[Review] In Cold Blood: A True Account of a Multiple Murder and Its Consequences by Truman Capote

Publisher and Publication Date: Vintage International Edition/Knopf Doubleday. 2012. First published in 1965.
Genre: Narrative nonfiction. True crime.
Pages: 352 printed pages.
Format: Paperback.
Source: Self-purchase.
Audience: Readers of true crime.
Rating: Very good.

Link for the book @ Amazon.

Link for the book @ Barnes and Noble.

Link for the book, which is a link to Penguin Random House: In Cold Blood.

Truman Capote. 1924-1984.

Capote is pronounced Kapotee.

Links on Truman Capote:



A less than 6-minute fascinating interview.


In the wee hours of the morning, Sunday, November 15, 1959, four members of the Clutter family were murdered in their home. They lived in a farming community, and near the town of Holcomb, Kansas.

Thanksgiving would be the following week.

The older two Clutter daughters did not live at home.

The family members were Herbert “Herb” Clutter a prominent farmer. Bonnie Fox Clutter, wife to Herb and the mother of their four children. Eveanna, Beverly, Nancy, and Kenyon. Only Nancy and Kenyon were living at home.

Nancy was 16 and Kenyon 15 at the time of their deaths.

The murderers were Perry Edward Smith and Richard “Dick” Eugene Hickock.

Truman Capote shares several things in the writing of this true crime story: short bios of the Clutter family members, longer bios of Smith and Hickock, the time leading up to the murders, the night of the murders is chronologically told, the following morning after the murders-how they were found and by whom, the criminal investigation, the capture and imprisonment of Smith and Hickock, the trial, the psych evaluations of both young men, the time spent on death row, their executions, and the aftermath of the murders for the neighbors and friends of the Clutter family as well as the families of Smith and Hickock.

In Cold Blood was first published in a series of articles in the New York Magazine in 1965. The book form of the story was published in 1966.

This link is to read various articles in the New York Times about Truman Capote and his work.

This link is to read a first part article written about the crime in the New York Magazine, from the September 25, 1965, issue.

My Thoughts:

I have a library book on articles from the 1960s that New York Magazine published. Of course, not all their articles are included, but those that are pivotal and reflect that decade. I’m currently halfway through it.

In this library book is an excerpt of In Cold Blood. It is from a later point in the book, when Smith and Hickock are in the small jail that housed them until after the trial. Reading this snippet whet my appetite to read the full story.

It’s been a few summers ago that I read several true crime nonfiction books. Those books are on the Golden State Killer, Charles Manson, the Zodiac killer, Ted Bundy, the BTK killer who is Dennis Rader, and Charles Manson. What I find the most fascinating is reading their psych profiles. The methodical and devious and vile and evil planning and murders are beyond difficult to read. It is not something I can wrap my mind around. They are books I don’t forget. They are troubling and menacing.

One of the scariest books I’ve read is written by a man who was working on his doctorate in criminal behavior. He worked in a lockdown unit of the facility that housed only those considered the most violent murderers. That book is frightening!

A problem I have with In Cold Blood is that I’ve read Capote’s story is not 100% accurate. Specifically, the portrayal of the mother of the Clutter family. This makes me wonder how many of the other true crime nonfiction books I’ve read that have inaccuracies.

I watched the film, Capote, that cast Philip Seymour as Capote. Capote’s interviews and research and writing of In Cold Blood is a big part of the film, but this film shares Capote’s relationship he had with Perry. It shares how this writing project impacted Capote. It is not a film only about the murders as is the book. There is a film that was made in 1967 that is titled In Cold Blood. It is considered accurate to the book.

The background story of In Cold Blood is a story itself. I’m referring to the research and writing of it. All the interviews Capote did. His writing project partner, Harper Lee. Going out to the house where the murders took place. The several years of work on it. The impact of this experience.

If you are a true crime reader, In Cold Blood is a necessary read. It is one of the first printed stories and films about true crime.

In most, if not all, the true crime books I’ve read, there is a heavy cloud of expectancy and anxiety about the stories of murders that take place in the books. A very interesting point about In Cold Blood is Capote’s writing style is both matter of fact and calm. Think about the word calm in reference to a book about serial killers, murders, and horror. It is hard to compute. This makes the book easy to read and yet hard to read. It is the later part of the book that dissects the murderers with psych evaluation results and the impact of the people.

The book is not about Capote’s relationship with the murderers.

Capote is the voice in the story unless he lets the people who were interviewed speak.

The last point I’d like to mention is I read that after In Cold Blood was published, and after Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird won a Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award, their relationship ended. Harper Lee was Capote’s assistant in research and interviewing for In Cold Blood. Capote dedicated the book to her and his partner, Jack Dunphy. He did not mention Lee in the Acknowledgements section.


[Review] Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

Publisher and Publication Date: Penguin Teen. 2019.
Genre: Historical fiction. Young adult.
Pages: 379.
Format: Paperback.
Source: Self-purchase.
Audience: Young adult readers to adult readers who enjoy reading historical fiction from World War II.
Rating: Excellent.

Link @ Amazon.

Link @ Audible.

Link @ Barnes and Noble.


It is January 1945. Several people are in route to the northern coast of Germany so they can escape the war and the approaching Russians. They are refugees.

The main characters are young adults. Most are in their teen years. It is a mix of young men and young women.

Each want to secure passage on the ship, Wilhelm Gustloff, it is a ship that will take them away from the harrowing life they’ve lived. The ship is a savior of sorts in their minds. It will take them to a new life.

My Thoughts:

As many World War II and Holocaust stories that I’ve read and I have not heard of this ship’s tragedy!

There are several elements I love about this story.

1. The form or structure is from the perspective and voice of four people. Each are given a chapter with their name as the heading. I enjoyed reading the overall story from the perspective of the four characters.

2. I’m reminded a bit of Hemingway’s writing style. He too wrote crisp and short sentences. And the dialogue is the mainstream of the story.

3. During the course of the characters sharing, I am told about their background. In most stories, the background and descriptions of the characters are shown in the beginning. In Salt to the Sea, I am given the background and descriptive information during the whole of the story. These things are revealed slowly but naturally.

4. It is a heavy story. It is heavy with feelings of fear, anxiety, weariness, angst, and moments of despair. These are people who have endured years of war. The trauma of what they’ve seen and personally experienced is imbedded in their hearts and minds and bodies. Their plight is what kept me reading. It is what drew me into the story at the first page.

5. The internal and external conflicts are extremely strong.

6. Even though the characters share a common goal to survive. It is interesting they are segregated by their ethnicity and heritage. This causes feelings of isolation and insecurity.

Do I have a favorite character among them? Joana. She is indispensable because of her nursing skills. I believe she is probably the most important character in the story. She is able to care for people despite their ethnicity which made her likable and heroic.

How does the story make me feel? War is a horrible event. It is not just the military who fight and are affected. The civilians are always impacted. Obviously, the Russians ignore The Geneva Conventions.

Themes: survival, war, bravery, courage, kindness, honesty, betrayal, death and dying, resistance, trust, grief, hope, injustice, suffering, romance, sacrifice, power of love, and good and evil.

(Review) Hamlet by William Shakespeare

Publisher and Publication Date: Yale University Press. 2003. First published 1603.
Genre: A tragedy in five acts. Play.
Pages: 249.
Format: Paperback.
Source: Self-purchase.
Audience: Classic readers. Readers of Shakespeare.
Rating: Excellent.

Hamlet is a tragedy in five acts.
I have read this a second time because of a historical fiction book: A Man of Honor by J.A. Nelson. It is also a tragedy read for The Classics Club challenge.

The original title: The Tragicall Historie of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark.

The play is available to read for free at MIT and The Folger Shakespeare.

To read more information:
Royal Shakespeare Company

Title page of 1605 printing.
Horatio, Hamlet, and the ghost. Artist is Henry Fuseli. 1789.


Denmark. Early 1500s. The royal house of Denmark.
Hamlet is the prince of Denmark. His father is King Hamlet. His mother is Gertrude. His father’s brother, Claudius, murdered King Hamlet. Claudius became king and married Gertrude.
A ghost appears to Hamlet. The ghost tells his story. Hamlet seeks revenge.

My Thoughts:

Hamlet is one of my three favorite tragedies of Shakespeare. The other two are Macbeth and Julius Caesar. I’ve read several others but these three are my favorites.

To read Hamlet is not the same as to “experience” the drama unfolding visually. To experience Hamlet is to take it all in with the senses.

I am not an actor, but it helps to read aloud the tragedies of Shakespeare. I feel the same way about poetry. Reading poetry aloud is better than to read it silently.

Several reasons why I love Hamlet:
1. Hamlet is absorbing, emotional, and evocative.
2. Hamlet is memorable because of the characters, dialogue, plot, conflicts, mood, and setting.
3. Hamlet requires thought. For example, some questions and thoughts I had while reading: Is Hamlet truly mad? The other characters seem to believe he is mad. They have conversations wondering if he is mad. Does Shakespeare want me to believe he is mad? Is this a distraction in Hamlet? Is this a ploy?
4. I feel empathy for some of the characters. However, I do not feel any of them are people I admire. They are not characters who I can say I love. They are certainly memorable.
5. The language of Shakespeare is sweet music to my mouth and ears.
6. I love several lines from Hamlet.
“Murder most foul, as in the best it is, But this most foul, strange and unnatural.” -Ghost. Page 43.
“Thus conscience does make cowards of us all,” –Hamlet. Page 98.
“Now cracks a noble heart. Good night sweet prince, And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest! Why does the drum come hither?” -Horatio. Page 225.