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In Cold Blood

A True Account of a Multiple Murder and its Consequences

By Truman Capote
16-minute read
Audio available
In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

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.

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

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.

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In Cold Blood

By Truman Capote
  • Read in 16 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 10 key ideas
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In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
Synopsis

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.

Key idea 1 of 10

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.

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