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Tony Hillerman (1925–2008)

Author of A Thief of Time

85+ Works 40,676 Members 691 Reviews 126 Favorited

About the Author

Tony Hillerman was born in Sacred Heart, Oklahoma on May 27, 1925. During World War II, he enlisted in the Army and was awarded the Silver Star, the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart after being severely injured during a raid behind German lines. He received a bachelor's degree from the University show more of Oklahoma in 1948. From 1948 to 1962, he covered crime and politics for newspapers in Texas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico, eventually working his way up to the position of editor of the Santa Fe New Mexican. He taught at the University of Mexico and went on to chair the journalism department for more than 20 years. He retired in 1985. His first novel, The Blessing Way, was published in 1971. During his lifetime, he wrote 29 books, including the popular 18-book mystery series featuring Navajo police officers Jim Chee and Joe Leaphorn, two non-series novels, two children's books, and nonfiction works. He received numerous awards during his lifetime including the Edgar Allan Poe Award for Best Mystery Novel for Dance Hall of the Dead in 1974, the Western Writers of America's Golden Spur Award for Skinwalkers in 1987, the Mystery Writers of America's Grand Master Award in 1991, the Navajo tribe's Special Friend Award, France 's Grand Prix de Litterature Policiere, the 2002 Malice Domestic Lifetime Achievement Award, the Agatha Award for Best Nonfiction Book for Seldom Disappointed, and the Wister Award for Lifetime achievement in 2008. He died from pulmonary failure on October 26, 2008 at the age of 83. (Bowker Author Biography) show less
Image credit: Cynthia Farah Haines

Series

Works by Tony Hillerman

A Thief of Time (1988) 2,491 copies
The Blessing Way (1970) 2,237 copies
Coyote Waits (1990) 2,136 copies
Sacred Clowns (1993) 2,072 copies
Talking God (1989) 2,027 copies
Skinwalkers (1986) 2,018 copies
Dance Hall of the Dead (1973) 2,002 copies
The Fallen Man (1996) 1,937 copies
The Shape Shifter (2006) 1,880 copies
Skeleton Man (2004) 1,872 copies
Hunting Badger (1999) 1,866 copies
The Sinister Pig (2003) 1,863 copies
The Wailing Wind (2002) 1,862 copies
The First Eagle (1998) 1,854 copies
Listening Woman (1978) 1,795 copies
The Dark Wind (1982) 1,674 copies
People of Darkness (1980) 1,646 copies
The Ghostway (1984) 1,475 copies
Finding Moon (1995) 1,201 copies
The Fly on the Wall (1971) 997 copies
The Best American Mystery Stories of the Century (2000) — Editor; Introduction — 457 copies
Seldom Disappointed (2001) 321 copies
The Mysterious West (1994) — Editor — 234 copies
The Oxford Book of American Detective Stories (1996) — Editor; Contributor — 181 copies
Talking Mysteries (1991) 125 copies
The Spell of New Mexico (1976) — Editor — 109 copies
A New Omnibus of Crime (2005) — Editor; Contributor — 97 copies
The weavers way: Navajo profiles (2003) — Tribute — 17 copies
Coyote Waits [Abridged] (1990) 14 copies
Chee's Witch (2002) 12 copies
The First Eagle [abridged] (2005) 10 copies
Canyon de Chelly (1998) 4 copies
The Fly on the Wall (1990) 3 copies
The Blessing Way [Abridged Audiobook] (2005) — Author & Narrator — 3 copies
American West 3 copies
The Dark Wind 2 copies
Haugbrjotar 1 copy
Joe Leaphorn 1 copy
Cry Wolf 1 copy
The Taos Review No. 4 (1991) 1 copy

Associated Works

A Century of Great Suspense Stories (2001) — Contributor — 155 copies
2nd Culprit: A Crime Writers' Association Annual (1993) — Contributor — 66 copies
Master's Choice, Volume 1 (1999) — Contributor — 61 copies
A Modern Treasury of Great Detective and Murder Mysteries (1994) — Contributor — 60 copies
First Cases: New and Classic Tales of Detection (1999) — Contributor — 42 copies
Piñon Country (1941) — Foreword, some editions — 33 copies
A Century of Mystery 1980-1989 (1997) — Contributor — 33 copies
Reader's Digest Condensed Books 1990 v05 (1990) — Author — 23 copies
The New Great American Writers' Cookbook (2003) — Contributor — 21 copies
Twelve American Crime Stories (1998) — Contributor — 14 copies
The Ethnic Detectives: Masterpieces of Mystery Fiction (1985) — Contributor — 12 copies
Dinky Died | The Blessing Way | The Dead Sea Cipher (1970) — Contributor — 2 copies
RDSELP 2000 (Lake News and Hunting Badger) (2000) — Author — 1 copy

Tagged

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Reviews

This was a good story, a little convoluted, perhaps, but it was fun to spend time with the characters, be introduced to some elements of Navajo culture, and have in my mind's eye the landscape where the story takes place.

 
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dvoratreis | 67 other reviews | May 22, 2024 |
I really like this series and author. Lots of twists and turns to the final page.
 
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caanderson | 44 other reviews | May 12, 2024 |
The Blessing Way by Tony Hillerman

BIBLIOGRAPHIC DETAILS:
-Print: COPYRIGHT ©: January 1, 1970; ISBN 9780060118969; PUBLISHER: MacMillan; PAGES: 201; UNABRIDGED (Hardcover Info from Goodreads)
-Digital: COPYRIGHT ©: (January 1, 1970) March 17, 2009; ISBN: 184119620; PUBLISHER: HarperCollins e-books; PAGES: 304; UNABRIDGED. (Kindle Edition Info from Goodreads & Amazon)
*Audio: COPYRIGHT ©: (January 1, 1970) May 18, 2015; PUBLISHER: Recorded Books; DURATION: 6 hours and 28 minutes; Unabridged; (Audiobook Info from Goodreads & Amazon/Audible)
-Feature Film or tv: Not this episode that I’m aware.

SERIES:
Leaphorn & Chee #1

MAIN CHARACTERS: (Not comprehensive)
Joe Leaphorn – Navaho Nation law enforcement at Window Rock, AZ
Bergen McKee – Professor of Anthropology in Albuquerque, New Mexico, who studies witches
Ellen Leon – Visitor of the University requesting help to find her fiancé.
Jim Hall – Ellen’s fiancé
Jeremy Canfield – Fellow University Professor
Luis Horseman – Local Navaho Indian evading the law

SUMMARY/ EVALUATION:
-SELECTED. A long-time friend whose taste usually runs close to mine in literature mentioned that she was following this series, but that I might need some background before embarking upon it. She’s a Native American enthusiast, so I took that to mean she’s familiar with the customs and rituals. Another friend of mine had recommended the tv series called “Skin Walkers”. Looking that up, I discovered it is based on the 6th book of this series.
Having the series brought to my attention twice in a short span of time piqued my interest.
-ABOUT: Joe Leaphorn has been trying to get Bergen McKee to come resume his research back on the Navaho reservation since McKee’s wife left him, to no avail.
McKee studies the Indian lore of witches. The concerted efforts of his associates finally convinces him to make the journey.
When a dead body is found out on uninhabited reservation land in a condition suggesting murder, and sightings of a foreign visitor believed to be a wolf-witch is on the tongues of the locals, McKee's research takes on new dimensions.
-OVERALL OPINION: Anyone who appreciates Indian lore, beliefs, customs, and life would most likely enjoy this series. I think I will need to hear a few more “episodes” to get accustomed to all of the nuances of the life and community.

AUTHOR:
Tony Hillerman (From the introduction and Biography sections of the Wikipedia article)
“Anthony Grove Hillerman (May 27, 1925 – October 26, 2008[3]) was an American author of detective novels and nonfiction works, best known for his mystery novels featuring Navajo Nation Police officers Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee. Several of his works have been adapted as theatrical and television movies.
Tony Hillerman was born in Sacred Heart, Oklahoma, to August Alfred Hillerman, a farmer and shopkeeper, and his wife, Lucy Grove. He was the youngest of their three children, and the second son. His paternal grandparents were born in Germany, and his maternal grandparents were born in England. He was a first cousin once removed of actor John Hillerman [P.I. Magnum’s Higgins III]. He grew up in Pottawatomie County, Oklahoma, attending elementary and high school with Potawatomi children.[3]
Jeffrey Herlihy argues that this background made possible "a significantly different portrayal of Native Americans in his writing",[4] in comparison to other authors of his time. "Most obviously important," Hillerman said of his childhood, "was growing up knowing that Indians are just like everybody else. You grew up without an 'us and them' attitude about other races."[5]
Hillerman was a decorated combat veteran of World War II, serving from August 1943 to October 1945 as a mortarman in the 103rd Infantry Division in the European theatre. He earned the Silver Star, the Bronze Star Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, and a Purple Heart. He was wounded in 1945, and the injuries included broken legs, foot, and ankle, facial burns, and temporary blindness.[6]
Hillerman attended the University of Oklahoma after the war, meeting Marie Unzner, a student in microbiology. The couple wed and had one biological child and five adopted children.[3] He graduated in 1948 with a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in journalism.[6]
From 1948 to 1962, he worked as a journalist, moving to Santa Fe, New Mexico, in 1952.[7] In 1966, he moved his family to Albuquerque, where he earned a master's degree from the University of New Mexico. During his time as a writer for the Borger News-Herald in Borger, Texas, he became acquainted with the sheriff of Hutchinson County, the man upon whom he would pattern the main character in his Joe Leaphorn novels. He taught journalism from 1966 to 1987 at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, and also began writing novels. He lived there with his wife Marie until his death in 2008. At the time of his death, they had been married 60 years and had 10 grandchildren.[3][8]
A consistently bestselling author, he was ranked as New Mexico's 22nd-wealthiest man in 1996. He wrote 18 books in his Navajo series. He wrote more than 30 books total, among them a memoir and books about the Southwest, its beauty, and its history. His literary honors were awarded for his Navajo books. Hillerman's books have been translated into eight languages, among them Danish and Japanese.[7][8]
Hillerman's writing is noted for the cultural details he provides about his subjects: Hopi, Zuni, European settlers, federal agents, and especially the Navajo Nation Police. His works in nonfiction and in fiction reflect his appreciation of the natural wonders of the American Southwest and his appreciation of its indigenous people, particularly the Navajo. His mystery novels are set in the Four Corners area of New Mexico and Arizona, sometimes reaching into Colorado and Utah, with occasional forays to the big cities of Washington, DC, Los Angeles, and New York City. The protagonists are Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee of the Navajo Nation Police. Lt. Leaphorn was introduced in Hillerman's first novel, The Blessing Way (1970). Sgt. Jim Chee was introduced in the fourth novel, People of Darkness. The two first work together in the seventh novel, Skinwalkers,[9] considered his breakout novel, with a distinct increase in sales with the two police officers working together.[7]
Hillerman repeatedly acknowledged his debt to an earlier series of mystery novels written by British-born Australian author Arthur W. Upfield and set among Australian Aborigines in remote desert regions of tropical and subtropical Australia. The Upfield novels were first published in 1928 and featured a half-European, half-aboriginal Australian hero, Detective-Inspector Napoleon (Bony) Bonaparte. Bony worked with deep understanding of Aboriginal traditions. The character was based on the achievements of an Aboriginal person known as Tracker Leon, whom Upfield had met during his years in the Australian bush.[7]
Hillerman discussed his debt to Upfield in many interviews and in his introduction to the posthumous 1984 reprint of Upfield's A Royal Abduction. In the introduction, he described the appeal of the descriptions in Upfield's crime novels. It was descriptions both of the harsh Outback areas and of "the people who somehow survived upon them" that lured him. "When my own Jim Chee of the Navajo Tribal Police unravels a mystery because he understands the ways of his people, when he reads the signs in the sandy bottom of a reservation arroyo, he is walking in the tracks Bony made 50 years ago."[10]
He also mentioned Eric Ambler, Graham Greene, and Raymond Chandler as authors who influenced him as he wrote the Leaphorn and Chee novels.[7]
In an interview published in Le Monde, Hillerman said his Navajo name means "He who is afraid of his horse".[11]
Tony Hillerman died on October 26, 2008, of pulmonary failure in Albuquerque at the age of 83,[3] and was interred at Santa Fe National Cemetery.[12]”

NARRATOR:
George Guidall (From the introduction and Biography of the Wikipedia article)
“George Guidall (born June 7, 1938[1]) is a prolific audiobook narrator and theatre actor.[2][3][4] As of November 2014, he had recorded over 1,270 audiobooks, which was believed to be the record at the time.[5][1]
Guidall is from New Jersey.[1] His family name is Shapiro, his stage name is Guidall a permutation of Gedalyah, his Hebrew name.[1] Guidall's father was a pharmacist, and his four brothers also went into the medical profession.[1] Guidall bucked the trend and went into theater.[1] He received a master's degree in social work in his 50s, going on to provide counseling during the day while acting at night.[1] He heard about audiobook narration through a fellow actor.[1]
Guidall lives in White Plains, New York and narrates his works in a small basement studio in nearby Irvington, New York.[1] He typically takes 3 to 4 days to complete a book.[1]
His narrations include Thomas Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow in 1986, and then again in 2014 as a new recording.[7] Guidall said the book took about 1 month working full-time daily and was one of his most difficult works.[5]
Guidall says he reads all his books beforehand and seeks to understand the book, not to just impart information but emotion and performance.[5] Guidall says many narrators are "just reading out loud. They don't have an emotional underpinning. There’s a rhythm to speech in terms of what's implied. If it's raining in the book, there’s got to be something about the voice that evokes the rain."[1] Guidall says audiobook narration "expands the author's intent, brings it into an immediacy. I am the author when I'm doing it. I'm a literary hermit crab finding a home in someone else's imagined truth."[1]
Guidall provides occasional presentations at libraries called "The Art and Artifice of Audiobook Narration".[1]”
- I’ve heard George do Jodi Picaout books, Lilian Jackson Braun books, and others. He has a wonderful, warm, calm, and charming delivery, minus any of the screechy, ear-shattering over-dramatizing of ancillary characters that so many narrators feel compelled to torture me with.

GENRE:
Mystery; Fiction; Mystery Thriller; Crime; Westerns; Thriller; Detective

TIME FRAME:
Contemporary for the time it was written (1970’s)

LOCATION:
(United States) Four Corners, New Mexico; Window Rock, Arizona; Albuquerque, New Mexico

SUBJECTS:
Native Americans; Indigenous Peoples; Witches; Lore; Land Topography

DEDICATION:
Not found

SAMPLE QUOTATION:
Excerpt From “Chapter 2:”
“A hundred miles south at Window Rock, the Wind People rattled at the windows of the Law and Order Building, where Joe Leaphorn was working his way through a week’s stack of unfinished case files. The file folder bearing the name of Luis Horseman was third from the bottom and it was almost ten o’clock when Leaphorn reached it. He read through it, leaned back in his chair, lit the last cigarette in his pack, tapped his finger against the edge of his desk and thought. I know where Horseman is. I’m sure I know. But there is no hurry about it. Horseman will keep. And then he listened to the voices in the wind, and thought of witches, and of Bergen McKee, his friend who studied them. He smiled, remembering, but the smile faded. Bergen, himself, was the victim of a witch—the woman who had married him, and damaged him, and left him to heal if he could. And apparently he couldn’t.
He considered the letter he had received that week from McKee—talking of coming back to the Reservation to continue his witchcraft research. There had been such letters before, but McKee hadn’t come. And he won’t come this time, Leaphorn thought. Each year he waits to pick up his old life it will be harder for him. And maybe now it’s already too hard. And, thinking that, Leaphorn snapped off his desk lamp and sat a moment in the dark listening to the wind.
At Albuquerque, four hundred miles to the east, the wind showed itself briefly in the apartment of Bergen McKee, as it shook the television transmission tower atop Sandia Crest and sent a brief flicker across the face of the TV screen he wasn’t watching. He had turned off the sound an hour ago, intending to grade final-examination papers. But the wind made him nervous. He had mixed a shaker of martinis instead, and drank slowly, making them last until, finally, he could sleep.
Tomorrow, perhaps, there would be the answer to his letter, and Joe Leaphorn would tell him that it was a good season for witchcraft gossip, or a poor season, or a fair season. And maybe, if prospects were good, he would go to the Reservation next week and spend the summer completing the case studies he needed to finish the book that no longer mattered to him. Or maybe he wouldn’t go.
He snapped on the radio and stood by the glass door opening on his apartment balcony. The wind had raveled away the cloud cover over Sandia Mountain and its dark outline bulked against the stars on the eastern horizon.
Ten stories below, the lights of the city spread toward the foothills, a lake of phosphorescence in an infinity of night. Behind him the radio announced that tomorrow would be cooler with diminishing winds. It then produced a guitar and a young man singing of trouble.
“But,” the singer promised, “life goes on.
“And years roll by,
And time heals all,
And soon we’re dead,
We’re peaceful dead.”
The sentiment parodied McKee’s mood so perfectly that he laughed. He walked back to his desk—a bulky, big-boned, tired-faced man who looked at once powerful and clumsy. He shuffled the ungraded exam papers together, dumped them into his briefcase, poured a final martini from the shaker, and took it into the bedroom. He looked at the certificate framed on the wall. It needed dusting. McKee brushed the glass with his handkerchief.
“Whereas,” the proclamation began, “it is commonly and universally known by all students of Anthropology that Bergen Leroy McKee, B.A., M.A., Ph.D., is in truth and in fact none other than MONSTER SLAYER, otherwise identified as the Hero Twin in the Navajo Origin Myth;
“And Whereas this fact is attested and demonstrated by unhealthy obsession and preoccupation of said Professor McKee, hereafter known as MONSTER SLAYER, with belaboring his students with aforesaid Origin Myth;
“And Whereas MONSTER SLAYER is known to have been born of Changing Woman and sired by the Sun; “And Whereas the aforesaid sexual union was without benefit of Holy Matrimony, and is commonly known to have been illicit, illegal, unsanctified and otherwise improper fornication;
“Therefore be it known to all men that the aforesaid MONSTER SLAYER meets the popular and legal definition of Bastard, and demonstrates his claim to this title each semester by the manner in which he grades the papers of his Graduate Seminar in Primitive Superstition.”
The proclamation had been laboriously hand-lettered in Gothic script, embossed with a notary public’s seal, and signed by all seven members of McKee’s seminar. Signed six years ago, the year he had won tenure on the University of New Mexico anthropology faculty—full membership in the elite of the students of man with W. W. Hill, and Hibben, Ellis and Gonzales, Schwerin, Canfield, Campbell, Bock and Stan Newman, Spuhler, and the others. The year he became part of a team unmatched between Harvard and Berkeley. The last good year. The year before coming home to this apartment and finding Sara’s closets empty and Sara’s note. Fourteen words in blue ink on blue paper. The last year of excitement, and enthusiasm, and plans for research which would tie all Navajo superstitions into a tidy, orderly bundle. The last year before reality.
McKee drained the martini, switched off the lights and lay in the darkness, hearing the wind and remembering how it had been to be Monster Slayer.”

RATING:.
4

STARTED READING – FINISHED READING
10-7-2023 to 10-15-2023
… (more)
 
Flagged
TraSea | 67 other reviews | Apr 29, 2024 |
This one is all Jim Chee's show. He is introduced as a young Navajo tribal police officer, with a chance to join the FBI. He grapples with the need to understand how white people think so that he can deal with them professionally, without short-changing his own heritage and traditions. When a woman contacts him for help in finding a box that was stolen from her home during her husband's absence he hesitates to take it on, but is drawn in when the husband himself calls to tell him there's been a misunderstanding, and the box is not important enough to warrant an investigation. The wife was ready to pay Chee handsomely to find it, and the husband offers him a smaller amount, basically to forget about it. In an apparent sub-plot, a hired killer is doing away with people who might know something about an oil rig explosion years ago, and Chee himself becomes a target when he tries to make a connection. Fast-paced, and engaging. As with The Blessing Way, it suffers a bit from "first appearance" weaknesses---we just don't know Chee well enough yet, and after getting familiar with Leaphorn in the first three books in this series, I was disappointed to be back to square one, so to speak. Nevertheless, I know now what Hillerman can do with a character, and I'm here for it.… (more)
 
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laytonwoman3rd | 32 other reviews | Apr 25, 2024 |

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Works
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Also by
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Members
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Popularity
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Rating
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Reviews
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Favorited
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