Anne Hillerman, the talented daughter of best-selling author Tony Hillerman, continues his popular Leaphorn and Chee series with Spider Woman's Daughter, a Navajo Country mystery, filled with captivating lore, startling suspense, bold new characters, vivid color, and rich Southwestern atmosphere.
Navajo Nation Police Officer Bernadette Manualito witnesses the cold-blooded shooting of someone very close to her. With the victim fighting for his life, the entire squad and the local FBI office are hell-bent on catching the gunman. Bernie, too, wants in on the investigation, despite regulations forbidding eyewitness involvement. But that doesn't mean she's going to sit idly by, especially when her husband, Sergeant Jim Chee, is in charge of finding the shooter.
Bernie and Chee discover that a cold case involving his former boss and partner, retired Inspector Joe Leaphorn, may hold the key. Digging into the old investigation, husband and wife find themselves inching closer to the truth...and closer to a killer determined to prevent justice from taking its course.
©2013 Anne Hillerman (P)2013 HarperCollins Publishers
Special thanks to Sasha, Stacy and Stef for sharing the Audible experience with me and being the best of company during my recovery.
The later books in the Jim Chee/ Joe Leaphorn Navaho series saga were lacking in comparison with his earlier works. His daughter's work (at least I assume this is his daughter) doesn't greatly reverse this slide. Officer Bernadette Manuelito is too broadly drawn to be a strong main character. the only thing we know about her for sure is that she resents her husband Jim Chee giving her directions; much less orders. This despite the fact that he is her superior officer.
The culprit in the book is obvious before you reach the halfway point. Despite this, both professional police officers and the FBI are don't perceive it until the the last hour of the audiobook. The relationship between 'Bernie' and her family never rises above obvious cliches and her sister is so entirely unsympathetic her problems so obviously self induced it wasn't possible to care much for her troubles.
The biggest problem I had with the audiobook though; was the reader. Perhaps it would not have mattered who replaced George Guidall; it wouldn't have been the same. This reader certainly wasn't up to the task. Perhaps it was Guidall who mispronounced Navaho words for the first fifteen or so works; but I doubt it. Christina Delaine might improve over time but to those who've listened to the series read by George Guidall it won't be the same.
Certain elements of the mystery were well done. The story dovetailed nicely with a previous Hillerman work and the intricate murder plot was nicely done. If you appreciated the last few Tony Hillerman Navaho cop books this one will at least match those; particularly the last two. For those of you who were fans of the earlier books in the series; save your credit.
I would like to give Anne Hillerman another chance but not the narrator!
I, like other reviewers, had the villian figured out half way through book!! Which left later part of book's supense dependent on Leaphorn's outcome & how all the involved agencies would finally figure out 'who dun it'!
Even taking into consideration my bias toward Geo Guidall as narrator of Tony Hillerman's books I absolutely could not get into Delaine's narration!! The navajo female voices all sounded the same and the males feminine. Ugh.
The sister was unredeemable as written and I was left hanging as to her outcome or how 'stooped boy' played into her character.
Prehaps I had too high of hope for this book. Those were mighty big shoes to fill and I really felt Tony himself was having difficulty filling his own shoes the last several books. They just weren't up to the first ones!
I was skeptical about how well anyone could do with characters so recognizable as Chee and Leaphorn. But this author has captured her father's style and story-telling technique very nicely, The Navaho traditions appear as naturally as you would expect, and all the elements are as familiar as a favorite pair of slippers. All of this is wrapped around a mystery as prickly as the plants of the desert home of Chee and Leaphorn.
Bernie and Jim and the tribal police struggle as they try to solve this shooting without the insights of Leaphorn's years of experience. More than one mystery needs to be solved, adding to the confusion. Another great storyteller comes to the fore, and I would love to read more by Anne Hillerman.
My sole distraction was the reader. Years in the southwest has taught me that Navaho and most other Native peoples of this area, speak exactly as you and I do. Christina Delaine made nearly every native speaker sound if they were barely in touch with English. They sounded wooden, stilted and like they were acting in a badly directed and stereotyped play at a small-town production where Navaho characters would be exotic. If the story hadn't kept me involved I would have quit listening long before the end. Surely, someone must have heard how badly done this was performed. They should have caught this long before it went public. She did very poor service to the story, the characters and the author, who did a magnificent job of recreating the world of her father's stories.
This is a weak book. The plot was okay and it had a Southwestern ambiance was there, but it was almost impossible to get by the horrible narration.
A lot of the Navajo sounded mispronounced to me and the Navajo accent was way off (I have lived and worked in the Southwest for many years and have had many Navajo coworkers). Even some of the Spanish was mispronounced. The Navajos, especially the Captain, sounded more like Italian mobsters than anything else. All-in-all, I had a terrible time getting past the narration to hear the story. Some of the characters were weak and stereotyped.
I hope this writer tries again and goes on to develop a stronger voice. I hope either the narrator does more research on how words and place names are pronounced. It was a decent first effort to fill some mighty big shoes, marred by the worst narration I have come across on Audible.
Like all Tony Hillman fans I LOVE Leaphorn and Chee, I am very grateful Anne took the incredibly brave step in writing this book. No one should expect it to be on par with her father's books.I hope she continues with the series . With time and help from a good team she will develop her own following for the Chee's and their Uncle.
While the narrator is obviously very talented and did a good job with some of the Navajo patterns of speech I could not always tell which character was speaking and she just sounded silly trying to do some voices - especially men's voices. I would encourage the audio production team to keep looking for the "perfect" voice.
I would recommend this book to a friend who enjoys Hillerman mysteries and stories set in the southwest. The conclusion is not obvious from the start and this makes it a more interesting story. I love the southwest setting and all of the Navajo culture makes the scene come alive.
The scene near the end when Bernie is attempting to rescue her husband shows her fearlessness and dedication to her husband, and to her job.
Nasal, inaccurate and annoying. She sounds like she has a cold. She shouldn't perform with that kind of nasal twang to her voice. Also, her Navajo accent sounds like a cross between a northwest coast "stoner" and the youthful cast of "Smoke Signals" who were from nowhere near Navajo country! As a Native person myself, I feel that her performance stereotypes Native Americans as mentally simple. I found that offensive.
I felt empathy for Bernie's sister Darlene, who expressed that she felt trapped in her life on the reservation. Recently I spent ten days sitting with my sister in the ICU as she slowly died from pneumonia. Because of this, the hospital scenes with Lt. Leaphorn were particularly poignant to me.
Readers should be carefully screened before they are given jobs reading. It was hard for me to get past feeling that a lot of the Navajo characters sounded stoned and simple minded.
Perhaps George Guidall could have salvaged the book with his genius for good voices and acting emphasis. Perhaps.
It's very difficult for a woman tor do male characters when reading, but some of them pull it off. This one did not. Her males were strained and fake, the same voices that you hear in cliche, usually saying something like "Heap big chief." While they're using good English, the tonal emphasis says they're producing a heap big pile of pony product.
I don't know if George ever spent any time around Navajos, but he could at least produce the diction and pacing associated with many Natives. Even those who are of different tribes seem to have some speech techniques in common, probably from the large numbers who travel from one tribe to another.
I don't think Tony would have taken this book in the same direction that his daughter did. There are families of writers who each find their own voice and become successful. This book did not do it for Anne. Perhaps her next effort will do it...but I will be extremely reluctant to try it.
I cannot recommend this as an audio book. As a written book, you have the option of giving your own interpretation to the words on the page, and this may make it somewhat viable in that form.
Meanwhile I only finished this to see what happened to the legendary Lieutenant. I'll never have a reason to listen to it again.
I am an avid eclectic reader.
I was a big fan of Tony Hillerman’s Joe Leaphorn series. When I saw his daughter Anne Hillerman is going to try to revive the series I was nervous about her carrying it off. I thought it was smart of her to choose Bernadette (Bernie) Manuelita to carry the story forward. Joe Leaphorn is shot right in front of Bernie and she is determined to find out who did it. Her husband Jim Chee is put in charge of the investigation and to co-ordinate with the FBI. I loved the description of Navaho culture and of the county side. The description of Chaco canyon ruins was excellent. I enjoyed the description of the old blanket hanging in the museum. The last half of the book has lots of action and suspense as Bernie closes in on the shooter of Leaphorn and the murderer of the art appraiser. Christina Delaine did an acceptable job in reading the story. Thought Anne did a good job for her first try at the series. I am looking forward to more in the series.
No - it was difficult enough the first time. Made a long drive more interesting, though, and the story was worth it.
The healing sing in the hospital at Santa Fe, and the change in Chee's feelings about Santa Fe.
The Navajo men for the most part sounded like cliched Italian mobsters vaguely from New York city or New Jersey. Women were better, some pretty convincing.
She's a good enough cop, after all.
Enjoyed the book
I enjoyed the book. I enjoyed all of her father's books, some were great, some were good and some were just ok. I would rate this book in the high end of good. I enjoyed the story and had some great detail, very much in keeping with her Dad's books.
Bring back George Guidall as the narrator. I did not like the narrator. Eventually just finished reading the book. The narrator's male voices were very distracting
Keep writing Anne! For a first Novell I think the book is very good, better than I was expecting. I look forward to her next book.
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