In Cold Blood

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote


On November 15, 1959, in the small town of Holcomb, Kansas, a wealthy farmer, his wife, and their two young children were found brutally murdered. Blood all over the walls, the telephone lines cut, and only a few dollars stolen. Heading up the investigation is Agent Al Dewey, but all he has are two footprints, four bodies, and a whole lot of questions.


"How well I know that Perry is goodhearted if you treat him rite. Treat him mean & you got a buzz saw to fight. You can trust him with any amount of $ if your his friend. He will do as you say he wont steal a cent from a friend or anyone else. Before this happened. And I sincerely hope he will live the rest of his life a honest man."

I have rather mixed feelings about this book. At the beginning, I thought it was quite hard to read. Not because it is complicated or convoluted or anything like that but simply because the obsessive detail with which Capote relayed this story tired me. However, the more I'm thinking about it, the more I realize how much I enjoy it.

"Added up, how much money did you get from the Clutters?" 
"Between forty and fifty dollars."

What I can praise, without hesitation, is the uniqueness of this book. While it is nonfiction there is so much detail in it that the story often feels like it's made up. Combined with the gruesomeness of the events recounted, I often had to remind myself that this is, or rather was, real. This really happened. It truly did. Wow.

Admittedly, one of the things that threw me off was the fact that I wasn't able to connect with the story as I wanted to. The thing is, I don't know whether I should have been able to connect with it or not because it is such a ghastly book. Yes, sure, feeling terrible about what happened to the Clutters is natural – but how am I supposed to feel about Perry and Dick? I don't think there is an answer to this (apart from believing that they didn't deserve death because I'm opposed to the death-penalty altogether) and, frankly, posing that question to myself set me back into my own mind rather than into the story. Moreover, this disconnect was supported by the constant jumps in the story, which were a side-effect of Capote wanting to explain as much as he possibly could.

Conversely, the masterfulness with which this book was complied is astonishing. I couldn't stop thinking about all the work that must have gone into the writing of this book. Capote must have had several books filled with interviews and letters and pretty much any kind of text you can think of. Not only that, but he had to put all of these texts together in a meaningful way. It is quite astonishing. Like, I'm already flustered if I write an essay on a short story, usually ending up frantically flipping through the pages in search of certain excerpts even if I've made notes, color-coded passages, and marked the most important quotes.

To put it bluntly, from an "as objective as I can be" standpoint this book is fantastic but from my subjective (and very much so) standpoint it felt almost rather average. That's where I stand right now but I do wonder how my relationship with In Cold Blood will develop once some time has passed. 

For now, I'm left with the strong wish to reread The Enchanted by Rene Denfeld.


I think I'll give it, probably temporary, 3.5/5 stars. But, honestly, it's almost certainly going to go up to at least 4/5 stars – considering I started reading it the first half with a 2/5 stars in mind, continued the second half with a 3/5 stars in mind and am, even as I'm writing this, toying with the idea of giving it more than 3.5/5 stars.


Name: In Cold Blood
Deutscher Titel: Kaltblütig
Author: Truman Capote
Publisher: Penguin
Pages: 343 (However, the writing is pretty dense and small, hence, it feels a little longer)
Where?: Amazon (English edition), Amazon (Deutsche Ausgabe)


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