Killers of the Flower Moon


David Grann

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Killers of the Flower Moon: Chapter 16 Summary & Analysis

Though White and his men are making progress, they still have no physical evidence or credible witnesses to use in their case against Hale. Without an airtight case, White knows he’ll never be able to bring down a man who is hiding behind such a veneer of respectability, and who holds such great influence over Osage County. White and his agents compile a list of all those under White’s control, and it includes Scott Mathis—the Big Hill Trading Company owner—along with several members of the police force, the mayor of Fairfax, and several local and federal officials. White knows that the struggle to obtain justice is just beginning—but is also aware that back in Washington, Hoover is growing impatient.
As White considers what it would mean to actually try to take Hale down, he comes to realize just how vast the man’s network of influence it is. It seems that he has everybody in his pocket—and White, as an outsider, is worried that he doesn’t stand a chance against such a stacked deck.
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Hoover wants White’s investigation to be “a showcase” for the new, restructured bureau. Hoover, too, longs to cast himself as “a crusader for the modern scientific age,” ushering in an era of science and protocol as opposed to the old days of sleuths and cowboys. Hoover “radically streamline[s]” the bureau, purging from it any agents who do not meet his high standards. Hoover overhauls the bureau’s policies on how agents gather and process information, and, through his reforms, agents become “interchangeable cogs,” a significant departure from traditional policing, “where lawmen [are] typically products of their own communities.” This change helps insulate agents from local corruption but ignores—and underprepares agents to handle—regional differences. 
While White is toiling in Oklahoma, Hoover is clipping and pruning here and there throughout the bureau in order to tailor things to his own liking. White knows that his job and reputation are on the line, and that if he does not give Hoover the positive “showcase” he so desperately wants, there will be consequences.
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Agents are trained in “scientific policing,” such as fingerprint and ballistics techniques, and are taught formal rules of evidence-gathering. Many agents “despise” these new edicts and vast changes, and White, too, “chafe[s]” at many of the reforms—yet he adheres Hoover’s new protocols, replaces his cowboy hat with a fedora, and toes the line.
White doesn’t agree with all of Hoover’s changes, but does his best to stay in line—and even begins compromising parts of his identity in order to better serve the new bureau.
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