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.
Five years, four months and twenty-nine days later, on April 14, 1965, Richard Eugene Hickock, thirty-three, and Perry Edward Smith, aged thirty-six, were hanged for the crime.
This is a factual book that seems fictitious on account of the intensity of the drama involved. The amount of research that the author, Truman Capote, has put into the book is unbelievable. He was inspired by a 300 word article in The New York Times and that led to a six year long, meticulous research.
The novel follows a parallel storyline of the victims and the murderers. Although the reader is acquainted with the criminals fairly in the beginning, what remains a complete mystery is their motive for brutally killing a perfectly normal, well-loved, respectable farming family. The narrative is well-rounded, taut, and leaves no details unmentioned. It is a fairly long novel, I thought, but not a moment was dragged and not an extra word exists. Brilliant!
Quote: ‘Cullivan probed, trying to gauge the depth of what he assumed would be Perry’s condition. Surely he must be experiencing a remorse sufficiently profound to summon a desire for God’s mercy and forgiveness? Perry said, “Am I sorry? If that’s what you mean — I’m not. I don’t feel anything about it. I wish I did. But nothing about it bothers me a bit. Half an hour after it happened, Dick was making jokes and I was laughing at them. Maybe we’re not human. I’m human enough to feel sorry for myself.’