers" (1986), all of which are published in "Penguin Modern Classics". If you enjoyed "In Cold Blood", you might like Jack Kerouac and William S. Burroughs' "And the Hippos were Boiled in their Tanks", also available in "Penguin Modern Classics". "It is the American dream turning into the American nightmare...By juxtaposing and dovetailing the lives and values of the Clutters and those of the killers, Capote produces a stark image of the deep doubleness of American life ...a remarkable book." ("Spectator").

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Author information

Truman Capote was born in New Orleans in 1925 and was raised in various parts of the south, his family spending winters in New Orleans and summers in Alabama and New Georgia. By the age of fourteen he had already started writing short stories, some of which were published. He left school when he was fifteen and subsequently worked for the New Yorker which provided his first - and last - regular job. Following his spell with the New Yorker, Capote spent two years on a Louisiana farm where he wrote Other Voices, Other Rooms (1948). He lived, at one time or another, in Greece, Italy, Africa and the West Indies, and travelled in Russia and the Orient. He is the author of many highly praised books, including A Tree of Night and Other Stories (1949), The Grass Harp (1951), Breakfast at Tiffany's (1958), In Cold Blood (1965), which immediately became the centre of a storm of controversy on its publication, Music for Chameleons (1980) and Answered Prayers (1986), all of which are published by Penguin. Truman Capote died in August 1984.

Customer reviews

By Marianne Galvez 27 Feb 2014 5

Despite being a little difficult to get into at first, I found that this book was so well-written and paints a perfect picture in the reader's mind exactly what happened in that town in 1959. Being in my 20s, it was a different experience having to read a novel that was written over 50 years ago, as the style of writing was quite different to what I was used to reading. However, I fast became used to the style and even enjoyed and deeply admired the way it was written. Capote wrote so eloquently yet spoke of the events so matter-of-factly. I could not put this book down, and there isn't a lot of books that I can say that about. Brilliant read, and I recommend this to anybody, especially those who are interested in true crime.

By Nada BN 17 Sep 2013 5

The Clutter family remains the nightmare of Holcomb, a small Kansas city knowing just peaceful life till the unmotivated and unexplainable murder of the four family members in 1959. The novel, a real documentary analysis of crime, shows that greed combined to lack of feelings and problematic social background form criminals who kill, never repent or feel bad after their crime. Perry Smith and Richard Hickock started with petty crimes and theft but prison life and spirit pushed them to dare and try more. Believing that the FBI investigation could not trace them they moved freely till their arrest and trial. The novel shows clearly that some types of weak personalities are not capable to resist if they find themselves in problematic surroundings and after starting criminal life they can not retrieve but fall deeper and deeper in crime actions. The irreversibily of their decision acts like fate which leads obligatorily to a tragical end.

Editorial reviews

**"There's got to be something wrong with somebody who'd do a thing like that." This is Perry Edward Smith, talking about himself. "Deal me out, baby... I'm a normal." This is Richard Eugene Hickock, talking about himself. They're as sick a pair as Leopold and Loeb and together they killed a mother, a father, a pretty seventeen year old and her brother, none of whom they'd seen before, in cold blood. A couple of days before they had bought a 100 foot rope to garrote them - enough for ten people if necessary. This small pogrom took place in Holcomb, Kansas, a lonesome town on a flat, limitless landscape: a depot, a store, a cafe, two filling stations, 270 inhabitants. The natives refer to it as "out there." It occurred in 1959 and Capote has spent five years, almost all of the time which has since elapsed, in following up this crime which made no sense, had no motive, left few clues - Just a footprint and a remembered conversation. Capote's alternating dossier Shifts from the victims, the Clutter family, to the boy who had loved Nancy Clutter, and her best friend, to the neighbors, and to the recently paroled perpetrators: Perry, with a stunted child's legs and a changeling's face, and Dick, who had one squinting eye but a "smile that works." They had been cellmates at the Kansas State Penitentiary where another prisoner had told them about the Clutters - he'd hired out once on Mr. Clutter's farm and thought that Mr. Clutter was perhaps rich. And this is the lead which finally broke the case after Perry and Dick had drifted down to Mexico, back to the midwest, been seen in Kansas City, and were finally picked up in Las Vegas. The last, even more terrible chapters, deal with their confessions, the law man who wanted to see them hanged, back to back, the trial begun in 1960, the post-ponements of the execution, and finally the walk to "The Corner" and Perry's soft-spoken words - "It would be meaningless to apologize for what I did. Even inappropriate. But I do. I apologize."... It's a magnificent Job - this American tragedy - with the incomparable Capote touches throughout. There may never have been a perfect crime, but if there ever has been a perfect reconstruction of one, surely this must be it. (Kirkus Reviews)