True Crime

In Cold Blood is remarkable as a prototype of what would become the contemporary true crime genre in American literature. At the center of Capote’s story is a sensationalized crime, one that had far-ranging impact and whose details are memorable for their gruesomeness and depravity, all familiar hallmarks of true crime. Capote explores this crime from a variety of perspectives, including the murderers themselves, the townspeople who were impacted, and the investigators solving the crime. He also traces the lives of the Clutters before the murder to include some of the victims’ lost perspectives. These perspectives form the narrative of the book, but Capote also goes further, bringing the reader into the trial and appeals process. He provides statistics, legal background, and psychiatric information, alongside deeply personal documents of the victims and murderers, from diary entries to autobiographical statements to letters from family members. All of this taken together gives readers both intimate insight into the people closest to the crime and a birds’ eye view of its far-reaching impact.

Read about In Cold Blood within the context of true crime, New Journalism, and nonfiction novels.