Mini Mystery Writing Contest

“The perennial questions in the Osage land is, ‘who will be next?'”
-Daily Oklahoman reporter, quoted in “Killers of the Flower Moon” by David Grann

Photo of William Hale

Many members of the Osage Nation in 1920s Oklahoma lived in constant fear for their lives. They lost many friends and family to murders that were seldom solved or fairly investigated. Taking inspiration from this history as presented in “Killers of the Flower Moon,” we invite you to use the line, “Who will be next?” as a springboard for — and the first sentence of — a mini mystery story of your own. While the experiences of those in our One Read book were very real, your mystery can be completely fiction. The puzzle presented or the crime solved can be large (like a murder) or small (like missing possessions), but the writing must be about a crime or the threat or fear of one. The length limit for these mini mysteries is 250 words.

Enter starting August 31 using this form. You can also mail in your entry or drop it off at any library or bookmobile stop. (See full rules below for details.) Winning entries and honorable mentions will be published on this site and in the Columbia Missourian. Winners will receive a $25 bookstore gift card.

Participants must be age 16 or older and residents of Boone or Callaway Counties. Read on for complete contest rules.

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Beneath the Surface: One Read Art Exhibit Call for Submissions

Beneath the Surface
A One Read Art Exhibit
Orr Street Studios (106 Orr Street, Columbia)

“In May, when coyotes howl beneath an unnervingly large moon, taller plants, such as spiderworts and black-eyed Susans, begin to creep over the tinier blooms, stealing their light and water. The necks of the smaller flowers break and their petals flutter away, and before long they are buried underground.”
~ David Grann, “Killers of the Flower Moon”


Hidden: woman out of focus

Inspired by the 2018 One Read selection’s many-layered mysteries, we invite Mid-Missouri artists ages 16 and older to contribute works that explore what lies beneath the surface — of land, of water, the mask of a loved-one’s face or a well-worn story. Expose something hidden.

Cash prizes will be awarded for three winners, courtesy of Columbia’s Office of Cultural Affairs. The third place winner will receive $50, the second place winner $75 and the first place winner $125. First place will also receive a one-year membership to the Columbia Art League.

Art will be displayed August 29 – September 29 at Orr Street Studios (see for hours) with a reception and awards on Friday, September 7 at 6 p.m.

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2018 One Read Winner: About “Killers of the Flower Moon” and David Grann

About the Book

Killers of the Flower Moon book cover“Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI” is a compelling work of true crime that will captivate fiction and nonfiction readers alike.

When white settlers pushed the Osage Nation into Oklahoma in the 1800s, the tribe retained the mineral rights to the infertile land they were forced to call home. The subsequent discovery of oil made the Osage rich, and the U.S. government appointed white “guardians” to help manage their wealth. In the early 1920s, a number of Osage Indians suddenly died under mysterious circumstances or were outright murdered. This campaign of terror spurred young J. Edgar Hoover and his newly established FBI to investigate, ultimately uncovering shocking depths of greed, bigotry and corruption. David Grann’s dogged research and spellbinding storytelling combine to create a riveting true-crime narrative. Read More

2018 List of Suggested Titles

Each winter, the public submits suggestions for next year’s One Read book. In January, a panel of community members reviews the suggestions, narrowing that list down to 10 titles, and then chooses two or three books to present for a public vote.

Final 10 Selections

Behold the Dreamers
Imbolo Mbue

Being Mortal
Atul Gawande

Days Without End
Sebastian Barry

Furiously Happy
Jenny Lawson

Killers of the Flower Moon (Winner)
David Grann

The New Jim Crow
Michelle Alexander

News of the World (Runner-up)
Paulette Jiles

The Underground Railroad
Colson Whitehead

The Unsettlers
Mark Sundeen

The Wanderers
Meg Howrey

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