Author: Tony Hillerman
Original language: English
Sergeant Jim Chee of the Navajo Tribal Police is troubled by the nameless corpse discovered just inside his jurisdiction, at the edge of the Jicarilla Apache natural gas field. More troubling still is the FBI’s insistence that the Bureau take over the case, calling the unidentifiedvictim’s death a “hunting accident.”
But if a hunter was involved, Chee knows the prey was intentionally human. This belief is shared by the “Legendary Lieutenant” Joe Leaphorn, who once again is pulled out of retirement by the possibility of serious wrongs being committed against the Navajo nation by the Washington bureaucracy. Yet it is former policewoman Bernadette Manuelito, recently relocated to Customs Patrol at the U.S. — Mexico border, who possibly holds the key to a fiendishly twisted conspiracy of greed, lies, and murder — and whose only hope for survival now rests in the hands of friends too far away for comfort.
Tony Hillerman is a national treasure, having achieved critical acclaim, chart-topping popularity, and a sterling reputation as an ambassador between whites and Indians. Fortunately, he’s also still a marvelous writer, much imitated but never equaled.
Officer Bernadette Manuelito has left the Navajo Tribal Police for the U.S. Customs Service, patrolling the barren borderlands of southern New Mexico. There, her curiosity and smarts land her in a growing peril that provides much of the book’s suspense–and invokes the protective instincts of Sergeant Chee, who still hasn’t quite been able to tell her how he feels about her. It’s impossible not to care about Hillerman’s exquisitely drawn repertory characters, nor to overlook the pleasures of his beautifully crafted and relaxed-seeming prose. In the midst of these virtues are a few warts: several sections are a little flat or awkward, and the villainous plutocrat behind it all is short on plausibility (though lots of fun to hate). But even a lesser Hillerman is still a richer, more satisfying read than most authors’ top stuff.