First there was the trouble at Saint Boneventure boarding school. A teacher is dead, a boy is missing, and a councilwoman has put a lot of pressure on Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn and Officer Jim Chee to find her grandson. Sitting on a rooftop watching sacred clowns perform their antics in a Pueblo ceremony, Chee spots the boy. Then, suddenly, the crowd is in commotion. One of the clowns has been savagely murdered.
Without a single clue, Chee and Leaphorn must follow a serpentine trail through the Indian clans and nations, seeking the thread that links two brutal murders, a missing teenager, a band of lobbyists trying to put a toxic dump site on Pueblo land, and an invaluable memento given to the tribes by Abraham Lincoln in a fast-paced, flawless mystery that is Hillerman at his lyrical, evocative, spellbinding best.
©1993 Tony Hillerman (P)2013 HarperCollinsPublishers
Love books! Classics and lighter fiction, mysteries (not too violent please :-). And selective non-fiction--whatever takes my fancy.
The late Tony Hillerman wrote a memorable series (recently brought back to life by his daughter!) that gives beautiful insights into Native American culture and history, coupled with very good mysteries.
In this one Lt. Joe Leaphorn and Officer Jim Chee are working side by side--aware of each other's cases, but not exactly focused on the same one (even though, of course, they will eventually tie together). It begins with Officer Chee watching a Pueblo ceremony that includes Sacred Clowns. He should be keeping his eye on a young boy that will soon go missing, just as one of the clowns will soon be murdered. This book has the usual good sense of mystery--of complicated situations that parallel each other for a while before their connections are felt. But beyond that, and what makes these so special, is the sense of being brought into a way of life that is fascinating.
Officer Chee is often at odds with himself over his calling--he wants to be a police officer, but is deeply connected to the spiritual, healing community--which looks at human behavior a bit differently. This book offers a beautiful example of the difference between the usual police procedures and the way the Navajo regard dealing with human mistakes. There is a great deal of compassion in the unique way that Officer Chee will handle one of the several story lines in this wonderful book.
It is hard to find enough ways to recommend this book, and this entire series! The narration is quite good, and I just didn't want the story to end!
I read this book many years ago and I was delighted to see it come out on Audible. While it is a straightforward police procedural and two murders occur in it, there is so much more at stake than solving the crime. The two iconic characters, Jim Chee and Joe Leaphorn, each solitary men at the beginning of the novel, find love by the end of it. Lovely stuff. If you are new to Tony Hillerman or a fan from way back, I highly recommend this audiobook.
I am fond of all the regulars in this series, of course. I did appreciate the comic quality of the character of Harold Blizzard, who inadvertanly helps Jim Chee solve his murder case and his love problem simultaneously. Clever stuff.
Mr. Baskous has a lovely voice and his narration perfectly captures Hillerman's vivid descriptions of the dramatic beauty of the landscape on the Navajo Reservation as well as the more personal revelations of the principle characters. Hillerman's novels are famous for having lots of the "action" occur in the minds of the two detectives, with intimate examinations of their thoughts about the tribal world they live in and the universe at large. This novel takes on big questions in a quiet and contemplative manner. Mr. Baskous expresses all of the actions, observations and expressions of philosophy with proper reverence while creating distinct characterizations of many different voices in the novel.
I was tempted to listen to it all at one sitting, but eight hours plugged into my headphones is a little hard to fit into my schedule! I ended up listening to it in three big chunks, kind of like watching a compelling mini-series on television. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
There is some real wisdom in this novel, along with a very sweet dual-track love story. I confess, I listened to Chapter 26 twice. Check it out if you want to find out why!
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