ABSTRACT

David Grann’s Killers of the Flower Moon is a generic hybrid: literary journalism, true crime tale of the Wild West, and whodunit. I argue that the activation of different sets of reader expectations for these genres gives it an extraordinarily powerful political impact. Based on reviews and reader responses on Amazon and Goodreads and on the genre characteristics of the narrative itself, I make the case that Grann satisfies readers’ expectations for formula Westerns and classical detective stories in the first two parts (i.e., solving the crime and arresting the bad guy), only to undermine them in the final section, in which just about all the white citizens in the county emerge as complicit with the crimes. Further, Killers of the Flower Moon–like many true-crime stories–offers a feminist critique of the romance plot by unveiling how happily-ever-after marriages can turn violent and abusive for women.

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