February 12, 2007

New Hillerman mystery

From the Washington Times, 2/10/07:

A Navajo rug, murder and a less secular Joe LeaphornThrough 18 "Navajo novels," Mr. Hillerman shows how American Indians, whites and the other groups living in the beautiful but sometimes harsh and unforgiving Four Corners area (where Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and Colorado come together) manage to live side by side, though not always without conflict or confusion, while answering to very different cultures and values.

Mr. Hillerman also shows how crime, on and off the reservation, must be dealt with locally through a bewildering array of law enforcement agencies from the Navajo Tribal Police, through local police and sheriff's departments, and the FBI, which has jurisdiction over felonies on federal land.

Along with the cultural and law enforcement smorgasbords, Mr. Hillerman also gives us finely-drawn mysteries built around series characters that readers can identify with. Mr. Hillerman's characters get older, grow, and evolve, just like real people do.

In "Shape Shifter" the recently-retired Leaphorn has taken to no longer solving crimes about as much as Mr. Hillerman likely would take to no longer telling stories. That is, he's bored out of his tree.

So when another retired and bored cop colleague sends him a current photo from a glossy home magazine of a historic and valuable Navajo rug that supposedly burned up years ago at a crime scene, Leaphorn's curiosity is in gear. As a result, he noses into a criminal hornet's nest that will cost his colleague his life and put Leaphorn's in jeopardy.

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