In Cold Blood by Truman Capote and a Thank You

Recently I read Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. One of the reviewers said Midnight was as good or maybe better than In Cold Blood. I felt rather silly since I’ve never read Capote’s book. I was surprised that this work is on my 1001 list since most of the books are fiction, but hey, who cares. Many refer to this book as a non-fiction novel, which is a genre that mixes historical facts and events with fabricated accusations. Either way it works for me. One more off the 1001 list!

In Cold Blood, published in 1966, recounts the vicious murder of the Clutter family in Holcomb, Kansas. The murder occurred in 1959. Before the killers were arrested Truman Capote was already fascinated by the event. When he heard of the incident he headed to Kansas to write about the crime. Nelle Harper Lee, author of To Kill a Mockingbird, joined him. They interviewed the residents and those involved in the investigation. Six weeks after the murders, the killers were arrested. I’ve heard that Capote’s notes fills thousands of pages. It shows in the book. Capote didn’t rush his book and finished it six years after that horrible night in Holcomb.

What I liked about Midnight was the quirky residents of Savannah. So when I started In Cold Blood I thought I would be disappointed. I don’t associate Kansas with quirky. I could be wrong. I’ve only driven through the state once so I’m not too familiar with it. However, since I hadn’t read Capote’s book I thought now’s as good a time as any. What I didn’t expect was to be hooked from the first page. The first day I picked up the book was a Sunday. I zipped through 100 pages. Unfortunately my reading during the work week is limited so it took me another week to finish the book. I was reading it whenever I got the chance, including the bathroom. I was right, I didn’t meet too many, if any, quirky characters. But the murder and the days after were almost hypnotic. I can’t imagine the fear the family felt. And then the manhunt. Even though I knew the police actually apprehended the killers, I thought for sure they wouldn’t catch them when I was reading the book.

And I had a hard time wrapping my mind around the fact that this happened in Kansas in the fifties. Too often we hear about senseless murders now. But to think that the killers massacred a family in 1959 is hard to fathom. When I think of this era I think of “I Love Lucy” and “Leave it to Beaver.” I don’t think of quadruple murders in the Mid-West.

The killers, Richard “Dick” Hickock and Perry Edward Smith, drove me batty. Sometimes I felt sorry for them. Other times I thought hey maybe they didn’t do it, they seem kinda nice. Other times I hated them. It goes to show that you never know about the people you meet in this world. That’s terrifying.

I didn’t expect to enjoy this book. But I did. His writing is superb and the story is captivating. But after reading this and A Clockwork Orange before it I need a break from murders. Currently I’m reading Madame Bovary and those characters are giving me fits.

Before I go I want to give a shout out to Empty Nest, Full Stomachs. This blog chronicles the cooking adventures of two single mothers. They have been friends for more than 20 years. Since the kids are in college they are spending time together cooking fabulous meals. And they try to make all of their own stuff from scratch. I have learned much from them, including how to bid at a produce market. I didn’t know they had produce markets with an auctioneers. How cool is that!

Yesterday I popped over to their blog to see what they have been up to and I was surprised to see that they had written a post titled: Congratulations from the Empty Nest . They mentioned my blog, the 50 Year Project and the fact that I published my first novel. It was so sweet and thoughtful. Word of mouth is crucial for every writer. Seriously, every review, blog post, mention, and smoke signal (please don’t burn anything down) about the book helps me tremendously. Denise and Sandy thank you very much.


About TBM

TB Markinson is an American who's recently returned to the US after a seven-year stint in the UK and Ireland. When she isn't writing, she's traveling the world, watching sports on the telly, visiting pubs in New England, or reading. Not necessarily in that order. Her novels have hit Amazon bestseller lists for lesbian fiction and lesbian romance. She cohosts the Lesbians Who Write Podcast ( with Clare Lydon. TB also runs I Heart Lesfic (, a place for authors and fans of lesfic to come together to celebrate lesbian fiction.
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37 Responses to In Cold Blood by Truman Capote and a Thank You

  1. Sounds an intriguing book – will have to get it out of the library next time I am in England. Do hope all is going well with your book!

  2. bulldog says:

    Now you have tweeked my interest in the book… I’ll have to go and look for it…

    • TBM says:

      I hope you find it. A chilling read.

      • bulldog says:

        Thanks for the intro to “empty nest full stomachs” I read a few of their posts till I found the GMO post and maybe over commented there… wrote the proverbial book, but I am now following them, as I love anything that can expand my girth…

      • TBM says:

        My pleasure, bulldog. And I’m with you, I love to expand my girth as well. Will have to check out the GMO post and your comments.

  3. I liked the quirky characters in ‘Midnight’ but it was far inferior to Capote’s classic. 🙂

    • TBM says:

      It’s hard for me to compare the two. yes, both are about murder, but each writer took a different approach to telling the story.

  4. Geoff W says:

    I’m so glad you enjoyed it! I love how Capote writes about (and to) the misfits! His greatest works focus around the misunderstood or those who don’t want to be understood. I also can’t wait to hear what you have to say about Madame Bovary. I’ll have to reread my response when you post yours so that I can refresh my memory.

  5. in cold blood is on my list of books to buy as soon as i come across it used in a local shop. you’d think it would show up eventually, but i haven’t seen it yet. the combination of author and subject matter intrigued me.

    ah, madam bovary lol. you just wanna slap ’em, don’t you?

    • TBM says:

      I found my copy in a used bookshop a few weeks ago so maybe your luck will change soon. I hope so. And yes, I would love to slap some of the characters in Madame Bovary!

  6. Melly says:

    I had never considered reading this book, but you have peaked my interest. Maybe I’ll pick it up after I finish this one book I reading, it’s by this great new writer about a woman finding what is most important to her and what really matters…perhaps you’ve heard of her 😉

  7. hermanchad says:

    If you really liked In Cold Blood…Breakfast at Tiffanys is also great and probably in the list. One of the reasons its on that list is because it was the 1st.time anyone ever.did the genre! It was recolutionary.

    • TBM says:

      Revolutionary is right. And I love that it’s on the list. And I think you’re right, Breakfast at Tiffany’s is on it as well. I really want to read that one, but I suspect that it’s quite different. I love the movie!

  8. Carol says:

    I haven’t read In Cold Blood, but I feel like it’s one I should get to sooner rather than later. Glad you enjoyed it.

  9. I may have to read In Cold Blood after all these years. I can handle one murder in a book, but an entire family? Yikes.
    I wonder if Harper Lee contributed to the writing at all?

    • TBM says:

      The family murder is hard to read. And good question about Lee. I wonder if she did or I’m assuming she read drafts and had some input, but I could be off base.

      • Caroline says:

        You have to watch the movie Capote, it’s all about this book.
        Yes Lee did help quite a bit.

      • TBM says:

        I think I saw the movie when it came out, but I zero memory of it. Will have to watch it again soon while this is still fresh in my mind. However, it might be hard to forget it now.

  10. pattisj says:

    I was going to get “In Cold Blood” from the library, but it was out. They did have an eBook by Truman Capote, “Portraits and Observations.” We bought the movie “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” when we visited Savannah a couple years ago.

    • TBM says:

      After reading Midnight it was so hard not to book a flight to Savannah. I can’t wait to go! Haven’t read Portraits and Observations. if you read it, let me know if you like it.

  11. Caroline says:

    I want to read Capote but not this although I know many people like it a lot.

  12. Pingback: TBR Thursday… | FictionFan's Book Reviews

  13. Madhu says:

    Heven’t read it either. Shall get a copy right away. I obviously missed your posts on your new novel……belated congratulations TBM, and good luck with the promotion 🙂

  14. Vishy says:

    Wonderful review, TBM. I haven’t read this book, mostly because it is about actual violence, but from your review it looks like a wonderful book. It is interesting to know that it reads like a thriller and Capote’s writing is great. I have read one Capote book ‘Summer Crossing’. I hope to read ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ sometime.

    Thanks for telling us about ‘Empty Nest, Full Stomachs’. It looks like a wonderful blog. One thing I learnt from that post was that there are so many different kinds of tomatoes! My favourite sentence from that post that you have linked is this – “She’s what my grandmother used to call a “gem” 🙂 I think most of your readers and blog-friends will agree with that.

    • TBM says:

      Ah, thanks, Vishy. All of you are so kind. I didn’t know there were that many tomatoes either. They always impress me with how much they do and know.

      The violence was difficult to stomach in this one, but the story, manhunt, and writing made it worthwhile. Hope you enjoy Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

  15. thank you so much for your kind words. they mean a lot to us. i think i mentioned this before but berendt’s book on venice is excellent as well-City of Fallen Angels. if you plan on going to Venice, it’s a great read and will give a sense of the real city and the people who live there.

    • TBM says:

      Thanks! I’ll keep an eye out when I’m in used bookshops. I love finding books on places, of course they always make me want to go there right away.

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