Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann #Review @DavidGrann @doubledaybooks

Killers of thr Flower Moon cover

Oil brought unimaginable riches to the Osage Nation in Oklahoma in the early years of the twentieth century, and made them the “richest people per capita in the world” by the 1920s. It also brought about the “Reign of Terror,” a period of time between 1921 – 1926  when racism and insatiable greed led to many of the Osage being murdered for their headrights, which were worth millions of dollars. When the newly-created FBI first investigated the case, they botched it. Once former Texas Ranger Tom White and his undercover team were put in charge, however, significant progress was made and the evil conspiracy that devastated so many families was finally exposed.

I don’t often read true crime, but I was drawn to this one because I’ve always been very interested to learn more about the cultures and histories of Native American people. I was further intrigued because it happened in my home state and I knew nothing about it.

As difficult as it was to read about the murder victims and how they died, it was nearly as upsetting to me to read about the way the Osage were generally treated and regarded. Bigotry was made worse by jealousy of their wealth, and they were regularly swindled out of their money by being charged exorbitant fees and forced to pay hugely inflated prices for everything. Many of the Osage were ruled incompetent to handle their own money, and had court-appointed guardians who decided how much money they would be allowed to access, and what it could be used for. These guardians often-times were in control of several people’s finances, whom they stole from ruthlessly and repeatedly. Once the murders and suspicious deaths began, the terrorized Osage  quickly lost hope of justice ever being served, thanks to shoddy investigations (if, indeed, an investigation took place at all) that wrapped up quickly and garnered no useful leads in finding the culprit.

What interested me as much as the case details was the portion at the end of the book, detailing visits and conversations the author had with descendants of murder victims. Grann was made privy to details known only to the families of the victims, leading to discoveries that are both shocking and heartbreaking.

Meticulously researched and written in an engaging, narrative style, Killers of the Flower Moon is simply excellent. Highly recommended for history buffs with a particular interest in Native Americans and true crime.

I received an advance review copy of this book courtesy of Netgalley and Doubleday.

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Author: David Grann

Title: Killers of the Flower Moon

Genre: True Crime

Published: April 18th, 2017 by Doubleday

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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Purchase Links

Penguin Random House | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

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About the Book

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, the Osage rode in chauffeured automobiles, built mansions, and sent their children to study in Europe.

Then, one by one, they began to be killed off. One Osage woman, Mollie Burkhart, watched as her family was murdered. Her older sister was shot. Her mother was then slowly poisoned. And it was just the beginning, as more Osage 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 such as Al Spencer, “the Phantom Terror,” roamed – virtually anyone who dared to investigate the killings were themselves murdered. As the death toll surpassed more than twenty-four Osage, the newly created F.B.I. took up the case, in what became one of the organization’s first major homicide investigations. But the bureau was then notoriously corrupt and initially bungled the case. Eventually the young director, J. Edgar Hoover, turned to a former Texas Ranger named Tom White to try unravel the mystery. White put together an undercover team, including one of the only Native American agents in the bureau. They infiltrated the region, struggling to adopt the latest modern techniques of detection. Together with the Osage they began to expose one of the most sinister 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. 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 Native Americans that allowed the murderers to operate with impunity for so long. Killers of the Flower Moon is utterly riveting, but also emotionally devastating.

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About the Author

Author David Grann
Author David Grann

David Grann is a staff writer at The New Yorker magazine. He has written about everything from New York City’s antiquated water tunnels to the hunt for the giant squid to the presidential campaign.

The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon, published by Doubleday, is Grann’s first book and is being developed into a movie by Brad Pitt’s Plan B production company and Paramount Pictures.

Grann’s stories have appeared in several anthologies, including What We Saw: The Events of September 11, 2001; The Best American Crime Writing, of both 2004 and 2005; and The Best American Sports Writing, of 2003 and 2006. A 2004 finalist for the Michael Kelly award for the “fearless pursuit and expression of truth,” Grann has also written for the New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic, the Washington Post, the Boston Globe, the Wall Street Journal, The Weekly Standard, and The New Republic.

Before joining The New Yorker in 2003, Grann was a senior editor at The New Republic, and, from 1995 until 1996, the executive editor of the newspaper The Hill. He holds master’s degrees in international relations from the Fletcher School of Law & Diplomacy as well as in creative writing from Boston University. After graduating from Connecticut College in 1989, he received a Thomas Watson Fellowship and did research in Mexico, where he began his career in journalism. He currently lives in New York with his wife and two children.

Author photo and bio via Goodreads.

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Review: Long Blue Line by E. McNew

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Taking place in the idyllic town of South Lake Tahoe, CA, Long Blue Line is the coming of age of Elizabeth Jeter. It candidly reveals the provocative and secret world of a planned teen pregnancy and the brutal consequences that follow. The girl next door – popular and driven.

Once upon a time a beautiful teenager looked forward to school letting out and the warm, carefree days to come. But in the summer of her fifteenth year, things would drastically change. After reading a romance book sensationalizing a young woman’s perfect life following the hookup with a wealthy prince charming, Elizabeth set out to create her own fairy tale ending. This would become the beginning of the darkest hours in her life: pregnancy, bridesmaids, drugs and jail.

Long Blue Line is Elizabeth’s true story about her descent into addiction. Her obsession with pregnancy, social issues, independence, and, ultimately drugs is chronicled in brutally honest prose that will leave you spellbound. Her journey isn’t over – far from it. She still has nightmares, but today she is wiser and lives in reality.

If you are this girl, you will take a deep breath and nod your head knowingly. If you knew this girl, you will rethink your assumptions. If this girl is your daughter, you will finally get an insider’s look at what she can’t put into words.

Above all, you will be moved – moved to tears, to unity, to action. Elizabeth is one of the lucky ones. She survived. Sadly, many young women and their children are unable to escape the madness and become another one of too many true crime stories. Not everyone gets a second chance, and she hopes to inspire others with her straightforward honesty.


I got this book as a free Kindle download. I wish I could say I enjoyed it, but the truth is, I didn’t. I’m usually able to finish a book this size in a couple days, but I had a hard time reading it. Not because of the content, but because of the never-ending errors in spelling, grammar, and words that were either misused or left out completely. (Granted, the missing word issue didn’t happen often, and only towards the end of the book… but still, it was annoying.)

Other eyesores include:

** The names of the brothers (Derrick and Donnie) being swapped several times in the last quarter of the book. I’m guessing this may have happened because their real names weren’t used in the book, and the author mistakenly used the wrong aliases.

** Conversations taking place in the same loooooong paragraph rather than using the standard dialogue rule of starting a new paragraph each time a different person speaks, which made conversations hard to follow. Not to mention, it’s a strain on the eyes reading paragraphs that aren’t broken up properly.

** Being taken out the ‘present’ of the book, to events (or hinted-at events, at least) that take place in the near and/or distant future. Done properly, in a way that makes clear that it is an aside, or glimpse of things to come, it wouldn’t have bothered me. But done within the same paragraph, with no hint that what is being said refers to a later time, is a bit jarring. It happens repeatedly throughout the book, and it always shoved me right out of the story.

As I’ve often found myself saying in reviews of Kindle freebies, this book desperately needed better editing. I also felt, at times, the story didn’t have a natural flow to it. I’m not saying the book as a whole needed to be written in precise, chronological orders of events, but it did need some smoothing out, somehow. Perhaps a good editor could have helped in that regard, as well.

And personally, I’d have preferred to read the entire story in one book. This story is (so far) broken up into three separate books*, and so many details are repeated in books two and three before you finally reach the new details… it’s a little tedious going back over stuff you already know, when you just want to find out what happens next.

And yeah… I still want to find out what happens next. I’m just not sure I want to re-read chunks of books 1-3 in book four in order to find out.

*Fifteen &…What?! and Testing the Waters: The Unplanned Pregnancy of a Fifteen-Year-Old are the first two books written by Ms. McNew, but it’s not necessary to read these books, as The Long Blue Line includes the happenings in those books and continues the story.

Author: E. McNew

Title: Long Blue Line: Based On A True Story

Published: September 29, 2014

Rating: ★★

goodreads-badge-add-plusThis review was originally published on Goodreads on August 30, 2015.