Customer Reviews


180 Reviews
5 star:
 (135)
4 star:
 (27)
3 star:
 (10)
2 star:
 (4)
1 star:
 (4)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


46 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gruesome, captivating and tragic
This really is essential reading for everyone over the age of about 14. A classic. Truman Capote recounts the story of the murders of four members of the Clutter family, one November night in 1959, and provides details of the events leading up to the murders, what the killers (Dick and Perry) did whilst on the run, their arrest, trial and punishment. I real a lot of...
Published on 13 July 2006 by Mrs Miggins Pie Shoppe

versus
24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Truman Capote's defining work
This is part murder mystery, part psychological suspense thriller with an intricately unravelling plot that would leave fans of Michael Connelly or Patricia Cornwell quivering for more. But it is not fiction. Truman Capote literally created a genre with this book, the true account of a quadruple murder in Kansas that shocked the nation. In another author's hand, this...
Published on 14 Mar 2007 by Sam J. Ruddock


‹ Previous | 1 2 318 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

42 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Capote's Masterpiece, 18 Feb 2005
By 
Dennis Phillips "The Book Friar" (Bulls Gap, Tennessee USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
While reading this book one must keep in mind that Truman Capote had two very distinct objects in mind as he worked on this project. First, he wanted to write a Nonfiction Novel and in that area he has succeeded marvelously. Many critics have in fact proclaimed this to be Capote's best work. The author's other intent was to make a statement against the death penalty, an object in which he is less successful.
Capote could not have picked a better case to write a novel about but he could hardly have found two condemned men who would illicit less sympathy. My own faith inclines me to oppose the death penalty but I would be hard pressed to stick to my convictions in this case. The crimes perpetrated by these two were of the worst kind and no matter their backgrounds I could muster little sympathy for either of them. Fortunately, Capote spends relatively little time overtly pleading his political case and the novel is not harmed much in this effort.
The novel itself is nothing short of a masterpiece and will keep the reader on the edge of their seat for almost it's entire length. Capote begins what is probably the first True Crime Novel by introducing the reader to both the Clutter family (the intended victims) and Perry Smith and Dick Hickock (the killers) along with the small Kansas town where the crime would take place. The reader follows the Clutter clan as they live their normal lives in the days before their murder and also rides along as Smith and Hickock plan their crime. From there, one rides the roller coaster through the crime, it's discovery, the getaway, the investigation, and the capture, trial, and execution of the perpetrators. Capote weaves his story in such a masterful manner that there will be times when the reader gets completely caught up in the story just as if he/she were there. While reading this book you will become very aware of every little noise outside your house so it may be better to read it during daylight hours.
I would advise anyone who likes Crime Novels or just good novels to put this book near the top of their to read list. The story is disturbing and a little graphic in places but this is the work of a master wordsmith and he has done his job well. This book deserves to be placed much higher than it is in the pantheon of great works of literature.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Who is guilty here?, 9 Feb 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: In Cold Blood: A True Account of a Multiple Murder and its Consequences (Essential Penguin) (Paperback)
Of all the characters described or depicted here, perhaps the one that makes the most sense is the wife of the sherrif in the town in which the two young men are being tried. She is the one who speaks of the accused as a real person, the only one that sees him as something other than someone who has committed a crime. She appreciates that although clearly touched (for an indefinable period) by malign and dark forces, inside there is the mind and heart of a confused and uncertain young man.
Without wishing to ignore the suffering of the victims and their relations, this book in my view brilliantly exmplifies the phenomenon of a stronger character mananging to convince another more vulneracble character to commit a crime. The motives are no diferent from crime for generations, the lure of money but there hangs the suspicion that they derived a certain thrill or even satsfaction from taking the lives of four people.
But what purpose does it serve by sending these people to the chair? None. I am writng this without the aid of the book at my elbow, but throughout the book i was struck by the total disregard the criminal justice system had for these people who were clearly victims in their own ways. Neither of them have had stable backgrounds but one of them is acknowledged by those who meet him as a lovable and warm hearted boy. An Indian man tracks through the rain for a week without shoes to testify on his part. These two have no idea how to live in the society in which they find themselves without support. They live by lying and passing off fake cheques, they are on a road to ruin anyway,does that mean we should just cut short their unhappy lives? Surely the measure of a civilised society is how it treats those outsiders, on this count the state of Kansas is pretty barbaric.
I realise that i have not mentioned the Clutters at all, the family we meet early on knowing that they are doomed to die horribly. But they are not really fundamental to the story in my opinion, however closely they might be described. The father is a hard working no nonsense say your prayers and eat your greens kind of guy and the daughter is almost too good to be true or credible (no reason to suggest she isn't, though). The mother, however, is interesting as she feels alienated from the life and the family. This sense of perceived estrangement from her own makes her death mopre poignant. She does not appear to have expected much more out of life anyway.
This is a terrific book which carries one along, whatever reaction it provokes.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Terrifyingly Magnificent., 8 Sep 2007
By 
maya j (Quail Crossing) - See all my reviews
'In Cold Blood' is one of the best books of all time. It should be required reading in all beginning college lit courses, if not in high school. I first read 'In Cold Blood' in high school (in the 80s), and I read it in one sitting- straight through the night- just because I couldn't put it down. I have recently purchased this newer edition, because this book is worth reading again.

To begin with, Truman Capote, for all his notoriety, was an incredible writer, and this book is one of his finest. The gritty and depressing existence of Dick and Perry that leads up to one terrifying night in Kansas is so vividly represented, you feel all the more frightened as you are reading it, because it seems you have become witness to the absolute terror and brutality perpetrated on an innocent family by these two men. Truman Capote not only presents in graphic detail the terror of this night, but he also reveals the personalities of Dick and Perry in such a way that, even though they are despicable human beings, you may feel a twinge of sorrow for them. The birth of each man's anger, and the inability of either one of them to integrate into society, was formed in childhoods of abuse. It truly is amazing how Capote got inside the heads of these pathetic men, capturing the pervasive sadness and despair, bizarrely coupled with hope for a "normal" future. The relationship of Dick and Perry is almost a symbiotic one. Separately, they may not have done what they did, but together, they are lethal. The gullibility of a person, who never felt like he belonged, combined with another person who thinks he needs to exact revenge on society- it's a sick combination of pack mentality and ignorance. Eventually, all of this culminates into a night of terror in Kansas wrought by these two men. The portrayal is so graphic in nature; no one could read it without being rendered silently stunned by the terror of it all. The sadness felt for this totally unsuspecting and wholly innocent family is overwhelming. Certainly there have been similar crimes, but the representation of it by Capote, and the intrinsic knowledge of these two men, makes you feel you had a front row view of the whole thing.

`In Cold Blood' is less about the particulars of that awful crime one terrifying night in Kansas; it is more about the insidiousness of what childhood abuse and feeling disenfranchised can do to a person. It would be easy to focus on the terror and sadness of this massacre, but the brilliance of Capote is that the focus is placed on the murderers and trying to engender compassion from the reader for them. With Capote's vision in writing, he almost gets us there. After the capture and imprisonment of these two men, you can physically feel the fear in their hearts for their own condemnation. Perry's fear of execution is especially haunting. This book is a must read for anyone who likes to read and makes no difference that it was written 40 years ago. It transcends all genres, because even though the story is terrifying, the writing is phenomenal, and you will NEVER forget it.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Deeply disturbing (but in a good way!), 27 July 2007
It is difficult to argue that this book is not an incredibly powerful piece of work. A valid argument against it may be that it is not, in the truest sense of the word, 'literature'. It's an accurate, detailed account of events which actually happened. With this in mind, it is possible to read the book as an extended article of journalism rather than as a novel.
However, this would be missing the point somewhat. Yes, the book is non-fiction. Yes, it sometimes lingers for long passages on minute technical details - of either the crime itself, or the police investigation. And yes, knowledge that Capote, in his help with the convicted killer's appeals, played an active role in the story himself (albeit unmentioned in his book) lends a slightly surreal aspect to the work. But these points are simply dwarfed by the massive waves of emotion which run throughout the story.
The ironic thing is that Capote brilliantly creates this emotional reponse by writing in a very deliberate, very cold, very un-emotional style. He presents the story to us just the way it happened, fact layered upon fact. It is between these layers that we find the true heart of the book. Hidden in these places are the tragic circumstances that drove Perry and Dick to become men capable of not only committing murder, but of doing so and carrying on their lives seemingly without remorse.
Capote presents only factual events, gleaned from his meticulous research into the case and extensive interviews with those involved. The fact that these events are true makes it all the more unsettling when, as readers, we realise that our sympathies are with the killers. We find ourselves questioning our own perception of ourselves, and our fundamental taken-for-granted values of right and wrong. Indeed, Capote's detached matter-of-fact prose makes us question the very validity of such concepts as "right" and "wrong".
Therefore, the debate as to whether this book is "literature" or "journalism" isn't important. What is important is that this work is one of the most disturbing things you could ever read. Put simply, it will haunt you. It will dig uncomfortably under your skin, and stay there. And, factual or not, that is exactly what good "literature" should do.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A thought provoking and thrilling read, 25 July 2004
By A Customer
This book is startling for two reasons - both for the graphic realism in which Capote describes the killings and perhaps more profoundly for the way in which he describes the thoughts, feelings and actions of the killers themselves. However it would be naive to suggest that Capote through 'humanising' the perpetrators of these crimes, in effect lessens the gravity of their actions and allows the reader to 'understand' and even sympathise with them. To claim this is to misunderstand the books message. Rather it is a poignant questioning of the American justice system itself and the moral implications of 'taking a life for a life.' The fact that describing the lives of Smith and Hickock doesnt really affect the way one views the murders is important - for as the criminals themselves claim, the victims could almost have been anyone, and it is the motiveless nature of the crime that eventually becomes the subject of the books final chapter. It is significant that Capote spends time analysing the fact that the criminals were very likely suffering from the early stages of severe mental illness and yet the Kansas justice system at the time refused to allow further inverstigation into this. One of the questions Capote seems to provoke is, on what basis is capital punishment performed? Does it stop crime? And indeed if it merely punishes those who are too sick and disfunctional to be affected by such a penalty - what difference does it make anyway?
All in all this is a fantastic book - the prose flitting between an immedeate journalistic prose and a subtler, darker poetic style that creates a suitably morose atmosphere to this sometimes bleak book - it is exciting and I found myself reading on just to see what happens - however at its root is a deep question about human nature and human justice and whilst reading it is important not to lose sight of just why this novel generated such controversy upon its release in 1965.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Truman Capote's defining work, 14 Mar 2007
By 
Sam J. Ruddock (Norwich, England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This is part murder mystery, part psychological suspense thriller with an intricately unravelling plot that would leave fans of Michael Connelly or Patricia Cornwell quivering for more. But it is not fiction. Truman Capote literally created a genre with this book, the true account of a quadruple murder in Kansas that shocked the nation. In another author's hand, this subject could degenerate into a red-blooded witch-hunt, but Truman Capote is too good for that. He is the king of sympathy, where others see good and bad, he sees individuals and intertwining stories of tragedy. He is able to seamlessly blend touchable characters with adroit observation's and brilliant one-liners. And it is neither macabre, nor gruesome, but rather a glorious investigation into human weakness. Read this book, it is hard to describe why it is so good, but it is.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Everyone Should Read This Book, 17 Dec 2008
As a teenager in the 1960's, this book had a profound effect on me. I had never read anything like it and I have never again found a 'true crime' book that can live up to this one, in terms of the quality of writing and the emotional impact.

We now know that Truman Capote became emotionally and personally invoved with Perry Smith, one of the murderers. That actually allows m to now read the book with a different perspective.

Most poignant to me
. is that this is the first time I have actually seen a photo of the Clutter family....In the 60's, the book had no photos of the Clutters or Smith and Hickock. When I first read the book I so wanted to see what the fanily looked like - especially Nancy - but now seeing the photos, I realise that Capote dscribed all the characters SO well... and all were as I pictured them in my mind.

This is a book that I would urge everyone to read. Capote was a skilled writer and this is one of his best.

It's a beautifully written book about the horrific murder of a family in a small community and the effect it has on all the people around them. It's also about their killers - right up to the point of their execution.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Chilling real life murder, 29 Jan 2003
This review is from: In Cold Blood: A True Account of a Multiple Murder and its Consequences (Essential Penguin) (Paperback)
This differs completely from Capote's other famous work Breakfast At Tiffany's and is as dark in tone as the other is playful. It must be the best of "real life" crime books and spawned a genre that includes such books as Burn's Happy Like Murderers or Sereny's The Story Of Mary Bell. But ICB eclipses these more recent attempts through Capote's style that refuses to sentimentalise but shows the players in the crime as real people. The murderers are shown to be unpleasant men, not devils or divorced from reason- the realization that such people may be living in any society unknown to the rest of us is what makes this book so sinister.
Capote, fortunately, does no overstate the violence or in any way glamorise it. What the end leaves us with is the monumental sense of life wasted- both of those killed, those left behind and those who perpetrated the murders.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Journalism meets the crime novel, 23 July 2006
By 
I. D. Miller "ian_miller6" (Solihull) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I really hadn't a clue what to expect regarding this book. I bought it on the back of the recent film of its making, and while I hadn't seen the film either, I heard about the book and was interested in its storyline.

It tells of the pointless, brutal murder of a wealthy US farmer in the late 50's seen through the eyes of his local community and the two murderers. It reads as a novel and yet is a form of reportage used in many factual crime books since.

What chills more than anything is the different background of the two murderers. One was from a problem background and was almost destined to have a life involved in crime. The other came from a stable family home, but turned out "just plain bad". Their matter of fact view of the murders after they committed them, and their lack of any sense of the enormity of their crimes is something I will remember for a long time.

A sad, morbid story, but a classic book.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Man Obsessed, 6 April 2009
By 
Miss T. C. Murphy (London) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
A chilling, ironically life-affirming tale of motiveless murder based on real events. Written in journalistic detail and without prejudice - the latter quite a feat for Capote - the fascination of the author translates very easily when read, and to powerful effect. Capote himself was unable to accept or explain his human empathy for the killers, and was never to write again. I was left feeling humbled by the demise of the killers, which became parallelled with that of the author: one written, the other between the lines.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 2 318 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

In Cold Blood: A True Account of a Multiple Murder and its Consequences (Essential Penguin)
£8.77
Usually dispatched within 9 to 13 days
Add to basket Add to wishlist
Only search this product's reviews