He has earned the Navajo Tribe’s Special Friend Award and has received the Mystery Writers of America Edgar and Grand Master awards.
In his acclaimed Joe Leaphorn series, featured on PBS, Hillerman uses Navajo creation tales, historical events and cultural practices and attire as filters through which his characters, mainly Navajo law enforcement officers, process the crimes.
It’s often a careful dance they walk that blends Western investigative techniques and an anti-paranormal frame of reference with their indigenous upbringings and the Navajo focus on spirit worlds and gods.
Moreover, while we readers know the full truth of the tale, Leaphorn omits some key facts in the final chapter when he talks directly with Chee. It seems an odd concession since he went to Chee expressly to confess.