Monday, August 21, 2017

Review: Killers of the Flower Moon

Summary: 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. -- Doubleday

I rarely read non-fiction, so I was excited when my book club decided to read KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON: THE OSAGE MURDERS AND THE BIRTH OF THE FBI by David Grann. I first heard about this book during my visit to SIBA last September, and the story sounded almost unbelievable to me. I had to wonder why I had never heard about the horrific events surrounding the Osage Indian nation in the 1920s.

KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON is a jaw dropping story about the richest people per capita in the world in the 1920s -- the Osage Indian nation. They struck oil on their land and many of the Osage lived a life of luxury... until they started being killed off one by one. Mollie Burkhart's family was hit especially hard as her mother and sisters were poisoned and shot; however, most members of the nation were affected in one way or another by the deaths.

When the death toll reached 24, the FBI decided to take the case. It was one of their first major homicide investigations and it didn't go well. FBI director, J. Edgar Hoover decided to assign a former Texas Ranger named Tom White to solve the case. White assembled an undercover team that tried to immerse themselves into the region and figure out what the heck was going on. The story becomes more and more amazing as they discover clues during their investigation!

I am still reeling from KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON! It truly is an amazing story that's not only shocking but also extremely sad. I can't believe that not one of the members of my book club had ever even heard of what happened to the members of the Osage Nation, and I think they says quite a bit about our country's relationship with Native Americans... but more on that later.

The reactions on this book were mixed among my book club friends. All of us agreed that the story is truly remarkable (I am running out of adjectives!), but some of us appreciated the book more than others. I will admit that I felt as if the story carried the book, but I understand some of the issues with the writing. There were parts that were a bit dry, but it is non-fiction so I was fine with that. Others not so much!

KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON has received tons of great reviews, and I think I heard that there are plans for a movie. It is definitely a story that needs to be heard. As my friends and I discussed this book, we couldn't help but focus on how our country treated Native Americans, and especially the Osage Nation. It was a horribly sad time in our nation's history, and I would like to think we've learned from it and changed, but...

As a fan of crime books, I actually enjoyed the parts of the book that focused on the FBI and their investigation techniques. It was a fascinating time with lots of changes. Keep in mind that it wasn't far removed from the Wild West! It was interesting to see an early J. Edgar Hoover's management techniques, as well as Tom White's devotion to the case.

Overall, I highly recommend KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON. It's definitely going to be one of the most unbelievable true stories that you will read this year!

I received a review copy via Net Galley.

Mystery Mondays is a regular feature where I review all types of mystery books -- traditional mysteries, suspense/thrillers, and even cozies! Please feel free to share your thoughts on any recent mystery books that you've read.

1 comment:

bermudaonion said...

Wow, that sounds like just the kind of non-fiction I love.