Murder Is Our Peculiar Pastime: Fifty Notable American Crime Novels: 7-8.


Capote, Truman.  In Cold Blood.  New York: Random House, 1966.

With In Cold Blood, Truman Capote not only established himself as a major voice among writers of his generation, but also created the prototype for several new genres.  The book has been classified as a “true crime” book, a “nonfiction novel,” “new journalism,” and “creative nonfiction.”  It anticipates titles ranging from Ann Rules’ The Stranger beside Me and Vincent Bugliosi’s Helter Skelter to Gay Talese’s Honor Thy Father, to Norman Mailer’s Executioner’s Song.

In Cold Blood focuses on two petty criminals who rely on jailhouse hearsay in targeting a Kansas farm family for robbery.  When it turns out that there is almost no money on the premises, the two armed intruders decide to kill everyone in the house to avoid being charged with the botched robbery. Of course, the brutal massacre of this very respectable, very…

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