“In Cold Blood” is Truman Capote’s last novel. Not because he died shortly after writing it but because writing this novel took everything out of him. Upon release, it became an instant success.
Following the murder investigation of the Clutter Family, in Holcomb Kansas, the novel is written in a very impersonal manner, being the first non-fiction novel to receive critical acclaim.
Truman Capote spent a lot of time documenting for this book, going on location in Kansas to follow the trials of Perry Smith and Richard Hickock and to interview them. In the opening credits of the book, he thanks his good friend and Pulitzer Prize Winner Harper Lee, who helped him with the research.
Reading the book left me with a very weird feeling. You feel for the victims… they were good people, respected in their community, who did not deserve to die that way.
Yet, I couldn’t help to develop a sympathy for the murderers. And it is not because of the way the facts are represented in the book, by no means. Capote’s delivery is as stiff and impersonal as a technical article would be. But for some reason, knowing all the facts that led to them committing the murders, humanizes them.
When I began reading this book, I just couldn’t understand how a book where the ending is revealed to you in the first few pages, and there is no proper action to develop, just facts that are presented to you with no personal involvement from the writer, could gain and keep my interest.
One thing is for sure… I’m glad I gave this book a chance. One little hint: don’t read it while on vacation. You will ignore the people you’re with as you won’t be able to put the book down.