In Cold Blood

In Cold Blood

A True Account of A Multiple Murder and Its Consequences

Book - 2013
Average Rating:
Rate this:
Powerful account of the brutal slaying of a Kansas family by two young ex-convicts.
Publisher: New York : Modern Library, 2013, c1965
Edition: 2013 Modern Library ed
ISBN: 9780812994384
Characteristics: viii, 396 p. ; 21 cm


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment

Feb 11, 2018

It was a really detailed and well researched book but at the same time easy to read. If you like true crime I recommend it. I normally have difficulty reading alternating story lines but I did not with this book.

Cynthia_N Dec 15, 2017

I was a little disappointed in this one. It wasn't bad but it just didn't live up to my expectations.

JCLMattC Jun 14, 2017

Portions of this novel dragged for me, I'll admit, but the rest was exciting. Some parts were shattering. Having watched Capote starring Philip Seymour Hoffman, I can't help but feel the author's presence lurking just outside the perimeter of the text.

May 22, 2017


Amy_MarkhamPL Feb 07, 2017

Breathtaking and incredible, In Cold Blood is one of my favourite books of all time. Truman Capote's exhaustingly-researched true crime book, detailing a multiple murder and its consequences, reads like a haunting and beautiful novel. “No one will ever know what In Cold Blood took out of me,” Capote once said. “It scraped me right down to the marrow of my bones. It nearly killed me. I think, in a way, it did kill me.”

Nov 04, 2016

Though true crime books were written before "In Cold Blood," Truman Capote's story - originally a series of four feature length articles in The New Yorker in 1965 prior to its publication in book form a year later - is the gold standard of the genre, the one by which all others are measured. Capote had written several plays and novels beforehand (e.g. "Breakfast at Tiffany's") but he outdid himself with this one.

A masterful piece of investigative journalism but written in the style of a novel, the story of a functional Kansas family who was held hostage then systematically murdered remains haunting to this day. It is still shocking that Dick Hickock and Perry Smith took over the Clutter home in the mistaken belief that the family had $10,000 in their possession, only to make off with $40 and leaving behind to survive two adult sisters (fortunately not there at the time); then going on a crime spree hanging bad cheques and stealing cars (and license plates) across America before they were finally caught in Las Vegas.

Also notable is the effect the atrocity had not just on the townsfolk of the community, but also on the prosecutors and law enforcement officials who had to deal with something on a scale almost unprecedented in the state's history.

Capote wrote several books after this one, but none ever measured up to what proved to be his masterpiece. It remains a shame that a lifestyle of hard living ended his career and life in 1984 at the age of 59. The fact the book remains in print speaks to its power and enduring legacy. A must read, although it is definitely too graphic for pre-teens.

TSCPL_ChrisB Jun 05, 2016

In Cold Blood is certainly riveting and, at times, gorgeously rendered. Some of the scenes come across as masterfully written fiction; of course, if you research the book after reading it, you'll find that some actually were fiction.

May 06, 2016

7/6 - The original true crime novel. These days the murder of a family during a home invasion isn't as shocking as it was when In Cold Blood was written, so the description of the crime, and the scene afterward, didn't really bother me. The preceding description of the Clutters' final hours was more disturbing because (like when I was reading The Diary of Anne Frank) all I could think of was the fact that on that last day they were just living their life, with no idea of what was coming (and this tended to lead me to thinking about whether I (or a loved one) was living my last day and if I was would I want to be doing something different with it).

Dick Hickock and Perry Smith have to be two of the more ridiculous killers and would-be burglars that I've read about (I like true crime tv shows and books). The random, monetarily worthless stuff they stole, seemingly for the hell of it, astounded me with its absurdity. I just wanted to ask them what were they thinking, why they bothered taking any of the 'knick knacks'. All they could ever hope to make from their sale was a dollar or two, and even in 1959 that wasn't going to get you very far. Hickock and Smith's unstable and abusive childhoods didn't really make me feel sympathetic towards them, a bad childhood is no excuse for becoming a mass murderer.

I was very impressed (and possibly incredulous) with Capote's ability to get the most minute details regarding the time of the murder from all the people involved, especially their conversations years after the fact. Sometimes I had trouble believing that someone could recall a conversation that occurred years ago with such clarity. I can't recall the complete dialogue of conversations I had only days ago, let alone years.

Jun 17, 2015

After hearing about this book for so long, I was glad to have the opportunity to read it. It's an amazing look into all the details surrounding the murder of a Kansas farm family, including much fascinating info about the killers, what they did, why, and how they felt about it. It reads smoothly, not stilted like so many books based on true stories. It could have been a successful novel even if it wasn't telling a true story, but being based on facts from all sides it's all the more interesting.

May 22, 2015

In Cold Blood tells the true story of the seemingly senseless murder of the Clutter family in Holcomb, Kansas, in 1959.

This book was written as if it were a novel, complete with dialogue, and is what Truman Capote referred to as "New Journalism" — The nonfiction novel. Although this writing style had been used before, the craft and success of In Cold Blood led to its being deemed the true masterwork of the genre.

For Truman Capote, it was the last in a series of great works, which included Breakfast at Tiffany's, Other Voices, Other Rooms, and The Grass Harp. In Cold Blood was originally published in four parts in The New Yorker and then released as a novel in 1965.

In Cold Blood took six years for Capote to research and write, and it took an incredible toll on Capote, personally — So much so that he never published another book again. In Cold Blood is said to have been his undoing.

View All Comments


Add Age Suitability

Nov 04, 2016

rpavlacic thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over


Add a Quote

SPL_STARR Jun 16, 2015

"The village of Holcomb stands on the high wheat plains of western Kansas, a lonesome area that other Kansans call "out there." "


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number

Subject Headings


Find it at SSFPL

To Top