Killers of the Flower Moon

by

David Grann

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on Killers of the Flower Moon can help.

Killers of the Flower Moon: Chapter 11 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Hoover is anxious about growing criticism pertaining to the case and dissatisfied with White’s infrequent updates. Hoover begins studying reports about the Osage murders from his office in Washington and comes to believe that Necia Kenny, a white woman married to an Osage man, is a part of the conspiracy. Kenny, however, has a history of mental instability, and so Hoover himself has her interviewed in Washington. He realizes that despite her paranoia, she may be helpful in furnishing leads.
Hoover, due to his germophobia and meticulous personality, is not a field man, but because of his desire for control over the investigation he begins insinuating himself into White’s work even from afar.
Themes
American Entitlement, Greed, and Corruption Theme Icon
History, Truth, and Lies Theme Icon
By the end of July 1925, White has turned his “full attention” to Bryan Burkhart, Mollie’s brother-in-law—the last of the listed suspects in Anna Brown’s murder. Bryan’s alibi seems airtight, and yet when White sends his agents to corroborate it by interviewing Bryan’s uncle and aunt—who went with him to the musical on the night of Anna’s death—the couple seem nervous, and quickly state that Bryan was with them before ordering the agents out.
As White attempts to corroborate Bryan’s alibi, he runs into some people who seem irritated and even angered by the fact that someone is looking into Bryan at all.
Themes
American Entitlement, Greed, and Corruption Theme Icon
In August of 1925, White sends his undercover operatives to the town of Ralston to follow up a lead: on the night Anna Brown disappeared, she might have been spotted in a car by a group of men sitting in front of a hotel on Ralston’s main street. These witnesses’ valuable testimony was discarded by previous investigators, and White believes they have been paid by suspects to stay away.
White has begun to understand just how corrupt a place he’s been assigned to, and is now questioning everything as he moves forward, leaving no stone unturned and no suspicion uninvestigated.
Themes
American Entitlement, Greed, and Corruption Theme Icon
One of the witnesses—and his wife—agree to talk to the investigators, despite knowing how dangerous it is to be associated with the case. They confirm that Anna and Bryan Burkhart were together in a car in Ralston on the night of Anna’s murder. Bryan’s alibi has been cracked, and one of the agents reports back to White that Bryan has “perjured himself when he swore before the coroner’s inquest […] that he had left Anna safely at her home […] between 4:30 and 5 p.m.”
As White blows a hole in Bryan’s alibi, he comes to realize that Bryan did indeed have a role in Anna Brown’s murder—despite being a member of her extended family.
Themes
Racism and Exploitation Theme Icon
American Entitlement, Greed, and Corruption Theme Icon
Get the entire Killers of the Flower Moon LitChart as a printable PDF.
Killers of the Flower Moon PDF
White is now tasked with establishing where Anna and Bryan went after leaving Ralston. He makes a timeline: Bryan and Anna stopped at a series of speakeasies between Ralston and Fairfax and stayed out drinking until 1:00 a.m. Though witnesses’ testimony grows murky beyond that point, several report having seen Bryan and Anna with a “third man” that evening. The last sighting of them was at about 3:00 a.m., when a witness who knew them both heard a car stop near her house and heard Bryan shouting at Anna to “stop [her] foolishness.” After that, Anna disappears from the timeline—but Bryan’s neighbor spotted him returning home at sunrise, and Bryan gave the man money to “keep quiet” about having seen him. White wonders why Bryan would have killed Anna, whether he is involved in the other murders, and who exactly the “third man” could be.
As White continues investigating and building a timeline, the things he unearths make Bryan look guiltier and guiltier. White knew there was corruption afoot on the Osage reservation—but now must confront that family members are, perhaps, killing family members in a desperate grab for riches. Nothing here is sacred other than money.
Themes
Racism and Exploitation Theme Icon
American Entitlement, Greed, and Corruption Theme Icon
Family, Legacy, and Trauma Theme Icon