In Cold Blood Book Summary - In Cold Blood Book explained in key points
Listen to the Intro

In Cold Blood summary

A True Account of a Multiple Murder and its Consequences

4.3 (85 ratings)
19 mins

Brief summary

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote is a true crime classic that recounts the brutal murder of the Clutter family and the investigation that followed. Capote's gripping narrative style humanizes the victims and the killers alike, leaving readers haunted and questioning the nature of evil.

Table of Contents

    In Cold Blood
    Summary of 9 key ideas

    Audio & text in the Blinkist app
    Key idea 1 of 9

    In a small town in Kansas, two men went on a shopping spree and talked about the perfect crime.

    Which tools would you need to execute the perfect murder?

    Maybe some carefully selected drugs? Or something as blunt as a chainsaw? The two men found guilty of the murder of a Kansas family in 1959 were very straightforward in their approach to committing their heinous crime.

    This is their story.

    One afternoon, a 28-year-old mechanic named Dick Hickock and a 31-year-old car painter named Perry Smith, both of them ex-convicts, went on a shopping spree for some strange items in Emporia, Kansas.

    First, they stopped at a store to buy rubber gloves for Perry; Dick already had a pair of his own.

    Then they visited a women’s hosiery store to buy black stockings but gave up after finding the store only carried lighter shades.

    After that, they sought out a shop where they could buy some sturdy rope. Perry knew a lot about ropes and knots, having been a Merchant Marine. His knowledge led him to select a white nylon cord for their purposes.

    While the items these two men purchased were odd, alone they wouldn’t cause suspicion. Yet if bystanders had overheard their conversation while shopping, they might have notified the authorities.

    While in the stocking store, for instance, when they discovered there were no black stockings, Dick reminded Perry again that there were to be “no witnesses.” Whether or not they wore stockings to obscure their faces was irrelevant.

    Perry was still nervous. Dick reassured him that all would go off without a hitch. How could it not, when the plan was so perfectly devised?

    Yet the men didn’t know how many people might be in the house they intended to invade and rob, which made purchasing the correct length of cord difficult. The men knew the parents would be there, and two children for sure. But there might also be guests.

    To be safe, they purchased 100 yards of cord, enough to tie up at least 12 people.

    Want more?
    Read or listen to the key ideas
    from 7,500+ titles

    Key ideas in In Cold Blood

    More knowledge in less time
    Read or listen
    Read or listen
    Get the key ideas from nonfiction bestsellers in minutes, not hours.
    Find your next read
    Find your next read
    Get book lists curated by experts and personalized recommendations.
    Shortcasts New
    We’ve teamed up with podcast creators to bring you key insights from podcasts.

    What is In Cold Blood about?

    In Cold Blood (1966) tells the true story of a multiple murder that baffled both police and the public in 1959. These blinks recount how investigators gradually unraveled a meticulous yet simple plan devised by two criminals without scruples or remorse.

    In Cold Blood Review

    In Cold Blood (1966) by Truman Capote is a chilling true crime novel that explores the brutal murder of a Kansas family and the psychological motives behind the heinous act. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • Featuring detailed, investigative reporting, it provides an in-depth account of the crime, offering readers a gripping and suspenseful narrative.
    • The book delves into the complexity of the human mind and the motivations behind violent acts, shedding light on the darker aspects of human nature.
    • With its meticulously crafted storytelling and vivid descriptions, the book captivates readers, ensuring a compelling and thought-provoking reading experience.

    Best quote from In Cold Blood

    The only sure thing is that every one of them has got to go. – Dick Hickock

    —Truman Capote
    example alt text

    Who should read In Cold Blood?

    • Fans of suspense or crime novels
    • Anyone interested in criminal psychology
    • Readers curious about how the true crime genre got started

    About the Author

    Truman Capote was one of the most prominent postwar American authors. Born in New Orleans in 1924, he dropped out of school at 15 and traveled to New York, where he got a job with The New Yorker. He went on to become a celebrated writer of both fiction and nonfiction books.

    Categories with In Cold Blood

    Book summaries like In Cold Blood

    People ❤️ Blinkist 
    Sven O.

    It's highly addictive to get core insights on personally relevant topics without repetition or triviality. Added to that the apps ability to suggest kindred interests opens up a foundation of knowledge.

    Thi Viet Quynh N.

    Great app. Good selection of book summaries you can read or listen to while commuting. Instead of scrolling through your social media news feed, this is a much better way to spend your spare time in my opinion.

    Jonathan A.

    Life changing. The concept of being able to grasp a book's main point in such a short time truly opens multiple opportunities to grow every area of your life at a faster rate.

    Renee D.

    Great app. Addicting. Perfect for wait times, morning coffee, evening before bed. Extremely well written, thorough, easy to use.

    People also liked these summaries

    4.7 Stars
    Average ratings on iOS and Google Play
    32 Million
    Downloads on all platforms
    10+ years
    Experience igniting personal growth
    Powerful ideas from top nonfiction

    Try Blinkist to get the key ideas from 7,500+ bestselling nonfiction titles and podcasts. Listen or read in just 15 minutes.

    Start your free trial

    In Cold Blood FAQs 

    What is the main message of In Cold Blood?

    The main message of In Cold Blood is a chilling exploration of the nature of evil and the consequences of violence.

    How long does it take to read In Cold Blood?

    The reading time for In Cold Blood varies depending on the reader's speed. However, the Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is In Cold Blood a good book? Is it worth reading?

    In Cold Blood is a gripping true crime book that offers a unique perspective on a shocking crime. It's definitely worth reading.

    Who is the author of In Cold Blood?

    Truman Capote is the author of In Cold Blood.

    What to read after In Cold Blood?

    If you're wondering what to read next after In Cold Blood, here are some recommendations we suggest:
    • God Is Not Great by Christopher Hitchens
    • Behave by Robert Sapolsky
    • Furious Hours by Casey Cep
    • The Beginning of Infinity by David Deutsch
    • The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson
    • A Very English Scandal by John Preston
    • A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce
    • The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins
    • A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson
    • Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki