The themes of abuse of power, injustice, and lack of remorse are prominent in Linda Hogan's book Mean Spirit. The Blanket and Graycloud families stand at the heart of fictional account of real events that took place in Watona, Oklahoma in the early 1920s. Oil has been discovered on Osage Indian land, and suddenly, landowners find themselves in serious danger.
Grace Blanket is the first one to die, and her own daughter, Nola, watches in horror as men in a black car kill her mother and make the death look like a suicide. She and the friend who is with her, Rena Graycloud, are too frightened to go to the authorities, and the Graycloud family knows that they would receive nothing in the way of real justice in any case. Therefore, they remain quiet and try to protect Nola, who is the heir to her mother's land.
As time passes, more and more Osage landowners die, and people realize that there is a deep conspiracy at work that involves high-level officials and even the sheriff's office. Those in power are using it for ill purposes. John Hale is especially suspicious, but he also has a lot of power and wealth, and he offers loans to the Osage if they will let him take out life insurance policies on them. Then, not long after, many of them end up dead. Since the murders continue, those responsible clearly feel no remorse at their deeds. They are focused on obtaining valuable land any way they can and growing wealthy. They are also determined to cover up their misdeeds.
The community writes to Washington DC to request an investigation, but no one takes any particular notice—no one, that is, except Stace Red Hawk, who is appalled by the abuses, injustices, and violence rampant in Watona. He disguises himself as a medicine man and begins his investigation. Soon, he realizes that the conspiracy is much hirer and broader than John Hale, and he cannot even trust his own colleagues.
Meanwhile, the government and Indian Agency are failing to help the people of Watona. The government decides that the Osage are acting irresponsibly with their money, and it withholds oil royalty payments (completely unjustly, of course, because it is none of the government's business how the landowners spend their money). The Indian Agency even leases part of Belle Graycloud's land to John Hale without her permission, again in an extreme abuse of power.
In the end, even though John Hale goes to prison, the Grayclouds must flee Watona for their lives, even as a bomb destroys their house. Nothing has truly been solved. The injustice, abuse of power, and lack of remorse continue.