Book Review of In Cold Blood: One of the First Non-Fiction Novels of the Modern Era

June 7, 2022 by Essay Writer

Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood is considered to be one of the first non-fiction novels of the modern era. It tells the true story of the murder of the Clutter family that took place in Holcomb, Kansas, in 1959. The narrator of the novel follows the Clutters through their last days along with the two men who killed them, Perry Smith and Dick Hickock. Through the telling of this story, Capote reveals his thoughts regarding numerous ideas.

First, the novel acts as a commentary of the American Dream from Capote’s perspective. Capote describes the idyllic life Herb Clutter had built for himself and his family. They essentially serve as a depiction of the American Dream for the novel. Capote then contrasts the Clutters to Smith and Hickock by describing their inability to achieve the desirable lifestyle that the Clutters live. This jealousy fundamentally drives the two to murdering the Cutter family. This contrast implies that the American Dream is not only demanding, but only achievable if people like Smith and Hickock cease to exist.

Next, Capote uses this novel to emphasize the power of journalism. He was one of the first authors, or in this case, journalists, to take events from the modern world and elevate them to tell a more universal story, applicable not just to those affected by the murder. In essence, Capote turned a local murder mystery into a piece of literature that speaks on life and death, American society, and the pursuit of happiness.

After reading In Cold Blood, Capote’s intended audience seems to be people who work closely to the criminal justice system. Capote uses specific jargon and cites historical murder cases that would stand familiar to those familiar with the criminal justice system. In addition, Capote uses this as a tactic to establish ethos.

In Cold Blood is a page-turner that leaves readers on the edge of their seats. But what makes this book so thrilling is its’ delivery. The murders are described by a distant narrator through interviews, which creates great suspense for readers. This also contributes to the character development in a unique manner. This is, perhaps, the books’ greatest strength; the ability to make an already known crime new and interesting to readers. Overall, this book is truly a non-fiction masterpiece that set the path for future non-fiction writers and the future of journalism.


Read more