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book review: lots of things by Tony Hillerman...

Saturday, May 26, 2018
... sadly, he won't be writing any more, so when I get them all read, it will be time to start over.  Sorry, he is deceased. Really light, entertaining reading, if you can overlook the fact there is always at least one corpse that came to an untimely end as well as numerous circumstances that are related to mysterious deaths of native Americans. Often involving some aspect of Navajo spirits, tales from oral history relating creation stories or coyote/trickster.

One of the stories, heard on CD rather than printed book form, was "Skeleton Man." Taking place in the southwest of the US, four corners area where four states intersect, and there are several Native reservations. Some of the story occurs as the main characters trek down into the Grand Canyon in search of diamonds that disappeared when two airliners collided over the Canyon, resulting in many deaths. One passenger had a small case of jewels cuffed to his wrist, died in the mishap, and left a pregnant partner behind. The now adult child is trying to prove her parentage, and hoping to find: not the costly jewels, but the arm it was attached to, in order to get DNA samples and prove her heritage.

Another story, in a book I picked up from a Little Free Library, is part of a trilogy, three published in one volume. This one also required the characters to descend into the Grand Canyon: "A Thief of Time." They were attempting to find an archeologist who was researching Anasazi pottery. The scientist was convinced she could trace a number of pots or sherds to a particular artisian who lived in the canyon pueblos hundreds of years before white men arrived. She disappeared, after deceiving co-workers into thinking she had left the area, while she was trying to discover the source of the pottery. No spoilers here...

Hillerman's two recurring characters are police with the Navajo Nation force, Lt. Joe Leaphorn and Office Jim Chee. There are names mentioned in all the books that are likely very common in the nations: Twosalt, Yazzie, Ironwoman, Highhawk. The people he invents seem to be well fleshed out, each individual imbued with details that make them seem human, complete with frailties and complicated personalities. Over the years I have read a number of the Hillerman books and enjoyed getting to know Leaphorn and Chee.  Recommend you start anywhere with his compendium and take the time to digest, get to know these guys.

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