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In Cold Blood by Truman Capote - Book Review

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In Cold Blood by Truman Capote - Book Review

Courtesy Vintage Books

The Bottom Line

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote is a nonfiction book about a multiple murder of a family in Kansas in 1959. Readers know the outcome of In Cold Blood from the start, yet Capote still manages to build suspense. More surprisingly, Capote creates sympathy for the murderers while letting readers in on all the horrible details of the crime. In Cold Blood is rightly a classic, but it may not appeal to everyone. The content is difficult and the reading is dense. In Cold Blood will make you think.


  • In Cold Blood feels more like fiction than journalistic nonfiction
  • Truman Capote provides a unique look at a true crime
  • Capote builds suspense and sympathy
  • In Cold Blood raises questions of good & evil, crime & punishment


  • Not everyone may be able to stomach the details of a multiple murder
  • In Cold Blood is dense - This is not beach reading


  • In Cold Blood by Truman Capote is the story of a family of four in Kansas, murdered by shotguns
  • The murderers had no apparent motive and left almost no clues
  • In Cold Blood details the crime, investigation, arrest and execution of the murderers
  • A unique look into the minds of the murderers and the different sides of a horrible event
  • In Cold Blood by Truman Capote reads like fiction, yet is a factual work

Book Review

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote is slow and detailed. Capote takes his time describing the people and places involved in the murder. Because Capote paces himself and uses so much detail, he creates a sort of suspense in In Cold Blood, like you might expect in a fiction novel.

Capote also allows different voices to tell the story, creating an intimacy between the readers and the murderers, the readers and the victims, and all the other players in this event--townspeople, investigators, friends of the family. This intimacy leads to sympathy, which can sometimes be disturbing. (How can I be so disgusted by this murder and yet still see the humanity in the murderers?)

In Cold Blood is an interesting study of crime and violence in America. The story is gripping. It is rightly a classic.

I would not, however, say that all people would enjoy In Cold Blood. (Enjoy, perhaps, is the wrong word -- I liked the book, but do not enjoy reading about a quadruple murder). I recommend In Cold Blood, but caution readers that it is not light reading.

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