In Cold Blood is a non-fiction novel. It was written by Truman Capote and published in 1966. It has been praised for its narrative and detailed descriptions and it was considered to be the first work in the “true crime” genre. However, some critics claim that some important events and details had been altered for dramatic effect.
In the novel Truman Capote writes about the murders of the members of the Clutter family in Holcomb, Kansas in November, 1959. When he learned of the murder, Capote decided to travel to Holcomb before the killers were arrested and to write about the case.
He interviewed the local people as well as the murderers Dick Hickock and Perry Smith and consequently created an artistic narrative of the case.
Book Summary-In Cold Blood
The Last to See Them Alive
The novel starts on the day of the murder. The family lived on the farm River Valley in a small town Holcomb in Kansas. The head of the family was Herbert Clutter. On 14 November, 1959 Herbert wakes up early and starts his work on the farm as usually.
His teenage daughter Nancy is woken by a phone call. Her friend asks her to teach her to make a cherry pie. Her friend Susan also calls and they talk about Nancy’s date with Bobby the previous night.
On the other side of the state, two friends and former prisoners Perry Smith and Dick Hickock are preparing for a ride in a black Cadillac.
Herbert’s wife Bonnie speaks with Nancy’s friend Jolene and goes to bed.
Perry is a very muscular man, but he injured his legs in a motorcycle accident and Dick is short and strong.
The author describes the scenes in such a way that he builds up the suspense and portrays the village life from a big city resident’s point of view.
On their way to the farm, Perry and Dick buy rope and rubber gloves. Perry suggests buying women’s stockings to conceal their identity, but Dick disagrees because he is planning to kill everybody.
Kenyon Clutter is Herbert’s son, also a teenager. He likes mechanic and construction work. He is building his sister a hope chest in the basement and later speaks to Mr Heelms, a housekeeper’s husband.
Dick and Perry stop to buy the stockings, but they want black ones. Perry wants to meet his cellmate Willie-Jay who was a kind of religious advisor to him.