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The Blessing Way (Navajo Mysteries #1) by…
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The Blessing Way (Navajo Mysteries #1) (original 1970; edition 2009)

by Tony Hillerman

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1,251306,334 (3.73)102
Member:DaveLancaster
Title:The Blessing Way (Navajo Mysteries #1)
Authors:Tony Hillerman
Info:Harper (2009), Edition: Reprint, Mass Market Paperback, 304 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:***
Tags:Western, Mystery, nook

Work details

The Blessing Way by Tony Hillerman (1970)

  1. 10
    The Shaman Sings by James D. Doss (ckNikka)
    ckNikka: Great mix of story telling - humor - culture and places
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Showing 1-5 of 30 (next | show all)
This was my first read of a Tony Hillerman novel and it did not disappoint. The stark, economical prose is perfect for the story's atmosphere, capturing the stark, elemental beauty of the Southwest landscape that serves as the backdrop for the tale. I really enjoyed the way Hillerman depicts the collision between the traditional Navajo philosophy and the harsh realities of living in contemporary America. The mystery was compelling, it kept me guessing, and Leaphorn and McKee made me care deeply about the outcome.

I'm looking forward to reading other novels in the series! ( )
  btburt | Aug 31, 2014 |
The first of Hillerman's Leaphorn/Chee mysteries, set in and around the Navajo Indian Reservation in Arizona and New Mexico, The Blessing Way reads exactly like a first novel. The narrative is clunky and the mystery weak, resulting in a short novel that plods along. A wanted man wandering in a deserted area of the reservation crosses paths with a legendary Navajo witch and meets his demise. His body is discovered leading Lt. Joe Leaphorn of the Navajo Tribal Police to investigate in his own way - relying more on getting to know potential witnesses as friends and fellow Navajo, rather than using typical police investigative techniques. Interestingly, Leaphorn is not the main character here - that would be Professor Bergen McPhee who is studying Navajo supernatural folklore and stumbles into the criminal plot. The tribal lore is excellent, as are the descriptions of the vast Southwestern expanses, the buttes, washes and arroyos. But the mystery is fairly thin and the motive seems pretty far-fetched. Thankfully, the series would only get better from here. ( )
  TheTwoDs | Aug 20, 2014 |
Supernatural read...makes you wonder. Joe Leaphorn solves another mystery; this time a mystery within a mystery. Good read, on to the next Hillerman book. ( )
  buffalogr | Jan 11, 2014 |
This is closer to 3.5*s but I'm rounding down because there were some parts where I found the action confusing and had to re-read passages a few times to figure out what was going on. That got in the way of the story but not to the point where it really bothered me, just enough to break up the flow. I read some other Hillerman a while ago and I don't remember having that problem so I think it's first book syndrome. I'm glad to start at the beginning of this series again and looking forward to continuing on with it. I think one thing Hillerman does really well is capture the sense of place of the desert plains. You can really see the landscape and feel the dry heat during the day. As I remember the mysteries tighten up in later books and that combination is how Hillerman became known as a master writer of mysteries. ( )
  CCleveland | Nov 27, 2013 |
I have been collecting the Navajo Mysteries by Tony Hillerman since I first read Talking God in college. The early Hillerman books contain a lot ethnographic observations on Diné culture and language. So much, so, that they were used as required reading for a non-western art class I took as a freshman.

Although the books stand by themselves and can be read out of order, I've decided to go back and read the series in order, filling in the ones I've missed.

The series opened with The Blessing Way, published in 1970. The cold war is still going strong, so is the Vietnam War. There are no cellphones, making the quarter million miles of wilderness that is the Navajo Nation a very remote location even though it sits within Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and Colorado.

For fans of the later books, the older cop, younger cop dynamic is missing. There's no Jim Chee to get under Joe Leaphorn's skin. Instead, there's what I can guess is an attempt at an authorial insert in the form of a belagaana professor who specializes in Navajo culture. He gives an expert but decidedly outsider's observations.

The problem though, is Dr. Bergen McKee, as an outsider doesn't have the same motivations to solve the murder as Joe Leaphorn does. And although he may know some of the different Sings, he's not actually studying them to perform them as Jim Chee tries in Talking God.

But the grains of what will be in later novels is here. There are thoughts on Navajo beliefs and motivations and questions about what would make someone break from form. Differences in Navajo subcultures are discussed but not fleshed out as they will be in later books.

Despite the discrepancies, some very dated material, as well as a somewhat clunkier writing style, I still enjoyed the book. I listened to an audio version performed by George Guidall. He had the perfect voice for the mystery and brought all the characters to life. I enjoyed his work so much I plan to listen to book three, Listening Woman, on CD as well. ( )
  pussreboots | Aug 3, 2013 |
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» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Tony Hillermanprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Guidall, GeorgeNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0061000019, Mass Market Paperback)

When Lt. Joe Leaphorn of The Navaho Tribal Police discovers a corpse with a mouth full of sand at a crime scene seemingly without tracks or clues, he is ready to suspect a supernatural killer. Blood on the rocks . . . A body on the high mesa . . . Leaphorn must stalk the Wolf-Witch along a chilling trail between mysticism and murder.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:00:35 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

When Lt. Joe Leaphorn of the Navajo Tribal Police discovers a corpse with a mouthful of sand at a crime scene seemingly without tracks or clues, he is ready to suspect a supernatural killer. Blood on the rocks ... A body on the high mesa ... Leaphorn must stalk the Wolf-Witch along a chilling trail between mysticism and murder.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 4 descriptions

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