Truman Capote's ground-breaking "non-fiction" novel about the murder of a Kansas farm family. We take the position that the book is not only flawed, but dishonest.
by J.J. Maloney
The publication of In Cold Blood, in 1966, launched Truman Capote firmly into the top rank of American writers. It was – and is – widely heralded as a masterpiece -- not only a masterpiece of writing, but as a brilliant insight into the criminal mind.
After publication of the book, Capote told George Plimpton, in an interview for the New York Times published in January, 1966, that he had been watching for an event that would allow him to write a "non-fiction" novel – in his definition, a factual book written using the literary skills of an accomplished novelist.
The murder of the Herbert Clutter family in Holcomb, Kansas, on Nov. 15, 1959, caught Capote’s eye. The case received a blurb in the New York Times because Herbert Clutter, during the Eisenhower administration, had been a member of the Farm Credit Board, and was founder of the Kansas Wheat Growers Association.
The murders were brutal, unsolved, and apparently without motivation, since nothing appeared to be missing from the house.