In the wake of Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s sad death, there’s been a lot of talk of his Oscar-winning performance as writer Truman Capote in the film “Capote.” In the movie, Hoffman portrayed the author as he was researching and writing In Cold Blood, assisted by close friend Harper Lee.
What you can’t see in the film is the groundbreaking nonfiction form employed by Capote in this book about the murder of family in rural Kansas. In addition to shaping the true-crime genre, Capote brought the vivid techniques of fiction to non-fiction, making this book a non-stop read.
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.