In Cold Blood

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote – Reviewed by Guy Portman

In Cold Blood

The story takes the form of a study and investigation that reconstructs the real life murders of a Kansas farmer, his wife and teenaged children.  Residing near the town of Holcombe, the Clutters, as they are referred to in the book, are a popular family.  There is the father Herb Clutter, a devout Methodist and a bastion of the community, his wife Bonnie Clutter, who suffers from mental health problems and spends a lot of time in her room, their popular teenaged son Kenyon, and horse riding, cherry pie making daughter Nancy.  One morning in the early hours the house is broken into, the four members of the family are tied up and then shot.  Few clues are left behind and there is no obvious motive for this brutal killing.

Presented in a journalistic style, the book probes every facet of the random events surrounding the senseless slayings, including an in-depth study into the lives of the two young murderers, Perry Smith and Dick Hickock.  Perry is a well read half Native American, who suffered a traumatic childhood, and Dick an outgoing, irresponsible womaniser.

This nonfiction novel, Capote’s seminal work, is a blend of narrative and journalism that utilises an evocative narrative, vivid characters and detailed descriptions to successfully transport the reader into the Holcombe, Kansas of 1959.

Despite the fact that the reader is aware of what is going to occur the anticipation of the events provides suspense.  The insightful reporting and diligent research that is the backbone for this remarkable and innovative work could be argued on occasion to detract from the story.

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