Tuesday, March 8, 2022

Book Review: The Blessing Way by Tony Hillerman

The Blessing Way

Tony Hillerman 
Series: A Leaphorn and Chee Novel (Book 1)
Publication: HarperTorch; Reprint edition (March 7, 1990)

Description: From New York Times bestselling author Tony Hillerman, the first novel in his series featuring Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn & Officer Jim Chee who encounter a bizarre case that borders between the supernatural and murder.

Homicide is always an abomination, but there is something exceptionally disturbing about the victim discovered in a high, lonely place—a corpse with a mouth full of sand—abandoned at a crime scene seemingly devoid of tracks or useful clues. Though it goes against his better judgment, Navajo Tribal Police Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn cannot help but suspect the hand of a supernatural killer.

There is palpable evil in the air, and Leaphorn's pursuit of a Wolf-Witch leads him where even the bravest men fear, on a chilling trail that winds perilously between mysticism and murder.

My Thoughts: This mystery introduces Joe Leaphorn, a police officer on a Navaho reservation in the Southwest. He is a Navaho who is also college educated and who served in the military with duty in Korea. His case this time deals with the death of Luis Horseman who was wanted for questioning after a knife fight. When his body was found 100 miles from where Joe expected him to be and his cause of death was unusual, Joe begins to visit people and ask questions.

Meanwhile, Joe's friend anthropologist Bergen McKee is summering on the reservation looking for information about Wolf-Witches for a paper he is planning to write. McKee is traveling with archaeologist J. R. Canfield who is exploring Anasazi ruins. McKee is also talking to people about rumors of witchcraft.

Joe's investigation and McKee's overlap since opinion on the reservation is that Horseman's death was caused by a witch. And both investigations find them encountering an unexpected villain with murderous intentions. 

The mystery was interesting and well-plotted and took some unexpected turns. I enjoyed becoming immersed in Navaho culture and beliefs as I read this story. I liked the way Leaphorn fit into his environment and altered his investigative style to fit with the culture. Leaphorn was an interesting character that I would like to know more about. Luckily, this is the first of a long series. 

Favorite Quote:
He saw no tire tracks and he expected to see none. That would have been luck. Leaphorn never counted on luck. Instead he expected order--the natural sequence of behavior, the cause producing the natural effect, the human behaving in the way it was natural for him to behave. He counted on that and upon his own ability to sort out the chaos of observed facts and find in them this natural order. Leaphorn knew from experience that he was unusually adept at this.
This was a Christmas gift from a friend. You can buy your copy here.

1 comment:

  1. All of Hillerman's "Navajo Cop"books are wonderful, continuing the careers of Leaphorn and a young cop you haven't met ibn this first book. He died in 2008 and his daughter Anne has done a worthy job of continuing the series. In fact, the 25th book is due to release in April.


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