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Killers of the Flower Moon

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

Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI is the third non-fiction book by American journalist David Grann. The book was released on April 18, 2017 by Doubleday. Time magazine listed Killers of the Flower Moon as one of its top ten non-fiction books of 2017. The book is currently planned for production as a Martin Scorsese film.

(Review by Carolyn 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.