Subtitle: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI
by David Grann
copyright 2017 ISBN: 978-0-3855-3424-46 Hardback, 291 pages plus acknowledgements, credits, sources and notes totaling 339 pages Publisher – Doubleday, New York, London, Toronto, Sydney, Auckland. Illustrated with black and white photos of the period and named a #1 New York Times bestseller for more than eight months. The story is being adapted into a major motion picture; Martin Scorsese is slated to direct and Leonardo DiCaprio to play a role.
(Review by Carolyn B. Leonard)
Set in Osage County, Oklahoma in the spring of 1921, this nonfiction book has remained on the bestseller list for months. Amazon named Killers of the Flower Moon the single best book of the year, and so did Shelf Awareness.
In the 19th century, the Osage were forced to remove from Kansas to Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma). In 1897 oil was discovered in Osage County under the approximately 1.47 million acre Osage Reservation.
As Oklahoma prepared for statehood in 1907, the federal government allotted 657 acres to each Osage on the tribal rolls. After that the Osage and their heirs, whether Osage blood or not, had ”headrights” to royalties in oil production, based on their allotment.
Those headrights put a target on each Osage member and the death knells began to ring as one by one they began to die under mysterious circumstances. Actually they were murdered in cold blood and officials never seemed to care. Many of those who dared to investigate the killings were themselves murdered. Finally, the new FBI took over, but they bungled the investigation.
The author revisits this shocking series of crimes in which dozens of people were murdered. Grann, a staff writer at The New Yorker, conducted his own investigation to solve some of the as-yet-unsolved murders and he tells the story using fiction techniques that keep you turning the pages unable to stop. What a shock when you finally learn the identity of the perpetrators.
I highly recommend this suspense-filled and rollicking true-crime book.