Killers of the Flower Moon

The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI

Publication Date: Apr 18, 2017
Hardcover: 9780385534246
Ebook: 9780385534253

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.

Praise for Killers of the Flower Moon

Quite simply, this is a remarkable book, by a remarkable author—an exhumation of a shockingly brutal series of historical murders, that I for one knew nothing about. Utterly original; completely compelling.

– Erik Larson, New York Times bestselling author of Dead Wake and Devil in the White City

A fascinating account of a tragic and forgotten chapter in the history of the American West. As in all his work, David Grann digs deep, and this powerful story reveals the unimaginable scale of these shocking murders almost a hundred years ago.

– John Grisham

Killers of the Flower Moon is a magnificent book—a riveting true story of greed, serial murder, and racial injustice that exposes an extremely disturbing episode of American History. David Grann is a terrific journalist, and this is maybe the best thing he’s ever written.

– Jon Krakauer, author of Into Thin Air and Missoula

Loyal readers of David Grann’s books have come to expect jaw-dropping set-ups and brilliantly crafted narratives. Both are on full, dazzling display here. There is an unexpected bonus in the book’s final section, when Grann puts on his deer-stalking hat and proceeds to solve several 85-year-old, unsolved crimes.

– S.C Gwynne, New York Times bestselling author of Rebel Yell and Empire of the Summer Moon

Grann burnishes his reputation as a brilliant storyteller in this gripping true-crime narrative.

– Starred Review in Publishers Weekly