In Cold Blood: A Harrowing Account of Unspeakable Undertakings


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In Cold Blood was published in 1965 and follows the murders within a family. The four members of the family lived within a small farming community in Holcomb, Kansas.

     A small town in western Kansas. A happy and content family that had done no wrong to anyone in particular. A countryside home, far out of the way of any potential wrongdoers. This was the last place anyone would expect a terrible crime to be committed. But yet, on November 15, 1959, four members of the Clutter family were brutally murdered by the blasts of a shotgun, in cold blood. At first, the police and crime scene investigators were completely baffled. Why would they target such an innocent family? And why for such a negligible financial gain? The murderers, Dick Hickock and Perry Smith, also left very few clues behind them. And due to having no personal connections to the family, they were able to get away with their unspeakable act – at least temporarily.

     This tale of a family being killed for no clearly apparent reason also has the ability to make any reader feel unsafe. Whether intended by the author, Truman Capote, or not, after hearing the true accounts of the Clutter family members’ deaths, any reader could be easily unnerved by the events of the novel. From when the residents of the town the Clutters lived in said that the family was the “least likely” in the world to be murdered to when the plot that Dick and Perry had been putting together is finally relayed back towards the reader, In Cold Blood tends to make even the most relaxed of readers feel slightly less comfortable with their surroundings. 

     As a reader of other classic novels, I’d have to say that In Cold Blood is unique in the fact that it is taken from a nonfiction perspective. In Cold Blood recounts the true story of the Clutter family murders. Truman Capote, using a technique referred to as “New Journalism,” wrote this novel in a factual style. And although this writing technique had been used before, In Cold Blood has oftentimes been considered one of the best works of the genre. Capote, after dedicating an entire six years of his life towards this novel alone, created a truly amazing book. After endless digging and researching over everything related to this murder case, Capote put together a masterpiece of his time. And while not everyone may appreciate how intricately he put the puzzle of the Clutters’ murder case and the motives and upbringing of the killers together, most who read In Cold Blood will be greatly impressed by Capote’s writing prowess.

     From someone who’s read other notable classic novels such as 1984, Fahrenheit 451 and The Great Gatsby, among others, I’d have to say that In Cold Blood is definitely not a book for everyone. At times, the book can have anticlimactic sections where a reader unaccustomed to comprehensive details could find themselves losing focus. But if a murder mystery excites you, then this could still be just the book for you. While some readers might drift off at times, many others will find themselves absorbed in all the new details discovered by the investigators and will love hearing Dick and Perry’s backstories, figuring out what makes their brains tick and why they committed such a terrible atrocity.