A serious true crime spell-binder and a light, fun read

By Lynda Rego
Posted 11/21/23

I read “Killers of the Flower Moon” before all the movie hoopla started. The film doesn’t sound as accurate as the book by David Grann, which I highly recommend. For something …

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A serious true crime spell-binder and a light, fun read


I read “Killers of the Flower Moon” before all the movie hoopla started. The film doesn’t sound as accurate as the book by David Grann, which I highly recommend. For something lighter, another offering by Ann Garvin is a lot of fun.

“Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI” (2017) by David Grann. Grann’s spell-binding books about true crimes and historical events are meticulously researched and excellent reads.

This one is mesmerizing, terrifying and sounds too bizarre to be true. What was left of the Osage Nation was pushed onto one of the least hospitable pieces of land in Oklahoma. Then, when oil was discovered there in the early 1920s, members of the tribe were suddenly the richest people per capita in the world. The headrights of each member could not be sold, only inherited; and, then the tribal members started to die – shootings, accidents, a house blown up and some by an insidious illness. And, anyone who looked too closely at the deaths died, too.

Grann focuses the story on Molly Burkhart, her white husband, Ernest, Molly’s sisters and the cabal of white “helpers” around them and their neighbors. Because the Native Americans were deemed unable to handle their own wealth, they were saddled with white administrators who managed the funds for them.

Finally, the FBI steps in. The new entity, headed by J. Edgar Hoover, puts a former Texas Ranger, Tom White, in charge of the investigation. White knows the danger he’s in and is quick to create a team of undercover operatives, including a Native American, who unearth one of the most horrific plots imaginable — fraud, greed and the betrayal of some Osage women by their own husbands. The book outlines about 20 deaths, but Grann estimated that many more Osage were killed for their wealth before the perpetrators were caught.

“There’s No Coming Back from This” (2023) by Ann Garvin. Single parent Poppy Lively is a mess. The family business is in free-fall and an accountant embezzled all her money. The IRS is hounding her, she could lose the house and has no money to hold her daughter’s place at college. Her teenage daughter is heading to NYC for a job for the summer. And, Poppy expects to have the financial mess solved by fall. But, how?

Then she gets an offer from an old boyfriend to serve in the wardrobe department on a movie set in Hollywood. Three as he likes to be called (his name is Herman) was charismatic and 10 years younger than her. They had one whirlwind year together.

Three makes it sound as if housing is included, but once she drives her van to LA, Poppy discovers it’s not, and she has to struggle to find a place to sleep as she maneuvers around the politics of the movie set, where Three is a producer. The job is non-stop, she’s at the bottom of the hierarchy in wardrobe, and a “normal” among the movie stars.

As Poppy deals with the chaos of the movie set, her daughter’s phone calls, and her own issues stemming from her mother’s leaving, she finds a strength she will need to get through it all. This book has a lot of heart, humor and a little mystery. What’s going on in the wardrobe department? Why did Poppy’s predecessor get fired?

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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.