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Indian Killer

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  7,359 ratings  ·  605 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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Average rating 3.78  · 
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 ·  7,359 ratings  ·  605 reviews

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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
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.
“Son, things have never been like how you think they used to be.”
― Sherman Alexie, Indian Killer

Indian Killer is a highly disturbing but at the same time an amazingly written book. It is riveting.

I recently read this and felt a strong feeling of familiarity like I had read it before which I realized I had. Quite awhile ago.

I had this on my list for awhile. It is a very dark and bleak book and is not as you might think based on its title. It is a well written and complex story but because of how
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
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
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
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
Monica **can't read fast enough**
Dark read, but good. Review to come.
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
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
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
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
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
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 the 'United Sta ...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
I read this book for the ATY reading challenge Week 47: A book where the main character (or author) is of a different ethnic origin, religion, or sexual identity than your own.

This is a hard-hitting book. Sherman Alexie does not pull any punches. The scenes are graphically real. And you know, as the reader, that people are being treated this way today. Were treated this way yesterday. Will be treated this way tomorrow. Sad, but true. In the end, it is a who-done-it without a who. Reading through
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
Aug 13, 2007 rated it did not like it
His other books weren't available at the library, so I went for this one. It was an interesting comment on racial tensions, but seemed overstated, was extremely grotesque and had one of the worst, most unsatisfying endings I've ever read. The characters were more like charicatures and, even though it was listed as a mystery, the mystery is never solved. I'll have to read one of his other books to redeem my opinion of him.
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.
Heather Silvio
Oct 21, 2016 rated it did not like it
I loved Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian, and knew this would be different. But it was way too dark and negative for me. All of the characters are essentially miserable in their own way and I just didn't enjoy reading that.
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
Lisa M.
Oct 16, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, 2018
I have only read two of Sherman Alexie's books (one novel, one short story) and some of his poetry about 5 years ago. I always held him in high regard and have had this sitting on my shelf ever since. I write this to preface my thoughts about this novel compared to the others I have read by him.

I consider Stephen King's pen-name his surly, angry, perpetually dissatisfied, "angry white male" works. While the other books I have read by Alexie bring up similar themes/explore Native American anger,
White people are being killed in present- day Seattle, like how Indians are portrayed to have killed white settlers in the nineteenth century. Alexie introduces the reader to many Indians: John Smith, who was adopted by well-meaning white people, Marie Plotkin, a University student straight- off the rez, who is pissed off at her lit professor for not teaching Native writers and her cousin Reggie who had problems with the same professor in the Anthropology department and got thrown out of school. ...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.
Apr 26, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: have-ebook

“He thought about the beauty of myths and the power of lies, how myths told too often became lies, and how lies told too often became myths.” (Kindle Location 1,744)

Sherman Alexie is an outstanding storyteller. Indian Killer is a rather outstanding story. I did find the heaviness of the ‘angry Indian’ persona a bit off-putting, though. There seems to be an awful lot of ‘angry Indians’ in this tale.

Recommendation: Enjoy as an interesting story.

“Son, things have never
Pat Murphy
Dec 11, 2018 rated it liked it
Another recommendation by Goodreads. The book was ok. The story jumps around a lot which I have trouble with. (Can I end a sentence with the word with?) There is a certain amount of Native American spirituality in the story too. I could usually tell when a Native was dreaming or fantasizing, but it took some effort. The characters were interesting and the mystery is good too. The closer to the end the book got, the faster the pace. I found the basic characteristics of the Natives and the whites ...more
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Goodreads Librari...: Sherman Alexie - Indian Killer (German Edition) 4 15 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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As dedicated readers already know, some of the best and most innovative stories on the shelves come from the constantly evolving realm of young ad...
48 likes · 13 comments
“'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.”
“Despite all of the time he spent in Big Heart's, Wilson had never come to understand the social lives of Indians. He did not know that, in the Indian world, there is not much social difference between a rich Indian and a poor one. Generally speaking, Indian is Indian. A few who gain wealth and power as lawyers, businessmen, artists, or doctors may marry white people and keep only white friends, but generally Indians of different classes interact freely with one another. Most unemployed or working poor, some with good jobs and steady incomes, but all mixing together. Wilson also did not realize how tribal distinctions were much more important than economic ones. The rich and poor Spokanes may hang out together, but that doesn't necessarily mean the Spokanes are friendly with the Lakota or Navajo or any other tribe. The Sioux still distrust the Crow because they served as scouts for Custer. Hardly anybody likes the Pawnee. Most important, though, Wilson did not understand that the white people who pretend to be Indian are gently teased, ignored, plainly ridiculed, or beaten, depending on their degree of whiteness.” 5 likes
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