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Publisher's Summary

On November 15, 1959, in the small town of Holcomb, Kansas, four members of the Clutter family were savagely murdered by blasts from a shotgun held a few inches from their faces. There was no apparent motive for the crime, and there were almost no clues.

As Truman Capote reconstructs the murder and the investigation that led to the capture, trial, and execution of the killers, he generates both mesmerizing suspense and astonishing empathy. In Cold Blood is a work that transcends its moment, yielding poignant insights into the nature of American violence.

©1965 Truman Capote (P)2006 Random House, Inc. Random House Audio, a division of Random House, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"The resulting chronicle is a masterpiece, agonizing, terrible, possessed, proof that the times, so surfeited with disasters, are still capable of tragedy." (The New York Times Book Review)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings


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You will feel as if you knew the killers...

STORY (true crime) - In Cold Blood takes place in the late 1950's and early '60's. It is the story of two young hoodlums (Dick and Perry) who travel to a small rural town in Kansas to commit a robbery. They end up brutally murdering an entire family. Husband, wife, teenaged son and daughter - gone. And for no apparent reason. You will "get into the heads" of the murderers as they plan the crime, travel to the scene and actually commit the murders, and you will learn how they think and what drives them. The killings occur early in the story, with the rest of the book dedicated to following Dick and Perry as they flee and as the police try to apprehend them. As the story unfolds, the details of the crime are revealed, and you will learn how Dick and Perry's childhoods shaped them into the young murderers they became. Don't want to give anything away, but you will also learn what ultimately happens to them.

The story is very well-written and reads like fiction as opposed to a true crime documentary. There's mystery and suspense, but the story is very character-driven so don't expect any fancy detective work or thrilling chase scenes. I very much enjoyed the character development and getting to know Dick and Perry, but sometimes there was a little too much family history, which is why I rated the book a 4.5 instead of a 5.

PERFORMANCE - Love Scott Brick!

OVERALL (actual rating 4.5) - Recommended for mature readers, male or female. Even though the murders were brutal, they were "tastefully" described with a minimum of gory detail. The book is pretty clean, with only tiny sexual references and perhaps a bit of cursing (don't really remember.)

18 of 18 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Lisa
  • Whiting, IN, United States
  • 01-10-06

Still the Best

This is the book that started the "true crime" novel genre, and it is still the best example. The writing is crisp and current. The insight into the minds of the killers, as well as the victims and the townfolk is nothing short of astonishing.
Scott Brick was the perfect choice for narrating this work. The performance is understated, just like the prose. Listen twice, because you'll miss stuff and because it's worth it.

53 of 55 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

THE definitive

Despite being written over 40 years ago, "In Cold Blood" is just as compelling as any modern tale of murder. Truman Capote brilliantly captures the very essence of everyone involved in the brutal crime, weaving all the pieces together into a truly riveting tale. Scott Brick (whose work I adored in "Under the Banner of Heaven") does a superb job narrating and affecting different accents and tones of the characters. Despite having read the text several times in the past, I found myself compelled to continue to listen to the audio version non-stop over approx. 3 days. Fantastic for any fan of true crime or great American literature. This is a great companion to either the 1967 film by the same name, or the fabulous new film, "Capote."

26 of 28 people found this review helpful

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Awesome and unforgettable.

I first read "In Cold Blood" when it first came out in 1966, when I was just a kid growing up in a dusty little prairie farming town not very different from Holcombe, Kansas. At the time, I took Capote's rendition of the lives of the Clutter family for granted -- it was all I knew. Didn't everyone live like that?

I've since learned different, of course. Not only does 'everyone' not live like that, but hardly anyone does, or not anymore, anyway. Just as 'To Kill A Mockingbird' by Truman Capote's friend Harper Lee defined a certain kind of life in the south, just as did 'A Tree Grows in Brooklyn' by Betty Smith define life in Brooklyn, so Capote's 'In Cold Blood' defines the essence of prairie life in the 1950's. For that reason alone, it's an American classic.

Since then, I reread the book a couple of times, just because I became a dedicated fan of Capote's writing (if not of his lifestyle). But never has the brilliance of his writing come home to me as it did, in listening to Scott Brick reading it. The book and narration constitute a masterwork, by any standard. Yes, Capote perfectly captured the rhythm of life in rural Kansas, but it seems to me he was just as adept at getting inside the minds of the ruthless killers. I haven't any standard to measure that, of course, but the killers are just as believable as were the Clutter family, their traipse through Mexico and back again just as real.

This is an audiobook I will listen to again and again -- honestly, I might not read it again, but listen again? Absolutely. So many nuances jump out at you when you're listening, little details your eye might skim over when you're reading it. What's really interesting is how scary this book is, even though there's very little gore, in the purest sense. Today we're bombarded with 'serial killer' books, with detailed descriptions of the horrors they perpetrate on their victims. You won't find that here, and yet the horror comes through with an even greater impact.

This is a brilliant book, genius-class, for sure. And the narration couldn't possibly be better. This book belongs in everyone's home library. Don't miss it.

22 of 24 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Lesley
  • Seattle, WA, United States
  • 09-09-06

Portrait of a town with two killers

In Cold Blood isn't a mystery. It's more or less a true crime novel, detailing the murder of a family in sparsely-populated Western Kansas.

It's also more than that. The author gives us detailed psychological and biographical portraits: of the two men who committed the crime, of the Clutter family, and of the place they live. Those looking for a sensational Manson-type true crime experience will be disappointed.

But if you have ever wondered why people would kill total strangers, this book is for you. Masterfully structured, the book builds sympathy for the victims as well as the killers and the town, while the actual crime takes a back seat. The author shows us a criminal who isn't really a criminal, a "nice guy" who maybe isn't such a nice guy after all, a town that trumpets its homey friendliness--but how homey is it really, and how friendly, especially toward outsiders?

The psychological quality of the novel is close to that of Albert Camus's The Stranger, another book in which a senseless murder is committed.

The book is also beautifully written; the author's prose is of a quality seldom seen in popular fiction. Capote gives us an astonishingly sharp portrait of middle America in the Eisenhower years, in the days before cable TV and the Internet brought other cultures within reach of "country folk," as one killer's mother describes herself.

Enjoy Scott Brick's quality narration as you decide for yourself who the good guys and the bad guys really are.

16 of 18 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

I'll Never Look at a Stranger the Same Way

I had heard of In Cold Blood all of my life, but I had never read it. I decided to download it and it has been an incredible experience! Scott Brick was captivating as he brought each character to life in such a way that you felt they, themselves, were speaking. I found Capote's writing masterful, eloquent, beautiful and haunting as he took me from the Sunday morning in the country and the brutal murder of an entire family to the final moments of the murder's lives. Every accolade that Capote was given was well deserved, it is a masterpiece few, even accomplished writers, could have even undertaken much less succeeded at so brillantly.

They say a good book never really leaves you and in this case, it is true. I was amazed at the ease and lack of conscience that Capote portrayed in the two men who planned and executed the murders. The people they encountered after the murders and how easily they intended to murder others who they could use or who inconviently got in their way. Sadly, I will never take a stranger for granted again, or am I likely to turn my back as easily as I did before I experienced this capitvating novel.

29 of 34 people found this review helpful

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In this amazing book, Capote managed to explore the lives of ordinary people, and mesh them into a spellbinding epic. In order to appreciate the human and social values laced into the narrative, it is important that the reader know the events that lead of the making of the book before reading it. When it was published in 1966 the said events were probably still fresh in the readers' memories. Knowing the end that all the protagonists met with brings every detail of the story to a monumental scale.
The narrator Scott Brick can do no wrong. As usual he serves the book with intelligence and sensitivity.

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

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Can Only Imagine the Impact

It's not fair to judge "In Cold Blood" using our highly desensitized minds. When this book came out, America was being shocked. From the assassination of Kennedy, to the Playboy Mansion, the standards of the 50s were not just changing - they were being crushed! There is no doubt that the graphic details of this true crime novel were part of that shock. Now, after 20 seasons of Law and Order, meh... That's not a criticism, it's a warning to current readers. Watch a few episodes of Leave it Beaver, Lassie, or The Waltons before listening to this book, and then maybe you can experience what Capote was going for.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Tina
  • Nibley, UT, United States
  • 01-17-16

A crazy, sad tale

There are a few areas where pronunciation really bothers me, I am not sure if this is done with a local dialect in mind or not. This is the only area of the performance that bothered me.

The story was frightening. The randomness of this act is why people don't trust. Being separated out for the reason of thinking someone had cash on the premises and they were wealthy is worrisome. Money is never a good reason to commit a crime.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Bruce
  • Knoxville, MD, United States
  • 11-26-07

No Regrets

Truman Capote accomplishes something timeless and truly valuable with "In Cold Blood." From the very beginning, he paints every character, no matter how minor with loving attention. His story telling makes what could have been just another crime documentary into a tragic tale of humanity. The innocent, the despicable, the strong, the weak, and the forgotten all have their moments in the reader's sun. This book entertains and it educates. It does not form opinions. In fact "In Cold Blood" raises more questions then it answers. The narration is also excellent.

11 of 13 people found this review helpful

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  • Steve
  • 01-26-06

Cool, balanced recounting of brutal event

Capote avoids all the easy options. His book is not a blood and guts horror tale; it's not a socio-pschological tale trying to evince sympathy for the murderers; it's not a who dunnit detective story.
In a sense it's all these and more as he recounts events from multiple points of view - the murderers', the police, the community, the families affected, the judicial system - all are given their place so you have an objective and balanced account where you have to form your own views and decide where your own sympathies lie. Capote's tone is cool (old sense!) and measured throughout.
Well read by Scott Brick

17 of 17 people found this review helpful