Rock with Wings

Narrated by: Christina Delaine
Length: 10 hrs and 24 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (783 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Navajo tribal cops Jim Chee and Bernadette Manuelito and their mentor, the legendary Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn, investigate two perplexing cases in this exciting Southwestern mystery from the New York Times best-selling author of Spider Woman's Daughter.

Doing a good deed for a relative offers the perfect opportunity for Sergeant Jim Chee and his wife, Officer Bernie Manuelito, to get away from the daily grind of police work. But two cases will call them back from their short vacation and separate them - one near Shiprock and the other at iconic Monument Valley.

Chee follows a series of seemingly random and cryptic clues that lead to a missing woman, a coldblooded thug, and a mysterious mound of dirt and rocks that could be a gravesite. Bernie has her hands full managing the fallout from a drug bust gone wrong, uncovering the origins of a fire in the middle of nowhere, and looking into an ambitious solar energy development with long-ranging consequences for Navajo land.

Under the guidance of their mentor, retired Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn, Bernie and Chee will navigate unexpected obstacles and confront the greatest challenge yet to their skills, commitment, and courage.

©2015 Anne Hillerman (P)2015 HarperCollins Publishers

What listeners say about Rock with Wings

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

A Navago Mystery Story

Officer Bernie Manuelito and Sergeant Jim Chee start a brief vacation when two cases cause them to forgo the vacation. Chee has a case of a missing women and a mysterious mound of dirt and rocks. Bernie is managing the fallout from a drug bust gone wrong. She uncovers the origins of a fire in the middle of nowhere. She is also looking into an ambitious solar energy development with consequences for the Navajos. All the while she is dealing with her sister’s drinking problem.

The book is well written and researched as to Navajo culture. The descriptions of the four corners area are excellent. Anne has kept the book authentic, but she has put her own signature on it. She is not duplicating her father’s style but applying her own style to the series. She features Bernie Manuelito more than Chee or Leaphorn. She has managed to keep the flavor of her father’s stories while inserting her own. In this story the author had a bit of a problem with the plot. It appeared a bit formulated. Her prior book had a better developed plot. I am looking forward to seeing what she does with the next book.

The book is about ten and half hours long. Christina Delaine does a good job narrating the story. Delaine is a voice over artist and audiobook narrator.

7 people found this helpful

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Great Book

Another great book by Anne Hillerman. So glad she has continued the Chee / Leaphorn books. The stories have been seamless and just as exciting.

6 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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The Navajo Police save the day again

The story follows the line of the other Hillerman novels with all the characters that we love. The reading of the Navajo words and accents of the Navajo people were very distracting to me. I wish they would find a native reader for these novels!!

6 people found this helpful

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No Native Americans for narration?

Ms Hilerman does a good job carrying on stories in her father's style. I enjoyed the story, but had great difficulty with the narrator. I know she is an accomplished performer, but lacked the ability to carry off the Navajo characters. are there no Native American, especially Navajo, narrators? surely Ms Hillerman could find one?

4 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Happy to See Anne Picking up where her father left

Where does Rock with Wings rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

One of the better ones.

What other book might you compare Rock with Wings to and why?

Any Tony Hillerman novels. Picking up with characters her father created Anne keeps you from wondering "what ever happened to Chee and the others.?

Have you listened to any of Christina Delaine’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

Haven't listened to toheres.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

Navajo mystery the next generation.

Any additional comments?

I enjoyed the book. Though not as detailed in Navajo culture, still a good story and nice to hear a woman's take on the characters.

4 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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So Disappointing

What would have made Rock with Wings better?

Having a different narrator would have helped. I have never given a narrator a poor rating before and I have listened to dozens of books, but this narration was really bad and made most of the Native-American characters sound dim-witted. The writing was also disappointing and predictable. Some of the lines were dreadful.

Has Rock with Wings turned you off from other books in this genre?

No

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

Disappointment. I love the characters and was looking forward to the book.

2 people found this helpful

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Good but too slow

Enjoyed the glimpses of Navajo culture and beliefs, but the plot moved a bit too slowly with the main characters asking themselves the same question over and over.

2 people found this helpful

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very disappointed

Would you ever listen to anything by Anne Hillerman again?

Maybe, I love reading about the Southwest. I looked forward to listening to this book but was very disappointed.

How did the narrator detract from the book?

The narrator read the conversation in a slooooooow "Native American" dialect...giving the wrong impression of her characters.

5 people found this helpful

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What the Hell is Wrong With Anne Hillerman?

Boy, this book is deeply irritating. I LOVED Tony Hillerman, Anne's father. His books are some of the best I've ever encountered about the modern West. He wrote with an obvious love for both the land and the Navajo people. His plots were well designed, his characters well-drawn, his books a delight. His primary characters, first Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn and Officer Jim Chee, an older and younger couple of Navajo Tribal Police, were presented as savvy, intelligent, and very interesting people who grew and changed through the books. When he later added Bernie Manuelito, a young woman recently hired by the Tribal Police and reporting to Jim Chee, she was drawn in a similar mode - smart, thoughtful, and well-aware of her people's traditions and beliefs. All three characters made mistakes, made intelligent guesses, occasionally did stupid things, and solved crimes. They were very human and very fun to read about.

Since Tony died, his daughter Anne has taken to writing in Hillerman's universe. This happens a lot with famous authors; sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. This would appear to be one of the latter situations.

While Chee and Leaphorn don't fare too badly under Anne's pen - being, I suspect, that they became well-established characters before Tony passed away - Bernie, as a much later addition, is alas more eligible for expansion by Anne. Or defamation by Anne, depending on your view.

Anne seems bent on thwacking poor Bernie into some annoying representation of a Traditional - sadly, read here as "Backward" - Navajo. Perhaps in some backstory of which I am unaware, Bernie has undergone some sort of deeply degenerative brain disease, melting away her cerebral cortex. That is the only way I can account for her new distressing personality, thought processes, and general way of functioning. I have searched in vain for such an incident.

The New Bernie is married to Jim Chee. That's fine, no issues. However, in New Bernie, the great value which the Navajo assign to family, with its attendant responsibility to and caring for, has been redrawn as some sad and convoluted involvement wherein some relatives, like Mama, are deeply cared for and others, like Sister, are treated like irritating slaves. Oddly, given references in Tony's books to "an endless series of aunts, uncles, and cousins" that Bernie is often responsible to, New Bernie, or NB, seems to have only Mama and Sister. Is it possible that Anne simply hasn't developed a plot that requires their presence? I suppose that's possible, but in this book, when NB and Chee wrack their brains to identify someone who can be responsible for Mama for four days, they can think of no one. Was there a plague? Bad year for Hantavirus? We do not know. We know only that when Sister - a classic Bad Girl - is Bad again, there's no answer but that NB and Chee must return from their six or eight hours of vacation so that NB can care for Mama. NB says she has to return "home," which causes Chee to ponder, mournfully, when his trailer by the San Juan, now shared by both of them, will become NB's "home." (Maybe never. In my experience, couples often need to find another home, together, before it feels like it belongs to both of them. And a side note here - Chee's trailer has been presented for years as quite small. For a long time it seemed almost as small as a travel trailer. More recently it's been referred to as a house trailer, but still feels small. Chee wonders if NB will feel more at home there "when there are a couple of kids running around." Obviously, we all make do as we must, but are these two gainfully employed people planning to spend their lives in that trailer? Adding in at least two children? I'm wondering if Chee has run this past NB yet. I mean, I guess I'd be hoping to at least step up to a double wide. But I digress.)

So NB goes home to care for Mama, now that the extended family has been, maybe, swept away in a flood. That's fine. But it seems that NB's actual responsibility to Mama is very limited, because most of that responsibility has been handed to Sister. Into perpetuity, it would seem, and NB is just SO annoyed by Sister, who won't straighten up and fly right. Instead, Sister - who seems to be somewhere between 17 and 20 - she's not old enough to drink legally - every now and then gets a wild hair and acts like a teenager, leaving Mama alone for a night, or part of a night, while she sneaks out and gets drunk with her friends. I recognize that the Navajo Nation takes this very seriously, with good reason. Much or all of the Big Rez is dry, I expect because alcohol has played a big role in destroying Navajo individuals and families. There is no Rumspringa here. And that's fine, I get that - but at the same time, Sister, who dropped out of high school, has been given the task of caring for Mama. Largely alone and till death do they part. NB is over there periodically, but mostly only when Sister goes AWOL. She doesn't care for Mama correctly, in NB's opinion. Mama's not complaining, but BB is seriously annoyed if, when she goes over, she has to do anything like wash dishes or sweep the floor. Sister even feeds Mama wrong. NB stops in once or twice a week, mostly to note how frail Mama is getting and to tear a strip off Sister for something or other.

Now. My parents had kids a little later than most baby boomers, but when I was 17, my mother was maybe 50. Now she is 90. NB is in, maybe, her late 20s. We'll say thirty, though we have no idea why Mama spaced her two children ten years apart. There's no discussion of her endless miscarriages, for instance. I'd be very surprised if Mama gave birth to Sister any older than 45, and that's really pushing it for a woman living in an area with limited prenatal care, etc. Anyway, apart from being allowed to take a class to get her GED, which she has not done, perhaps because what would be the point, Sister appears to have been sentenced to spending the next 30-40 years at home, in a very rural area, caring for Mama. What's wrong with Mama? Nothing, apparently. Nonetheless, this woman, who CANNOT POSSIBLY be over 65 and is probably more like 50, cannot walk without a walker and would evidently blow away in a high wind. What the hell did they DO to her?

It's not just that, though. We have the example of Joe Leaphorn, who is clearly in his late 60s or early 70s by now and appears to be working as a private investigator. HE'S fine. What terrible vicissitudes of life beat Mama Manuelito to hell by 50? it's the Navajo Nation in the 21st century, not 1865 Kurdestan.

If we are to accept these peculiarities, though, we must further acknowledge the plight of Sister. Fine for NB to move away, go to school, have a career and marry a nice young man. Not so Sister, who evidently won't be allowed to leave Mama until she is, at the youngest, in her 40s. Are we surprised she gets drunk occasionally? Christ, I'd have set up housekeeping INSIDE a gin bottle if that were my life.

Sister would like to go to art school. Because it is in Santa Fe, and because Sister is evidently a terminal fuckup, not accepting her 'SPONSIBILITIES like that - these ideas of The Slave Who Dreamed are pretty much shat on by NB at every opportunity. But do you think this constant testiness from NB, this willingness to force Sister into lifelong servitude, makes NB a Bitch To Be Reckoned With?

If you do, you're wrong. Because NB, like a good girl of the 50s or so, is constantly insecure, to a point that ought to result in a good smacking from someone (I'd do it, but I can't be there, alas) about her work performance. In Anne's first book, Kiss of the Spiderwoman - Wait, no, that was good, what was it... Mother Spider? No, that's not it. Something about spiders, anyway - Leaphorn gets shot outside a restaurant (This happens in the first three pages or so, so it's not a spoiler, if you insist on entering Anne's Spiderverse.) While Joe fights for his life in hospital, our intrepid heroine uses, I'm betting, the next five books (because it's just too good a Personality Defining Act, even though it really isn't) feeling guilty because she happens to be inside the restaurant on the phone, watching, as Joe walks to his truck, a car wheels up, and someone in the car shoots him in the face. Then the car takes off.

So NB gets the plate number, runs to Joe, stops the bleeding, etc., etc. Not bad! we and every single observer think. But it's not ENOUGH - as NB makes clear until we are all very very old - not enough. She should have - what? She should have SEEN THE ATTACKER CLEARLY. Better yet, she seems to feel she should have CAUGHT THE CAR. What, is she going to be revealed as a skinwalker somewhere down the line? (If she is, I take every word of this review back because it would be genius. I'd have been right to hate her.)

NB doesn't just feel a little guilty. She feels guilty every time she has a few extra minutes, or whenever Anne is trying to make us see her Sensitivity. Further, she becomes angry at others that she feels must share her delusion. When Captain Largo assigns Chee to the case, he explains clearly that this is ROUTINE, and it's done anytime they feel someone might be too close to a case. NB, however, assures herself that this ONLY happened because Largo also thinks she should have stopped the killer. Maybe he knows she's a skinwalker. Don't ask me.

This mind-numbing bit of insistent self-delusion returns again and again. Odd that it's arising in a woman who consigns her younger sister to a lifetime of friendless drudgery as carefree-ly as one of Cinderella's wicked stepsisters, but there you go. Just stop expecting any consistent behavior, you're only going to be disappointed.

This last bit involves a plot "twist," which you and anyone else but NB should be able to see like the headlight on a train from halfway through the book or earlier. I won't go into it in detail as doing so would maybe create a spoiler. For some. Although I expect it'll be plenty spoiled anyway... Suffice it to say that toward the end of the book, a criminal confesses to several crimes for no reason and then is allowed to depart without NB even bothering to point out his crimes, NB allows the world's most obvious villain - about whom she has just, and I mean JUST, been given a HUGE warning - simply stroll right up and go all evil - and then, in what I can only think of as insanity, places the zipped knapsack containing her gun "near" her chair in case the villain is, um, vile. Evidently - perhaps these are more skinwalker moves? - she feels she can pick up her knapsack, open it, dig around inside, and retrieve her gun in less time than the villain will need to pull his - or her, in case you can't read skywriting I'll keep it a secret - gun from his (or her) pants. (Or dress. I'm just being thorough.)

Add to these flaws a choice in villain which makes it seem that Anne make political choices rather differently from her father - that's certainly allowed, and her scenario is, I suppose, POSSIBLE - but it feels contrived in an effort to make some sort of lame point. And what in the world does she have against dogs? (I still have 24 minutes of book, so something good might happen to a dog, I guess - but I'm not sure I care enough about the Garden of Delusion Anne has created here to listen. And I really like dogs. (And cats. And horses. Just not Anne's.)

1 person found this helpful

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I guess my expectations were too high

I got bored and didn't finish the book. The family issues were realistic but tedious. The male protagonists seemed interestingly stereotypical characters rather than real people.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Olga the Owl
  • 08-10-15

Sadly, not a patch on the original

What would have made Rock with Wings better?

The pace of the first half of the book was very slow and the writing style nothing like as good as Tony Hillerman's originals - I was concurrently re-reading Thief of Time, and the style is so much smoother and more engaging. At the half-way point I still wasn't really involved in the story - in fact, I looked to see how long I had left and it was 'oh no, I'm only half-way through!'

Has Rock with Wings put you off other books in this genre?

No, I shall continue to listen to Tony Hillerman books (and read them in print!)

Did the narration match the pace of the story?

I guess. As a general thing I find men doing women's voices better than the other way about, although I hate to admit it. And someone should tell Christina Delaine how Europeans pronounce Gisela!

If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from Rock with Wings?

All the stuff about Mamma and Darlene.

Any additional comments?

Anne Hillerman's earlier work Spider Woman's Daughter was very much better but I can't see me bothering with any more of these.