Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann
The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI

81%

19 Critic Reviews

This page-turner surges forward with the pacing of a true-crime thriller, elevated by Grann's crisp and evocative prose and enhanced by dozens of period photographs.
-Kirkus

Synopsis

"Disturbing and riveting...Grann has proved himself a master of spinning delicious, many-layered mysteries that also happen to be true...It will sear your soul." —Dave Eggers, New York Times Book Review

From New Yorker staff writer David Grann, #1 New York Times best-selling author of The Lost City of Z, a twisting, haunting true-life murder mystery about one of the most monstrous crimes in American history
       
In the 1920s, the richest people per capita in the world were members of the Osage Indian nation in Oklahoma. After oil was discovered beneath their land, they rode in chauffeured automobiles, built mansions, and sent their children to study in Europe.
      Then, one by one, the Osage began to be killed off. The family of an Osage woman, Mollie Burkhart, became a prime target. Her relatives were shot and poisoned. And it was just the beginning, as more and more members of the tribe began to die under mysterious circumstances.
      In this last remnant of the Wild West—where oilmen like J. P. Getty made their fortunes and where desperadoes like Al Spencer, the “Phantom Terror,” roamed—many of those who dared to investigate the killings were themselves murdered. As the death toll climbed to more than twenty-four, the FBI took up the case. It was one of the organization’s first major homicide investigations and the bureau badly bungled the case. In desperation, the young director, J. Edgar Hoover, turned to a former Texas Ranger named Tom White to unravel the mystery. White put together an undercover team, including one of the only American Indian agents in the bureau. The agents infiltrated the region, struggling to adopt the latest techniques of detection.  Together with the Osage they began to expose one of the most chilling conspiracies in American history. 
      In Killers of the Flower Moon, David Grann revisits a shocking series of crimes in which dozens of people were murdered in cold blood. Based on years of research and startling new evidence, the book is a masterpiece of narrative nonfiction, as each step in the investigation reveals a series of sinister secrets and reversals. But more than that, it is a searing indictment of the callousness and prejudice toward American Indians that allowed the murderers to operate with impunity for so long. Killers of the Flower Moon is utterly compelling, but also emotionally devastating.
 

About David Grann

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DAVID GRANN is a longtime staff writer at The New Yorker. He has written about everything from New York City's antiquated water tunnels to the Aryan Brotherhood prison gang, from the hunt for the giant squid to the mysterious death of the world's greatest Sherlock Holmes expert. His stories have appeared in several Best American writing anthologies, and he has written for The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, and The New Republic. A collection of his stories, The Devil and Sherlock Holmes: Tales of Murder, Madness, and Obsession, will be published in spring 2010.
 
Published April 18, 2017 by Doubleday. 354 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Law & Philosophy. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for Killers of the Flower Moon
All: 19 | Positive: 16 | Negative: 3

Kirkus

Excellent
on Feb 02 2017

This page-turner surges forward with the pacing of a true-crime thriller, elevated by Grann's crisp and evocative prose and enhanced by dozens of period photographs.

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Publishers Weekly

Excellent
on Jun 19 2017

Grann demonstrates how the Osage Murders inquiry helped Hoover to make the case for a “national, more professional, scientifically skilled” police force. Grann’s own dogged detective work reveals another layer to the case that Hoover’s men had never exposed.

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NY Journal of Books

Good
Reviewed by Thomas McClung on Apr 17 2017

This is a very interesting, informative account of a virtually unknown episode in American history, not to mention well written and cogent by bestselling author, David Grann. Although there seems to be a trend recently toward notes based on quotes and other terms and expressions in the text, the research is there that underlies this story.

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Star Tribune

Above average
Reviewed by Laurie Hertzel on Apr 14 2017

The result is a powerful book — not entertaining, no, but fascinating; an outrageous, devastating read.

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Globe and Mail

Good
Reviewed by Dean Jobb on May 12 2017

Killers of the Flower Moon is a gripping tale, masterfully told. When murderers escape justice, Grann notes, “history can often provide at least some final accounting.” While it’s too late to identify, let alone punish, all those who preyed on the Osage, this book ensures these brutal crimes will never again be forgotten.

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Christian Science Monitor

Good
Reviewed by Erik Spanberg on May 15 2017

“This land is saturated with blood,” a descendant of an Osage murder victim tells Grann. Readers will find the stain of that blood all but impossible to wash away after reading Grann’s absorbing but disturbing story.

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The Maine Edge

Excellent
Reviewed by Allen Adams on Apr 19 2017

“Killers of the Flower Moon” is one of the most propulsive, engrossing true-crime stories that I’ve ever had the opportunity to read...there’s a purplish hue that lays over the prose and points up the lurid nature of the narrative without ever succumbing to the urge to exploit.

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NY Times

Good
Reviewed by Dave Eggers on Apr 28 2017

...in these last pages, Grann takes what was already a fascinating and disciplined recording of a forgotten chapter in American history, and with the help of contemporary Osage tribe members, he illuminates a sickening conspiracy that goes far deeper...

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NY Times

Above average
Reviewed by Dwight Garner on Apr 12 2017

...is close to impeccable. It’s confident, fluid in its dynamics, light on its feet. What it lacks is the soulful, trippy, questing and offhandedly cerebral quality of his last and best-known book...

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Look At OKC

Good
Reviewed by Ed Godfrey on Apr 16 2017

“Killers of the Flower Moon” is a fascinating and compelling read and a sad piece of Oklahoma history.

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Newsday

Good
Reviewed by Matthew Price on Apr 17 2017

The last section of “Killers of the Flower Moon” is a haunting exploration of the legacy of these crimes, and a first-person account of Grann’s encounters with Mollie’s granddaughter and other tribe members...

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Independent.ie

Above average
Reviewed by Darragh McManus on Apr 23 2017

Killers of the Flower Moon is in part a history of how the FBI earned its stripes and became America's first nationwide law-enforcement agency. But it's mostly a paean to the brave few who stood up for what was right, and a lament for the victims: both individuals killed over oil, and an entire race...

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Library Journal

Good
Reviewed by Barbara Hoffert on Apr 14 2017

Grann’s writing is so propulsively good that readers will rush through this book, then rear back when they remember that it reports fiercely on a crime against humanity.

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Irish Times

Below average
Reviewed by Eoin McNamee on Apr 29 2017

Many more deaths went unreported. But the technique is superficial beside the real meaning of his final discovery: how it demonstrates the rendering of entire peoples as subhuman the better to erase them from the earth.

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Santa Fe New Mexican

Good
Reviewed by Molly Boyle on Apr 21 2017

Though the Osage bear the fractures of the murders to this day, this chapter of Indian-American relations has been long forgotten by history. Grann’s piercing look at its legacy is heartrending and necessary.

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Guardian

Good
Reviewed by RO Kwon on Aug 03 2017

Grann’s accomplished and necessary account of injustice, avarice and racist violence, tells a story both old and new.

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https://bookpage.com

Good
Reviewed by Priscilla Kipp on May 01 2017

...he goes on to reveal the many unresolved murders that preceded 1921 and the ongoing disenfranchisement of present-day Osages, adding to the sheer power of truth in Killers of the Flower Moon.

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https://www.booklistonline.com

Excellent
Reviewed by Annie Bostrom on Feb 15 2017

Grann employs you-are-there narrative effects to set readers right in the action, and he relays the humanity, evil, and heroism of the people involved. His riveting reckoning of a devastating episode in American history deservedly captivates.

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http://ew.com

Good
Reviewed by Jeff Labrecque on Apr 20 2017

...meticulously researched and masterfully spun chronicle of the “Osage Reign of Terror” that may have claimed more than 100 victims.

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Reader Rating for Killers of the Flower Moon
89%

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