In Cold Blood


Author: Truman Capote

Title: In Cold Blood: a True Account of a Multiple Murder and Its Consequences

Genre: Non-fiction/True Crime

Publication Date: 1965

Number of Pages: 343

Geographical Setting: Holcomb, Kansas

Time Period: November 1959- April 1965

Plot Summary:  In November of 1959, The Clutter family, a prominent, wealthy household of four, were ruthlessly and senselessly murdered.  The story starts on the day of the murder, rightfully titled: The Last to See Them Alive.  It then goes to the two killers points of view describing their flee from Kansas, their childhoods, and their unfeeling emotions towards the crime that they committed.  Dewey, a detective on the case only has little evidence to lead on and the words of a convicted felon informing him that he heard a man talk about planning to rob and kill the Clutter family.  Will he be able to bring the two men to justice?

Subject Headings: True Crime, Clutter Family, Murder Investigation,

Appeal: evocative, descriptive, well-crafted, philosophical, flawed characters, journalistic, compelling, sobering, character-centered

3 terms that best describe this book: tragic, small-town, bleak

Similar Authors and Works:

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Portrait of a Killer: Jack the Ripper Case Closed by Patricia Cornwell

This story examines the case of Jack the Ripper and his serial killing that terrorized London in the 1880s.  Using forensic science, research, and insight into the criminal mind, she reveals the true identity of the infamous murderer.  Similar to In Cold Blood, it gives insight into the mind of a murderer.  (detailed, strong sense of place, compelling)

Death Sentence: the True Story of Velma Barfield’s Life, Crimes, and Execution by Jerry Bledsoe   

Bledsoe describes Barfield’s abusive and poverty-stricken childhood and how it led to her killing four people, two of them being her mother and boyfriend.  Similar to In Cold Blood, it discusses the past of a killer and how it lead up to the killings.  (bleak, disturbing, moving)

Helter Skelter: the True Story of the Manson Murders by Vincent Bugliosi

This is the inside story behind how Manson was able to make his “family” murder for him and how he was brought to justice. (gritty, descriptive, menacing)

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Capote in Kansas by Ande Parks

This Graphic novel tells the fictional story of the trip that Capote took to Kansas with Harper Lee to find out about the Clutter murders.  Similar to In Cold Blood, this novel looks at what it might have been like when Capote researched for his novel. (graphic novel, bleak, disturbing)

The Interpretation of Murder by Jed Rubenfeld

Freud is called to New York to analyze a hysterical woman who escaped an attack from a serial killer, but can remember nothing of the assault.  Similar to In Cold Blood, this story looks at the gritty aspects of a murderer. (gritty, detailed, complex characters)

A Mansion and Its Murder by Bernard Bastable

Sara Jane Fearing’s uncle mysteriously dies after marrying and producing a son.  50 years later, she recounts the scene and her childhood growing up with indifferent parents.  Similar to In Cold Blood, it is the retelling of a suspicious death in a rich family. (intricately plotted, detailed, atmospheric)

Name: Christina Freitag


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