Killers of the Flower Moon

February 9, 2018

true crime….cruel and incomprehensible racial injustice…greed…

Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann

Killers of the Flower Moon

Genre/categories: Nonfiction, True Crime, Native American, U.S. History, Racial Injustice, Osage


This is a true crime murder mystery involving the wealthy Osage Indian Nation of Oklahoma in the 1920s. After oil was discovered beneath the wasteland that they had been forced to live on, the Osage became extremely rich. However, one by one, members of the Osage began to die under suspicious circumstances, or as some believed to be killed off. To introduce readers to this community and the crime, the author closely follows the story of Mollie Burkhart and her family.  It was dangerous to investigate the murders because investigators could also die under mysterious circumstances. As the death toll surpassed more than twenty-four Osage, the newly formed F.B.I. took up the case.  The F.B.I also experienced difficulty in the investigation until J. Edgar Hoover enlisted Tom White, a former Texas Ranger, to form an undercover team  to unravel the mystery. White’s team (which included a Native American) infiltrated the region and employed the latest modern techniques of investigation. This story tells whether or not they were able to expose one of the most monstrous and heinous crimes in American history.


Amazon Rating (February): 4.6 Stars

My Thoughts:

Structure: True crime isn’t my preferred genre and this book is dense with detail;  however, I found the true account compelling overall and especially as I focused on the fascinating character of Tom White, an unsung hero. The story is structured in three parts: first, we are introduced to Mollie Burkhart and readers become acquainted with her inheritance and wealth, her family, the crimes, and the principal players in the community; second, we follow the F.B.I.’s attempts in the investigation, we learn about the intrigue and corruption, and in particular we meet F.B.I. agent Tom White;  last, the story ends from a reporter’s perspective (Grann’s)  as he attempts additional research and demonstrates that the crime that White uncovered was really just the tip of the iceberg.  Least one assume that Tom White is merely a “white savior” as some reviewers have mentioned, Grann makes it clear that the combination of  widespread corruption and the powerless Osage required a white person to take on the white system.

Unforgettable Character: In particular, I enjoyed the exploration into the character of Tom White. For taking on an extremely high-profile and dangerous assignment, he was rather soft-spoken, nonviolent, fair, trustworthy, and humble. His good character is in stark contrast to the character traits of the corrupt community authorities. Bravely and courageously, he conducted a most difficult investigation, one that would greatly enhance the reputation of the F.B.I. if solved. Later in White’s career when he was the head of the prison that took in the prisoners that were convicted in the Osage murders, he shook their hands and welcomed them to the prison and insisted that they be treated fairly.  In addition, when the person who murdered his own brother was admitted to the prison, White never mentioned his presence to anyone. White wanted every prisoner to be treated equally and fairly. A humble man who didn’t seek the limelight, it is unfortunate that White was never properly recognized publicly for the important contributions he made to the Osage case.

Voice: It’s unfortunate that the white culture hasn’t listened to or heard the Osage Nation, and credit is given to David Grann for hearing their voice and telling this well researched story that documents the crimes against the Osage and includes interviews with many in the Osage community. I wish that we could have heard the story entirely from an authentic Osage voice. I think if the Osage could tell their own story, it would help move them out of a powerless position.

Reading Tip: My husband experienced reading this on audible and found the second narrator the most compelling and enjoyable of the three. He wished the entire story had been told by this second narrator. So if you purchase this through audible and are not enthralled with the first narrator, the second is much better.

Recommended. Highly recommended for readers who love the true crime genre, for readers who want to further explore the topic of racial injustice as it affects Native Americans, for those who enjoy reading about historical events, and for readers who are looking for a compelling, thought provoking read.

My Rating: 4 Stars


Killers of the Flower Moon

Buy Here

Meet the Author, David Grann

David GrannDAVID GRANN is a #1 New York Times bestselling author and an award-winning staff writer at The New Yorker magazine. His latest book, Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI, was released in April. Based on years of research, it explores one of the most sinister crimes and racial injustices in American history.

His first book, The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon, became a #1 New York Times bestseller and has been translated into more than twenty-five languages. Shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize, the book was chosen as one of the best books of 2009 by the New York Times, the Washington Post, Entertainment Weekly, Bloomberg, Publishers Weekly, and the Christian Science Monitor, and it also won the Indies Choice award for the best nonfiction book of that year.

The Lost City of Z has been adapted into a major motion picture, which will be released in theaters in April 2017. Produced by Brad Pitt’s production company, the film is directed by James Gray and stars Charlie Hunnam, Sienna Miller, Robert Pattinson, and Tom Holland.

Grann’s other book, The Devil and Sherlock Holmes, contains many of his New Yorker stories, and was named by Men’s Journal one of the best true crime books ever written. The stories in the collection focus on everything from the mysterious death of the world’s greatest Sherlock Holmes expert to a Polish writer who might have left clues to a real murder in his postmodern novel. Another piece, “Trial by Fire,” exposed how junk science led to the execution of a likely innocent man in Texas. The story received a George Polk award for outstanding journalism and a Silver Gavel award for fostering the public’s understanding of the justice system.His stories have also been a source of material for feature films. “Old Man and the Gun”—which is in The Devil and Sherlock Holmes, and is about an aging stick-up man and prison escape artist—is slated to be directed by David Lowery and to star Robert Redford.

Over the years, Grann’s stories have appeared in The Best American Crime Writing; The Best American Sports Writing; and The Best American Nonrequired Reading. He has previously written for the New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic, the Washington Post, the Boston Globe, the Wall Street Journal, 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.


Happy Reading Bookworms!

“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke

“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes

“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

Looking Ahead:

I’m planning a review of this ARC (advanced reader’s copy) next week:

A Way Out: A Memoir of Conquering Depression and Social Anxiety
by Michelle Balge

A Way Out

Amazon information here (2/27/19 release date)

I’m continuing to read Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder by Caroline Fraser (from my 2018 TBR).

Prairie Fires

Amazon information here

My TBR and the BUZZ

I’m noticing lots of buzz (great reviews) lately about three books (all Book of the Month Club selections): The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce, The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah (author of The Nightingale), and As Bright as Heaven by Susan Meissner. I’m adding them to the top of my TBR, so look for reviews soon!

Do you belong to Book of the Month Club?

I also just heard that Louise Penny (Inspector Gamache series) will be releasing a new installment in November of this year! (no title or cover yet)
#meetmeinthreepines #threepinesgeek
available for preorder

What are you reading this week?


Modern Mrs Darcy published a list of  25 Must-Read Classics for Women.
How many have you read?

If you’re looking for Christian fiction, check out this post from The Caffeinated Bibliophile: Eight Christian Romance Books to Read for Valentine’s Day.

There’s still time to read or reread Wrinkle in Time before the movie release on March 9.
Will you be seeing the movie?

Sharing is Caring

I’d be honored and thrilled if you choose to enjoy and follow along, promote, and/or share my blog. Every share helps us grow.

Let’s Discuss!

Had you ever heard of the crimes against the Osage before you read this review?

Do you keep a balance between fiction and nonfiction in your reading life? Is the balance 50-50 or do you read more of one than the other? Which do you prefer that I review?

What are you reading this week?


America’s First Daughter

September 15, 2017

America’s First Daughter
by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie

My bookish and dear friend Cheryl recently recommended this book to me knowing I love histfic. She appreciated its readability, the rich language, and the way the sentences were constructed….causing the story to flow easily from one thought or experience to the next.  She mentioned that she liked exploring characters and events about which she had been aware but didn’t fully understand the context….throughout the narrative, Thomas Jefferson became a person for her. Finally, she learned more about the culture of slaves and slave owners from both perspectives. SOLD! I downloaded it to my Kindle that afternoon!

Sacrifice … Devotion … Hardship … Privilege … Grit

America's First Daughter

Genre/category: historical fiction, biographical


A fast paced read, this well researched novel draws from thousands of letters and original sources as it tells the story of Thomas Jefferson’s eldest daughter, Martha “Patsy” Jefferson Randolph. Patsy shares her father’s devotion to their country and becomes his partner, protector, and loyal companion after the death of her mother. As a young girl she travels with him to Paris when he becomes the American minister to France, and it is here she eventually learns of his relationship with Sally Hemings, a slave girl about her own age. According to the authors, it’s during these Paris years that Patsy falls in love with William Short, her father’s assistant and protégé who is an abolitionist and aspiring diplomat. Patsy is torn between love, principles, and family loyalty and questions whether she can be married to Tom and remain devoted to her father. This is a story of sacrifice and grit as Patsy tirelessly protects her father’s reputation and supports him as he guides and leads the nation he helped found.

Amazon Rating (September): 4.6 Stars

My Thoughts

If you’re looking for a highly readable narrative (I enjoyed the first person point of view) and an engaging book club selection because of its various themes, this might be an excellent choice! After my mother read it, we discussed it at length.  My review will consist of highlighting a few intriguing themes:

women’s lack of voice or choice/oppression of women

“And now I’d given up everything I’d ever dared to want for myself.
The convent. My dearest friends. William.

My inner feminist was raging during most of this story! It’s amazing to be transported back in time when women didn’t have a voice or certain rights or choices that we take for granted today (e.g. the father could simply decide to take the children if he were angry at his wife and sometimes this fact scared Patsy into submission). In addition, the lack of birth control certainly took a toll on women (Patsy had 11 children). To protect herself from having to bear more children, she considered arranging a mistress for her husband! Furthermore, if some men abused their wives, the women had very little protection or recourse because it was a man’s right to run his family as he thought was right.  It’s concerning to realize that women in some countries today don’t have the rights and protection that we have come to expect in this country. Another aspect of this theme is the idea that one avenue for women to find success, influence, or importance for themselves was to work under the umbrella of men in the family (a father or husband). Women could be influential as contributors but were not usually found driving agendas or enterprises of their own. As the story progressed, Patsy was able to exercise some voice: “My hand fell away from William’s grasp, and my voice no longer wavered. ‘I’m going to Virginia with my father, so if you love me, you’ll wait for me a little longer.’ ” A highlight is that Patsy did have two strong female mentors in Abigail Adams and Dolley Madison. The latter boldly stating: “There is only one secret to anything,” Dolley asserted, “and that’s the power we all have in forming our own destinies.”


Even though the Jefferson family suffered from bouts of poverty and misfortune, they were still speaking and acting from a position of privilege. In addition to having resources and support, their privilege also gave them the benefit of the doubt when their honor was at stake. Throughout the story, we explore inequality as it affects women, slaves, and the poor (non property owners).

father/daughter loyalty and devotion to family

Patsy’s relationship with her father, her loyalty and devotion, affected every relationship she had and heavily influenced all the major events in her life. It was a sad thread throughout the story that a child would feel so obligated to take on the burden of her father’s grief and well-being. Even though Patsy dearly loved her father, I didn’t view the relationship as mutually beneficial. From Patsy’s perspective it was sacrificial and duty bound; whereas, from Jefferson’s angle it was often controlling, manipulative, needy, selfish, and sometimes deceptive. Patsy did adopt some of her father’s deceptiveness however when she lied under oath in one circumstance (to protect family) and then manipulated other circumstances to keep her husband out of the military.  Finally, it was interesting to read about the sense of duty that grown children felt to care for their siblings (even as adults) when parents were gone. I wonder how many families today strongly hold that value.


One can identify several examples of sacrifice from multiple individuals throughout the story. Patsy definitely sacrificed over and over for her father and for the nation, her father sacrificed for the nation, Sally sacrificed the disclosure of her real relationship with Jefferson for his reputation, children sacrificed their own childhood to care for younger siblings, etc.

early stances on slavery

“Those slaves we knew, we saw their faces every day.
The idea of selling them was barbarous.”

It seems to this reader that keeping individuals as slaves must have seemed barbarous from the slaves’ point of view! Throughout the story, I wished that we could have heard from the perspective of Sally Hemings (and other slaves). So many of my recent historical fiction reads have been from the slaves’ perspective that I found myself missing that voice in this narrative. It was interesting that Patsy, even though she shared some of William’s abolitionist thinking, chose to buy her own slaves back in an act of compassion rather than free them or relinquish them to a worse future in the Deep South. Also astounding to modern-day readers is that Patsy couldn’t understand why the family slaves would want to be free since they were treated so well with the Jefferson family. The following justification for keeping Sally as a slave is offered:

“Someone with lighter skin she meant. Someone who behaved more like a servant so as to uphold the polite fiction of it all. Someone in the family.”


Patsy Jefferson exemplifies grit and symbolizes the mindset of other women of the time as well. She expresses the following thoughts: “From tattered flags and uniforms to friendships strained to the brink, the women of my country had always been the menders to all things torn asunder. But now we’d do more than patch with needle and thread. We’d have to weave together a whole tapestry of American life with nothing but our own hands, our own crops, and our own ingenuity. And I would prove myself able to the task.”

deathbed promises

The deathbed promise that Mrs. Jefferson exacted from Thomas Jefferson and Patsy affected the rest of their lives. This promise was not taken lightly and their duty to keep it was admirable. It would be interesting to explore if in our modern times, the bereaved would share this profound sense of obligation or if this is an old-fashioned value.

loyalty/devotion to country

A concern at the center of the Jefferson family’s decision-making was the welfare of the new nation. Patsy valued and supported her father’s efforts on behalf of the country, even agreeing to act as First Lady when Thomas Jefferson was elected President. I wonder what we are prepared to sacrifice for our country.

trials, triumphs, failures of a family

Readers are treated to an honest look at the Jefferson family, their successes, struggles, fears, flaws, and failures. In my opinion, one failure was Jefferson’s reluctance to weigh in on the abolitionist arguments and sentiments, preferring to leave that discussion to the next generation. However, he was a brilliant thinker and writer and I think the country might have benefited from his insightful reflections. It seemed that it was a concern for his own reputation that made it difficult for him to reconcile his own personal use of slaves when challenged with the ideas of abolition. This was an issue he chose to ignore and I lost respect for that. Thomas Jefferson had a paralysis when it came to slavery and the author compared it to handling a wolf:

“He couldn’t safely hold it or safely let it go.”

Jefferson’s children with Sally had to run away rather than be freed by him which must have grieved Sally. However, throughout the story, I think the reader grows to appreciate that the largest issues are complex for multiple reasons and are never black and white.

saving face/a perfect image/honor

One of the most important values of the day was honor and projecting a perfect image of self and the family. The slaves helped preserve that image as did extended family and relatives. In fact, protecting Jefferson’s reputation and image seemed to occupy a great deal of time in the story. It seems that without 24/7 media coverage, one had a much better chance of keeping secrets. What do you consider our culture’s greatest value?

In Virginia it wasn’t merely a matter of masculine pride–it was a matter of survival. Every loan for the farm, every advance of credit for seeds and foodstuffs, every public office and proposal of marriage depended on honor. Men would fight and die for it. And women would lie for it.”

imperfect people as leaders

Can imperfect people be good leaders and can they make important contributions to their country? Throughout the story we gain an understanding of Jefferson’s faults and flaws. This is where I wish the authors had done more to point out his unique contributions, especially because so much sacrifice from family members was required.

My IRL book club is discussing this book in October and I look forward to an interesting discussion!

My overall rating 5 stars (actually 4.5 rounded up to 5 on Goodreads)


Highly recommended for readers who enjoy an engaging, fast paced historical fiction story with relevant discussable themes.


America's First Daughter

Buy Here


Some readers express concern about the fictionalization of the Patsy Jefferson/William Short romance. In the afterward, the authors discuss their reasons for including the romantic relationship. Even though there is a lack of letters that support the connection, the authors cite the amount of circumstantial evidence and widely accepted assumptions as their justification. I thought the romantic drama helped add interest to the entire story, and it was an intrigue that affected many of the events throughout her life. After all, it is historical fiction and I expect that some aspects might be more fictionalized than others. It did not affect my enjoyment of the story.

One area in which I did have a small reservation is the lack of information about the accomplishments of Thomas Jefferson. I realize that this was Patsy’s story; however, if one lacked historical background regarding the accomplishments of the founding fathers, I think that reader would wonder why Jefferson is a celebrated founder. Here, we are certainly made aware of his flaws. I think in light of Patsy’s sacrifice it would have been helpful to know more specifically what this allowed her father to do for the country. This is not a reservation about what was included, rather it stems from a desire to know more.

Meet the Authors: Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie

Stephanie Dray

Stephanie Dray

Stephanie Dray is a New York Times, Wall Street Journal & USA Today bestselling author of historical women’s fiction. Her award-winning work has been translated into eight languages and tops lists for the most anticipated reads of the year. Before she became a novelist, she was a lawyer and a teacher. Now she lives near the nation’s capital with her husband, cats, and history books.

Laura Kamoie

Laura Kamoie

A New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestselling author of historical fiction, Laura Kamoie has always been fascinated by the people, stories, and physical presence of the past, which led her to a lifetime of historical and archaeological study and training. She holds a doctoral degree in early American history from The College of William and Mary, published two non-fiction books on early America, and most recently held the position of Associate Professor of History at the U.S. Naval Academy before transitioning to a full-time career writing genre fiction. She is the author of AMERICA’S FIRST DAUGHTER and MY DEAR HAMILTON, co-authored with Stephanie Dray, allowed her the exciting opportunity to combine her love of history with her passion for storytelling. Laura lives among the colonial charm of Annapolis, Maryland with her husband and two daughters.

Flight Pick

Sometimes if readers have enjoyed a story, they might want to read a similar selection. Abigail Adams makes an appearance in America’s First Daughter. While I have not read Dearest Friend by Lynne Withey, my mother highly recommends this book about Abigail Adams. It’s on my TBR.

Dearest Friend

More Information Here

Happy Reading Everyone!

“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke

Looking Forward!

Next week I’m thrilled to review Castle of Water by Dane Hucklebridge if you’d like to “buddy read.” It was unputdownable!

Castle of Water

Buy Here

Sharing is Caring:

I’d be honored and thrilled if you choose to enjoy and follow along, promote, and/or share my blog. Every share helps us grow.


If you’ve read or think you might want to read America’s First Daughter, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment section about the various themes.