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Indian Killer

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  6,695 Ratings  ·  554 Reviews
A murderer is stalking and scalping white men in Seattle, his calling card a pair of feathers crossed on the victim's chest. While this so-called Indian Killer terrorises the city, its Native American population is thrown into turmoil. With each new murder, the city is gripped by fear, and as the killer searches for his latest victim, the novel builds to its unexpected and ...more
Paperback, 432 pages
Published 1998 by Vintage (first published 1996)
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The Shayne-Train
Dec 31, 2013 rated it really liked it
Wow, I love those little gems that you read "just 'cause" and turn out to be amazing.

Now, I'll say up front, I very rarely read paper books. Since my introduction to e-reading, that's all I want. Why? Because I can take a break from my book and Crush some Candy or snipe at a digital wildebeest or do a Sudoku, and then go right back to my book, ALL ON THE SAME MIRACULOUS GADGET! What a sci-fi world we live in, right? (Plus, if i'm eating chicken wings for lunch while reading, i can just tap the s
Taryn Pierson
Nov 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poc-author
I've read Sherman Alexie before, but—honesty time—I never really got what the big deal was. I read The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian because I was a teacher back in the day and I thought some of my students might like it, but I wasn't the target audience and it was just okay for me. I read Reservation Blues because it's on just about every list of recommended books by Native American writers, and although I found it to be solid literary fiction, for me it wasn't particularly affect ...more
Eryn Paull
Jan 26, 2014 rated it did not like it
Sherman Alexie is a self-important, whiny alarmist, and a really bad writer.
This book is all about "Beware the Red Peril!" and has portrayed White/Indian race relations at their c. 1876 peak...
What an asshole.

By the way, I'm Native.
Jun 23, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who have dealt with white guilt
This was my introduction to Sherman Alexie, and I still think it is his best work that I've read to date. The title itself made me question my thought processes, as I immediately envisioned a book replaying and displaying the historical themes of colonization and genocide against Native Americans in a modernized plot. This is, of course, what Alexie is doing, but the story centers around a couple of local murders attributed to an "Indian Killer" -- an Indian who kills, not someone who kills Indi ...more
Jul 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Sherman Alexie's Indian Killer eschews the straight-up spectacle of a racially motivated serial killer mystery (with its potential for red herrings and dramatic climaxes) and instead savors the subtlety of innumerable racially conflicted characters who seem equally capable of murder--and leaves the whodunnit unanswered.

I have an undeniable fondness for Alexie (I'm already planning how to teach his The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian at the beginning of the next school year). One of t
Walk-Minh Allen
Apr 14, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This novel is a ghost story, a murder mystery, a psychological thriller, and a historical narrative reflecting the slow erosion of the native peoples of North America. It was uncomfortable to read, yet comforting to know that I’m not alone in my observations and my interpretations of the facts behind the systematic destruction, abuse, and dissolution of the first people over the past three to four centuries. And, to focus the issues and themes of cultural domination and destruction through the p ...more
Edwin Priest
Sep 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Powerful and disturbing, this book will shake you up and push on your comfort zones. It is a dark and meaningful tale full of racial tensions, prejudices and insanity. A serial killer in Seattle sets off a cascade of reactions and violence in and against the Indian community in Seattle. The characters are deep and conflicted, a complex mix of the well-meaning, the angry and the alienated, and they all swirl together in a convoluted clash of tension and tumult. And ultimately in the end, Indian K ...more
Celeste Fairchild
Mar 06, 2014 rated it it was ok
I've heard Alexi disavow this book publicly, so I don't feel bad giving it a negative review despite adoring the author. It's an angry book, and in an unhelpful way -- it doesn't have sympathy for some of its own characters.

There's also the fact that it's a mystery without a solution. I'm all for genre-bending, but this was one of the least satisfying endings I've ever read.

It seems like an immature book, something he wrote before he'd worked out a lot of what makes him a great author.

Read his
Monica **can't read fast enough**
Dark read, but good. Review to come.
Matt Garcia
Dec 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a very tough book for me to rate. Did I enjoy it? Well...kinda. Alexie is a talented writer and this being one of his earlier works, I can see the writer that he will become. This is a dark, bleak, and melancholy novel centered around racism, inequality, hate, stereotypes, gender bias, racially formed identity, homelessness, and many other unsavory, unfortunate, and/or difficult concepts, ideals, and situations. The characters were all troubled and highly unlikable. The only one that I ...more
Aug 18, 2009 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: People who like psychological thrillers
I picked up Indian Killer at the library because I'm on a Sherman Alexie kick and this was the only book of his available. Being a psychological thriller about murder, it's not exactly the type of book I normally read. I was a bit apprehensive as I started reading, afraid I'd get nightmares or something, but the book quickly drew me in.

Indian Killer explores themes of identity and isolation across whites and Native Americans. There's the Indian man, adopted by white parents, who longs to be a "r
Adrian Stumpp
The mixture of politics and art is always a dicey subject for me. I tend to be against it, since nearly all art composed in the name of a political cause is terrible. A recent exception to this is Sherman Alexie's Indian Killer, though I feel it is not nearly as good as it would have been had political voice not been the driving motivation behind it. Indeed, Indian Killer is chilling, and for all of the reasons Alexie does not want it to be. Alexie takes the leitmotif of the murder mystery for h ...more
Stefanie Kern
Dec 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sherman Alexie’s novels were the topic of my final paper at the university so yes, there might be some bias here but I deeply care about this angry, driven piece of literature and about Alexie’s literature in general.
The story revolves around some gruesome ritual murders with supposed Native American background, and paints a multilayered picture of the relationships between whites and Native Americans. Interestingly, the question of „whodunnit“ is gradually pushed into the background in favour
Jesse Lehrer
Jul 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Another fantastic Sherman Alexie book - can he do no wrong? CAN HE?

This was one of the most directly brutal books of his I have read. Due to the intense theme of racially motivated murder and violence Alexie successfully explores much of the hatred, prejudice, ignorance, anger, frustration, and more felt in America. He manages to explain and sympathize with the violent actions of his mentally ill protagonist but not justify them - something crucial to understanding race in America. The ending o
Aug 23, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: literature
This starts off w/ a melodramatic bang worthy of Michael Crichton &/or Dean Koontz.. It's a thriller.. but it's a thriller w/ something that Crichton & Koontz will never have: a subtext of sensitizing the reader to American 'Indians'.. & there's no simple resolution. There're plenty of characters, the most sympathetic for me being probably the activist Marie Polatkin, the one who articulates the most accurately (IMO). The complex issue of relations between 'Whites' & "Indians' in ...more
Dec 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
Maybe it is partly because this was the first novel I read in six months, but I basically devoured this book and really enjoyed it all the way through. Great pace, great characters, good suspense, funny in parts. I really appreciated that Alexie made almost everyone at least a little sympathetic - even the characters that I really expected to dislike. Even the terrible people usually had a least one moment of humanity, so the reader could glimpse something good in them.
Also, I love books that zi
Artnoose McMoose
Jan 26, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: white people
This is the second Sherman Alexie book I have read. It's about a serial killer in Seattle whose victims are white males. It also follows several different characters, all of whom could be the serial killer. Meanwhile, racial tensions in Seattle mount and racially motivated violence spirals upward.

Alexie's two main questions seem to be: 1. What makes someone a "real" Indian? and 2. What to do with all these white people? Some of the Native folks in his books know their ancestral languages and so
I usually steer clear of this genre of novel. A serial killer roams Seattle. Sympathetic characters die or are threatened. Loving parents suffer. The book is well plotted and there's an element of real mystery to the suspense--could reality be driven by a vengeful spirit born out of centuries of wrongs done to Native Americans? Alexie does a great job depicting how white folks believing themselves to be experts in North American Indians come across to Native Americans. Some characters--sandwich ...more
Ksenia Anske
Nov 17, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A gritty tale on racism, purposeful, to smash your face, to wake you up. Hilarious and true, magical and bitter, smart, cunningly written; you read it in one gulp and wonder where the time went. This book has teeth. It's feral. It will munch you away.
Apr 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
A killer stalks Seattle, leaving what seems to all intents and purposes to be Native American markers at each kill site – which sets up this impressive example of Sherman Alexis oeuvre as a crime novel or thriller, and it is, but not in the classic generic sense. Rather than explore the search for the killer, Alexie builds a two layered plot. In the first a radio ‘shock jock’ (as the Australians amongst others call populist, right wing, social reactionary talk radio hosts) lays the base for an a ...more
Ryk Stanton
Feb 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I regretted every time I had to put this book down - I can give no higher praise. I checked myself at 95%, *still* didn't know who the killer was, and felt really good about that. The writing is fluid and mesmerizing, the characters deep and compelling, and the plot relentlessly interesting.

If you haven't read anything by Sherman Alexie yet, I really recommend that you do. He has a unique voice in literature.
This book knocked me on my ass. Even when I wasn't reading it, I was thinking about it all day. Highly recommended.
Liz Stabbert
Aug 16, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: didn-t-finish
As I was reading this book I was aware that I didn't really like it, but at the same time I was compelled to keep reading it. That's why I gave it two stars instead of only one (though frankly I feel that's a little generous), because there was just something that kept drawing me in. That all stopped, however, about two thirds of the way into the book, when it essentially became a contest between whites and Indians of who could do the most hideous thing to complete innocent strangers. At that po ...more
Set in the Pacific Northwest, INDIAN KILLER is the intertwining stories of multiple characters caught in an upwind of racial anger. A serial killer is targeting white men and scalping them, raising a fear and a fury within the white community and confusion among Native Americans. Racial tension mounts and mounts, as a talk radio host fans the flames with his show and deems the murderer the 'Indian Killer'. In the middle is John Smith, an Indian man adopted at birth by a white family, who is tryi ...more
Mark Stevens
Feb 07, 2013 rated it liked it
There’s an admirable premise at work in “Indian Killer,” in which Sherman Alexie uses the plot of a serial killer on the loose to run through just about every attitude and thought about racism in the United States—in particular racism aimed at American Indians.

Written in 1996, “Indian Killer” is hardly a taut murder mystery and it’s a bit loosely jointed, at least for my tastes, to be considered a literary classic.

The story’s central character is John Smith, an Indian who was adopted at birth b
Curt Bobbitt
Jul 17, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of Alexie's fiction, fans of fiction involving novelists as characters
Recommended to Curt by: A colleague from Michigan
One of Alexie's characters in this novel is a writer of books similar in subject to this novel. Like Charles Dickens, John Irving, Philip Roth, Stephen King, and Richard Ford, Alexie includes the creative process as one of the important plot conflicts. Jack Wilson, the writer, is an ex-cop claiming to be of Indian descent. One of his books appears on the reading list of a university class about Native American literature, a choice that enrages one of the students.

One of the most hateful characte
Jun 28, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: sherman alexie fan, those interested in issues of identity
Shelves: booksofthepast
The Indian Killer is a departure from much of Alexie's other works, just as his poetry and short fiction are departures from one another. The book tells the story of a Native American serial killer is Seattle who scalps and murders white victims; of John Smith, a Native American who was adopted as a baby by affluent white parents; of Marie Polatkin, a fiery Native American activist and student; and of several white characters who are certain they understand the "Indian condition" while in genera ...more
Apr 03, 2009 rated it really liked it
I almost never read murder mysteries, but this one is written by Sherman Alexie,and I loved The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. There's very little endearing humor in this one, but I will give it a chance.

This book is harsh and disturbing, but readable. John, the main character, is revealed to be mentally unstable. We are to assume that this is the result of being separated from his specific Native heritage -- he knows he was born to an Indian mother, but the adoption records are se
Ms. Jared
Apr 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
I really, really liked this one. I don't even know how to describe it. It's a mystery, allegory, social many things in one.

It's the story of John Smith, a Native American (Indian in this novel) taken from his young mother at birth and given to a white couple to raise, and the psychic and emotional harm that caused him. And it's the story of a killer (suspected Indian) who is killing white men in Seattle and the racial hatred and violence that incites against the local Indians and
Aug 23, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-western
A cool ethnography of Seattle's Indian population-- Alexie's characters repeatedly confront challenges to their sense of "indian-ness." From Jack Wilson, the white writer who creates a community for himself by coopting indian culture, to John Smith, an Indian man adopted at birth by white parents, the characters struggle with their indian identity. I was left with a sense of the ambiguities that come along with "indian-ness." Alexie's characters try to discover what it means but often end up def ...more
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Goodreads Librari...: Sherman Alexie - Indian Killer (German Edition) 4 14 Jun 12, 2014 11:03AM  
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Sherman J. Alexie, Jr., was born in October 1966. A Spokane/Coeur d'Alene Indian, he grew up on the Spokane Indian Reservation in Wellpinit, WA, about 50 miles northwest of Spokane, WA. Alexie has published 18 books to date.
Alexie is an award-winning and prolific author and occasional comedian. Much of his writing draws on his experiences as a modern Native American. Sherman's best known works in
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“'s like this white-Indian thing has gotten out of control. And the thing with the blacks and the Mexicans. Everybody blaming everybody...I don't know what happened. I can't explain it all. Just look around at the world. Look at this country. Things just aren't like they used to be.'

'Son, things have never been like what you think they used to be.”
“The killer simply picked any one of the men in gray suits and followed them from office building to cash machine, from lunchtime restaurant back to office building. Those gray suits were not happy, yet showed their unhappiness only during moments of weakness. Punching the buttons of a cash machine that refused to work. Yelling at a taxi that had come too close. Insulting the homeless people who begged for spare change. But the killer also saw the more subtle signs of unhappiness. A slight limp in uncomfortable shoes. Eyes closed, head thrown back while waiting for the traffic signal. The slight hesitation before opening a door. The men in gray suits wanted to escape, but their hatred and anger trapped them.” 5 likes
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