In Cold Blood
In a slight departure from the norm, this month’s recommended reading comes in the form of Truman Capote’s non-fictional classic, In Cold Blood. First published in 1966, it recounts the 1959 murders of four members of the Clutter family, in a small farming community in Kansas. Capote began writing about the murders soon after they were reported, travelling to Kansas with his friend and fellow author, Harper Lee, eventually taking six years to complete his novel—although the killers, Richard Hickock and Perry Smith, were caught six weeks after the crime was perpetrated.
Generally considered to be one of the finest true crime novels ever published, In Cold Blood is a chilling tale and good example of ‘New Journalism’—a style of writing whereby the author writes the story while it is still developing in real life. Capote conducted thorough research, including interviewing both killers prior to their eventual execution, and the level of detail really shines through as he recounts the tale of Hickock and Wells who, having recently been paroled from the Kansas State Penitentiary, drove four hundred miles to the Clutter farm on the strength of—as it turned out—inaccurate intel from Hickock’s former cell-mate, who had worked for the Clutter family and had told him they kept a safe stuffed full of cash, ripe for the picking. In the end, the two left the scene with only a portable radio, a pair of binoculars and less than fifty dollars in cash. Capote’s style is eminently readable and draws the reader in, such that we become as eager to understand the kind of dastardly minds capable of committing such a raw, premediated crime. For fans of crime fiction, this is a must read!
Where to find it