Killer writing by Truman Capote

I really enjoyed this spectacular description and opening by Truman Capote in his book “In Cold Blood.” (Commissions earned from links.)

The true crime novel was one of the first of its kind and its still the perfect example for how it should be done. See if this writing from Chapter 1 doesn’t just grab you:

 “In Cold Blood” by Truman Capote. (Commissions earned from links.)

THE VILLAGE OF HOLCOMB STANDS on the high wheat plains of western Kansas, a lonesome area that other Kansans call “out there.” Some seventy miles east of the Colorado border, the countryside, with its hard blue skies and desert-clear air, has an atmosphere that is rather more Far West than Middle West. The local accent is barbed with a prairie twang, a ranch-hand nasalness, and the men, many of them, wear narrow frontier trousers, Stetsons, and high-heeled boots with pointed toes. The land is flat, and the views are awesomely extensive; horses, herds of cattle, a white cluster of grain elevators rising as gracefully as Greek temples are visible long before a traveler reaches them.

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A strong character introduction by James Patterson

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I really enjoyed this character introduction by James Patterson in “Along Came a Spider (Alex Cross Book 1).” (Commissions earned from links.)

Patterson’s first book kicked off a successful 28-book series into the main character Alex Cross, and also led to a successful movie franchise.

The following passage isn’t an introduction of Alex Cross, but rather another major character in the first book named Jezzie Flannagan. Hope you enjoy it:

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A GLEAMING, black BMW K-1 motorcycle squeezed between the low fieldstone gates of the Washington Day School. The driver was I.D.’d, then the bike sped down a long narrow road toward a gray cluster of school buildings. It was eleven o’clock.

The BMW K-1 streaked to sixty in the few seconds it took to get to the administration building. The motorcycle then braked easily and smoothly, barely throwing gravel. The rider slid it in behind a pearl-gray Mercedes stretch limousine with diplomat’s plates DP101.

Still seated on the bike, Jezzie Flanagan pulled off a black helmet to reveal longish blond hair. She looked to be in her late twenties. Actually, she’d turned thirty-two that summer. Life was threatening to pass her right by. She was a relic now, ancient history, she believed. She had come straight to the school from her lake cottage, not to mention her first vacation in twenty-nine months.

That latter fact helped to explain her style of dress that morning: the leather bike jacket, the faded black jeans with leg warmers, thick leather belt, the red-and-black checkered lumberman’s shirt, and the worn engineering boots.

Two D.C. policemen rushed up on either side of her. “It’s okay, officers,” she said, “here’s my I.D.” After eyeing the identification, they backed away quickly and became solicitous. “You can go right in,” one of them said. “There’s a side door just around those high hedges, Ms. Flanagan.”

Jezzie Flanagan managed a friendly smile for the two harried-looking policemen. “I don’t exactly look the part today, I know. I was on my vacation. I race the bike. I raced it here.”

Jezzie Flanagan took the shortcut across a pristine lawn that was lightly coated with frost. She disappeared inside the school’s administration building.

Neither of the D.C. policemen took his eyes off her until she was gone. Her blond hair blew like streamers in the stiff winter wind. She was definitely stunning to look at, even in dirty jeans and work boots. And she had a very powerful job. They both knew that from her I.D. She was a player.

As she made her way through the front lobby, someone grabbed at her. Someone caught a piece of Jezzie Flanagan, which was typical of her life in D.C.

Victor Schmidt had hooked onto her arm. Once upon a time, and this was difficult for Jezzie to imagine now, Victor had been her partner. Her first, in fact. Now he was assigned to one of the students at the Day School.

Victor was short and balding. A stylish GQ sort of dresser. Confident for no particularly good reason. He’d always struck her as misplaced in the Secret Service, maybe better suited for lower rungs of the diplomatic corps.

“Jezzie, how’s it going?” he half whispered, half spoke. He never seemed to go all the way on anything, she remembered. That had always bugged her.

Jezzie Flanagan blew up. Later, she realized she had really been on edge when Schmidt stopped her. Not that she needed an excuse for the flare-up. Not that morning. Not under the circumstances.

But Jezzie Flanagan had already walked away, at least partly to keep from saying anything else to Victor. She did feel nervous. And ill. And mostly, wired as hell. 

“Vic, do you know that two children have been taken from this school, maybe kidnapped?” she snapped. “One is the secretary of the treasury’s son? The other is Katherine Rose’s little girl? The actress Katherine Rose Dunne. How do you think I’m doing? I’m a little sick to my stomach. I’m angry. I’m also petrified.”

“I just meant hello. Hello, Jezzie? I know what the hell has happened here.”

But Jezzie Flanagan had already walked away, at least partly to keep from saying anything else to Victor. She did feel nervous. And ill. And mostly, wired as hell. 


Hope you enjoyed that as much as I did. And again, that is from “Along Came a Spider (Alex Cross Book 1).

I’ll try to post some great writing again soon, so subscribe if you haven’t already done so. I love writing and I love reading, and I want to spread the passion that I have for the written word as much as I can. So, please consider subscribing to the site so you can enjoy some great writing on a regular basis.

Just as importantly, if you’ve read a few great paragraphs lately, let me know and I may feature it. (You can reach me at the following address: And if I do, I’ll give you a shout out and make you famous. Or maybe not famous, but your name will be on the internet for something other than getting arrested on that Spring Break trip years ago, so there’s that.

Until next time,

Stan R. Mitchell


About me: My name is Stan R. Mitchell, and I write exciting, fast-paced thrillers. Both military action and mystery whodunnits. Ten books penned. 70,000+ sold. Some of my favorite authors and influences are Tom Clancy, Vince Flynn, Robert B. Parker, and Stephen Hunter.

If you enjoy them, then more than likely you’ll enjoy my writing.

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A character’s past shaped by war

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The Deserter” by Nelson DeMille and Alex DeMille had some great writing that grabbed my attention. (Commissions earned from links.)

The thriller, written about an unorthodox Army investigator named Scott Brodie, had the following lines in it:

“Brodie understood something about the stress of war. Before joining the Criminal Investigation Command, he’d served as a rifleman in the 2nd Infantry Division in Iraq and taken part in the successful drive to retake Fallujah from the insurgents in Operation Phantom Fury.

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