Tony Hillerman—Great Mysteries and Interesting Characters

Coyote Waits

By Tony Hillerman

Published 1990

Read March 2021

Skeleton Man

By Tony Hillerman

Published 2004

Read April 2021

This reader has encountered Tony Hillerman and his characters Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee, Navajo Tribal Police officers, in the past.  Then, as now, this reader read two this series (of eighteen) nearly back to back.  Joe is the older and wiser officer and Jim Chee the younger officer trying to find his way in his world that straddles the Navajo and white world.  He straddles as well his draw to be a traditional healer and his pursuit of being a good investigative officer.   

The stories are set in and around the Navajo Nation and include either a mystery to be solved by Leaphorn and Chee (in cooperation or in parallel) or some kind of suspense story (as in Skeleton Man.  Over the course of the series, the stories of Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee are revealed.  As with the Massie Dobbs series by Jacqueline Winspear, the reader is treated to an interesting mystery/suspense story set in a different culture and/or time and the story provides some insights into that culture/time.  In both series, the story of the main character(s) is slowly metered out but in a way that doesn’t dominate the mystery/suspense plot .  Both the character(s)’ story and the mystery engage and propel the reader into both stories.   It’s not critical to read either series in chronological order of the story(ies) of the main character(s) as there is sufficient background provided to enable you to participate in their story(ies) as told in a particular  book.  Interestingly, all three characters, Massie Dobbs, Joe Leaphorn, and Jim Chee, have entries in Wikipedia that are fairly detailed regarding their life stories. 

Unfortunately the world lost Tony Hillerman so the eighteen books are all the world will get describing the lives of Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee and the mysteries they solve.  Lucky for this reader, there are a good number of Hillerman’s book left to read.  

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