Books: The Country Below the Surface

IN COLD BLOOD by Truman Capote. 343 pages. Random House. $5.95.

One November night in 1959 two ex-convicts named Perry Smith and Richard Hickock entered the Holcomb, Kans., home of Herbert Clutter, a well-to-do wheat farmer, and killed everyone in it: Clutter, his wife, his 16-year-old daughter and his 15-year-old son. Murder was only incidental to the design, which was theft. But murder was also essential: the visitors intended to leave no witnesses. Within two months the killers, who had collected a tabletop radio, binoculars, and less than $50 in cash from their victims, were captured and condemned to death. Last April,...

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