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40 of 40 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

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21 of 23 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


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40 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gruesome, captivating and tragic, 13 July 2006
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 books, but this is one of the best I've ever read and I couldn't put it down - despite knowing it doesn't have a happy ending for anyone, I wanted to know what actually happened to the Clutters and why. This book doesn't try to psychoanalyse murders - it tells the story in a factual way, but written like a novel, and it is fantastic, gruesome and tragic because it's true. Six people died as a result of that night - let Truman tell you how.
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57 of 58 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A genuine classic, 26 July 2006
This is one of these books that everyone tells you is a classic. Personally speaking, that sort of recommendation always puts me off, but having seen and loved the film "Capote" I thought I should give the book a go and boy, am I glad I did!

The story is a harrowing one, and in the hands of a less skilled writer its telling could have become overwrought. Capote's greatest skill is his ability to keep his emotions in check, avoiding making judgements, just telling the facts as best he can and as a result allowing all of his characters to come to life on the page. The Clutter family are not canonized, but instead shown as real people, all with their own problems, hopes and fears. Smith and Hickock, though never excused by Capote, are shown as three dimensional, flawed human beings rather than two dimensional monsters.

Reading this book was an emotional experience. You are left feeling sad and shocked, yet with a sense of hope. It is a book that will stay with me for a long time and one that truly deserves to be called a classic.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars In Cold Type..., 24 Mar 2006
By 
Kurt Messick "FrKurt Messick" (London, SW1) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
Truman Capote's 'In Cold Blood' is enjoying a resurgence of popularity thanks to the Oscar-winning film depicting the author's life and work during the writing of this phenomenal piece. At one point in the film, the character Capote makes the statement that when he thinks about how good this book will be, he can hardly breathe. Perhaps it is because it is part of our history now, I don't consider the book to be that good, but it was a work fairly close to groundbreaking in its impact - it was a new genre, the narrative telling of a non-fiction event as if it were a fictional novel.
The narrative centres upon the murder of a Kansas family by two men, Perry Smith and Dick Hicock, who are in many ways far from typical killers, much less cold blooded killers. The family, the Clutters of Holcombe, Kansas, are far from typical victims, nor is this the kind of place such a murder would be expected. Capote does a remarkable job at an even-handed analysis and narrative treatment of all the characters, from the family itself to the townspeople and investigators, as well as the murderers themselves. Perhaps it is because he found an area of identification?
This is a psychological thriller of a sort - at least it would be, were it not a true life tale. Getting into the minds of the criminals and the investigators was no easy task for Capote, but what comes forth on the page is very crisp and insightful reporting, without the kinds of embellishments one might expect from a figure such as Capote when dealing with middle-America folk.
The question of why for the killing is still never fully resolved, despite Capote's attempt to set out all the story and psychological detail. Perhaps this is as strange as the interest Capote took in the subject in the first place, as well as the effect it had on him, and those around him, ultimately - while Capote himself never again finished a major project after this, that is also true of his assistant, Nell Harper Lee, whose book 'To Kill a Mockingbird' (done about the same time as 'In Cold Blood') was also her last major writing.
A worthwhile book in many ways.
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39 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Shocking, chilling and gruesomely voyeuristic, 16 Mar 2006
This review is from: In Cold Blood : A True Account of a Multiple Murder and Its Consequences (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
Hard to believe that this book was written by the same author who wrote "Breakfast at Tiffany's" but it was. Capote takes you right into the mind of a murderer and tracks the whole desolate affair from the deed itself through to punishment.
It's one of those great books where you are barely conscious of reading the thing. Ideas, events, emotions and images pass in front of you in all their horrifying clarity. A lot of people will come to this novel as a result of the recent movie Capote and may approach it armed with the experience of seeing many films that portray serial killers. But when this book was written in the early 60's, close scrutiny of murder and murderers was both shocking and very disturbing to the reading public.
While the impact of the novel may be reduced to 21st century readers jaded by violence, the quality, incisiveness and skill of Capote's writing conveys the detail, mechanics and mental state of a murderer in a way that has never been surpassed. A masterpiece.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A unputdown-able book, 3 Aug 2006
By 
Rachel Clark (Bristol, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: In Cold Blood : A True Account of a Multiple Murder and Its Consequences (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
Like many others, I came across this book after seeing the film 'Capote'. It's such a good book that I just couldn't put it down. At the same time I really didn't want it to end, purely because of the superb quality of the writing and the knowledge that a book this good only comes along now and again. Capote draws you in and immerses you in the parallel worlds of the Clutters and their murderers Hicock and Smith. It's a credit to Capote that a book published in 1966 about four gruesome murders that took place in small town America in 1959 and where we know who did it and what the final outcome was, can still hold such a powerful sway today.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars American crime story at it's best., 27 Nov 2001
By A Customer
The story, which is actually the account of a real crime, is written in the style that I imagine a film would be set. Truman Capote opens by quietly setting the scene, taking us through the seasons in the life of a sleepy little prairie town in Kansas, while gradually moving the focus towards both the Clutter family and elsewhere to their executioners. The Clutters are the good, upstanding, clever and attractive family with whom Capote manages to imbue an air of invincibility and strength, putting doubts on the reader's early assumption that they will become the victims of the horrendous and senseless crime which is beginning to unfold just one day's drive away over the dusty yellow Kansas landscape. The perpetrators are two hapless, pathetic figures, whose twisted logic and lack of affinity to reality, disguises their not inconsiderable intellect. In each case, they are brought up in an environment of loveless-ness, poverty and mistrust which leads them to a life of petty crime then prison and the subsequent nurturing of a pathological disregard for the basic rules of society. Despite the incredible cruelty and pointlessness of the crime, Capote manages to provoke the reader, not without a little help from the 'lynch-mob' mentality of the judicial system in Kansas, into strong feelings of pity for the accused, with their 'half-breed and misfit' tags that marked them out as victims long before that fateful day.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sometimes the hype is justified, 15 Mar 2006
By 
I. Curry "IDC" (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: In Cold Blood : A True Account of a Multiple Murder and Its Consequences (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
A great work of narrative non-fiction should be evocative, factually sound and draw you into a world that almost makes you forget your own. 'In Cold Blood' ticks all of these boxes. The Oscar winning film, Capote, covers the laboured, difficult months of the book's original conception and completion. But don't just watch the film. This only gives a sketch of the complexity that unfolds with each page. The book remains highly relevant to our times, touching on themes which are still topical and divisive. And more importantly the book has a profound effect on the reader.
I wish I could say that I had come across this book a long time ago, and am merely recounting the review for the benefit of the new readers who are drawn to it from the film. But the truth is I had no idea of its existence prior to seeing the first trailer. That Capote was a contemporary and often seen as the better of Vidal Gore struck me, as in my mind Gore was well known, and Capote was completely new. But I am extremely thankful to the film for introducing me to this work.
In Cold Blood marks something of an apogee, the successful synthesis of excellence in narrative and mastery of journalism. It is a novel woven with the threads of fact to create a new genre. Although attempted before, here it reaches its true peak of accomplishment. 'In Cold Blood' is the story of a mass killing, the slaughter of an innocent family. It is the story that expands from the original news clipping that so excited Capote's interest, and envelops and involves the reader like very few books.
As an avid reader, and sometime writer, of narrative history, this can be regarded as a benchmark for future endeavour. The journalistic excellence is marked by the time Capote spent in the town, in Kansas, with the killers, with the police and investigators. In short Capote immersed himself in to the world, and cupped out the truth, spilling it onto the page with a literary flourish that draws the reader and immerses them into the same world. The town of Holcomb is no longer a hicksville stop on the Sante Fe express, but a real place filled with recognisable personalities. The predilections and peccadilloes of the townspeople render them as realistic as the people we pass everyday on the street. In short Holcomb becomes familiar and known to the reader.
The Clutter family is dissected with almost clinical precision, so that their characteristics, their personalities, shine through. Their ultimate fate is always hanging over these horrifyingly vivid descriptions, an ominous, portentous gloom that penetrates every page, and keeps the book moving with a pace and gripping interest. But the most horrifyingly drawing of all the aspects is the recreation of the capture, incarceration, trial and ultimate death of the killers, Perry Smith and Dick Hickock. Capote's relationship with the killers, Dick in particular, makes the ultimate, and inevitable, ending all the more tragic.
This is a book for anyone who appreciates writing and English as an art form. It is the brilliant, wonderful synthesis of so many crafts, and Capote shows that he is the master of them all. Anyone who has an interest in reading history, biography or true crime should also make sure this book takes its rightful place at the top of their 'to buy' list - it is simply the best of its kind, rivalled but still unbeaten.
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41 of 44 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
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This review is from: In Cold Blood : A True Account of a Multiple Murder and Its Consequences (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
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.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Journalism at its best., 19 Dec 2001
By A Customer
This book is fascinating on so many levels: whether you interested in the crime element, the psychology of murder, or Truman Capote's wonderful, wonderful prose, you have to read this book. I keep buying this book for friends - I must have bought at least 10 copies. It just proves what a versatile writer Capote could be. This is book is journalism at its best: good, solid, thorough investigation. Read more about Capote's meetings with the Clutter murderers in 'The Filming of In Cold Blood' in A Capote Reader.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Disturbing, 15 May 2006
By 
Mr. D. J. Read (Alnwick, Northumberland United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: In Cold Blood : A True Account of a Multiple Murder and Its Consequences (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
Quite simply, this book affects the reader on a moral level. There are some disturbing moments, which defy the convention that blood and gore are mandatory to achieve that end. Capote uses cunning prose, and truly invloves the reader by taking you deep into the mind of the killers, and before this, deep into the heart of the family, that one already knows are to be slain.

The scene of the discovery of the bodies and the retrospective account of Smith are especially disturbing, as is Dick's utter disregard for human life (illustrated during the hitchhiking scene), but then we see the conditions and politics surrounding death row, and actually sympathise with the killers, especially as 'The Corner' looms ever closer.

It is through Perrys eyes and experiences that touches one the most. Sure, his life was hard, and there is some talk of a mental condition that places him in a trance like state during the killings, but it almost seems that he could have grown into a respectable citizen, were it not for incidents in his past and the schemings of Dick.

Buy this book, for a truly moving experience.
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