TONY HILLERMAN served as president of the Mystery Writers of America and received the Edgar and Grand Master Awards. His other honors include the Center for the American Indian's Ambassador Award, the Spur Award for Best Western Novel, and the Navajo Tribal Council Special Friend of the Dineh award. A native of Oklahoma, Tony Hillerman lived in Albuquerque, New Mexico, until his death in 2008.
After a detour into the memoir genre with his well-received autobiography, Seldom Disappointed, Hillerman returns to his popular Southwestern mystery series. When rookie Navajo police officer Bernie Maneulito is accused of mishandling a murder scene, her superior (and secret crush) Sergeant Jim Chee consults the legendary Lt. Joe Leaphorn for advice. The retired cop is intrigued because the shooting death of Thomas Doherty has links to an old case he once investigated a case that involved the hunt for a legendary gold mine, the killing of a swindler, and the disappearance of a beloved wife. While this mystery is not as compelling as his early novels, Hillerman is still a master at combining fascinating Navajo lore, a hauntingly beautiful setting, and appealing characters into an entertaining read. Buy multiple copies for fans. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 2/15/02.] Wilda Williams, "Library Journal" Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
"Hillerman repeatedly shines in this masterfully complex new novel."--Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Adult/High School-Young Officer Bernadette Manuelito of the Navajo Tribal Police is pursuing routine duties when the dispatcher asks her to check out an abandoned truck in an arroyo. Bernie is no longer "the greenest rookie," but when she finds a murder victim she is inexperienced enough to make a big mistake. Still, her interest in botany leads her to collect some plant specimens at the crime scene, and they prove to be important clues. FBI agents soon take over the investigation; they are oblivious to any nuance of place or culture that could lead them to a solution. Sergeant Jim Chee, Bernie's supervisor, characteristically goes his own way. Meanwhile, Wiley Denton, a rich eccentric, has asked retired Lt. Joe Leaphorn to find his missing wife. The investigators set out in different directions, and the distances between them seem as vast and lonely as the New Mexico landscape. Having the advantage of following all three main characters, readers soon know where they are headed; the interest and suspense lie in seeing how these quirky and likable people occasionally glance off one another and exchange crucial information. Finally, Chee, Manuelito, and Leaphorn converge to see the whole picture. Hillerman's fans will enjoy revisiting these characters and their world, but newcomers will miss a lot, and would be better advised to read the earlier stories first.-Christine C. Menefee, Fairfax County Public Library, VA Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
The 15th Chee/Leaphorn mystery (after 1999's relatively weak Hunting Badger) finds MWA Grand Master Hillerman back at the top of his form as his two Navajo peace officers look into both a past and present mystery. Religious fervency and single-minded greed become strange but necessary bedfellows in a plot filled, as always, with insights into the lives and beliefs of the "Dineh." When an abandoned pickup truck turns out to contain one very dead white man, Sgt. Jim Chee's instincts lead him to bring retired Lt. Joe Leaphorn into the case. Leaphorn's trademark curiosity sends him in search of possible links between this homicide and another two years earlier. The first murder occurred on Halloween day when Wiley Denton supposedly shot Marvin McKay in self-defense after McKay tried to sell him bogus information about an old gold mine. That same day Denton's wife, Linda, disappeared; she has never been heard from again. Leaphorn's recollection of what had been shrugged off as a Halloween prank out at old Fort Wingate now becomes the itch he has to scratch. It seems a group of teens shortcutting across the area had endured a close call with La Llorana, a mythical wailing woman. The information he gathers adds yet another piece to the puzzle of the missing Linda. Chee is up to his elbows in not only the investigation but also in sorting through his growing emotional confusion about the beautiful Bernadette Manuelito. The seemingly insignificant turns critical and the loose ends tie up in one tidy conclusion as Hillerman repeatedly shines in this masterfully complex new novel. (On sale May 7) Forecast: The strength of this latest Chee/Leaphorn mystery, plus a major publicity push that includes national advertising and a three-city author tour, should ensure a healthy run on bestseller lists. Hillerman's recent memoir, Seldom Disappointed (Forecasts, Sept. 24, 2001), will also give a boost. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.