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Cave of Bones (2018)

by Anne Hillerman

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3942556,056 (3.72)22
A New York Times Bestseller Anne Hillerman brings together modern mystery, Navajo traditions, and the evocative landscape of the desert Southwest in this intriguing entry in the Leaphorn, Chee, and Manuelito series. When Tribal Police Officer Bernadette Manuelito arrives to speak at an outdoor character-building program for at-risk teens, she discovers chaos. Annie, a young participant on a solo experience due back hours before, has just returned and is traumatized. Gently questioning the girl, Bernie learns that Annie stumbled upon a human skeleton on her trek. While everyone is relieved that Annie is back, they're concerned about a beloved instructor who went out into the wilds of the rugged lava wilderness bordering Ramah Navajo Reservation to find the missing girl. The instructor vanished somewhere in the volcanic landscape known as El Malpais. In Navajo lore, the lava caves and tubes are believed to be the solidified blood of a terrible monster killed by superhuman twin warriors. Solving the twin mysteries will expose Bernie to the chilling face of human evil. The instructor's disappearance mirrors a long-ago search that may be connected to a case in which the legendary Joe Leaphorn played a crucial role. But before Bernie can find the truth, an unexpected blizzard, a suspicious accidental drowning, and the arrival of a new FBI agent complicate the investigation. While Bernie searches for answers in her case, her husband, Sergeant Jim Chee juggles trouble closer to home. A vengeful man he sent to prison for domestic violence is back--and involved with Bernie's sister Darleen. Their relationship creates a dilemma that puts Chee in uncomfortable emotional territory that challenges him as family man, a police officer, and as a one-time medicine man in training. Anne Hillerman takes us deep into the heart of the deserts, mountains, and forests of New Mexico and once again explores the lore and rituals of Navajo culture in this gripping entry in her atmospheric crime series.… (more)
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Showing 1-5 of 25 (next | show all)
I continue to really enjoy this series, and I think that Anne Hillerman is really coming into her own as a writer. Still wielding the consistent legacy of her father's commitment to the people and region she's writing about, but Bernie just continues to develop and flower as a character. Very interested to see what paths both she and Chee elect to pursue in the future. ( )
  jennybeast | Apr 14, 2022 |
An extremely slow-paced novel. I think that the unhurried nature is by design as a means to reflect the cultures represented in these books, but for me it made the story tedious, nothing really piqued my interest.

The other thing is, if Manuelito drive enough miles, mostly back and forth to and from nowhere in particular, and enough seemingly random events happen, then all the pieces of the puzzle finally fall into place where a clear picture of the crime(s) is in front of Manuelito / Chee / Leaphorn's face. There is no real methodology to solving the mystery except for dragging things out until they become clear. In other words, let's leave it ALL to luck and happenstance and... case solved! The end.

I like the landscape descriptions in these books, and the books in general are entertaining enough, I suppose, but I always feel let down at the end. Sometimes I thought this one might jump up to 3-1/2 stars and the other times drop to 2 or 2-1/2, but I'll leave it at 3 stars if you like these sorts of books set in the Southwest US. ( )
  Picathartes | Jan 17, 2022 |
When Navajo Tribal Police Officer Bernadette Manuelito arrives to speak at an outdoor character-building program for at-risk teens, she discovers chaos.
  BLTSbraille | Sep 8, 2021 |
When Bernie Manuelito is coerced into giving a talk to a group of wayward teenagers completing an outdoor encounter group, she finds more than she expected.

One of the girls has gone missing – and the male councilor sent to look for her has also disappeared into the wilderness of the El Malpais Lava Tubes – an area that the Navajo believe was formed from the clotted blood of a monster. The missing girl returns quickly and seemed to have taken shelter in an ancient burial site – complete with skeleton and beautiful pictographs. But her searcher is still missing.

Clearly something is going on the among the staff of the outdoor encounter group as they struggle to secure financing for the camp which seems to be as troubled as the kids they are trying to help.

In the meantime, Bernie’s husband, Jim Chee also in the Navajo police, has been sent to do some training in Santa Fe; he’s asked to check into a missing man who may be merely in hiding from his mother and wife’s intense conflict. Jim also agrees to keep an eye on Bernie’s troubled sister Darleen, who seems to be involved with several shady characters while trying out a new art school program in her first venture living away from home.

There is a small appearance by Joe Leaphorn who does some necessary background sleuthing.

All in all it’s a satisfying read, even though I had worked out much of the mystery. Although I still prefer her father’s depth and subtlety , Anne Hillerman’s books also focus on the Navajo culture and the beauty of the area. I enjoy them enough to continue the series.

I am left with the idea that I would love to see the lava tubes and caves in El Malpais National Park. ( )
  streamsong | Jan 23, 2021 |
Landscapes and settings beautifully rendered - plot convoluted and repetitive - characters not of the depth we are traditionally drawn to in Hillerman novels.

A map would again be welcome - not sure why one appears in some books, then not in others as locales change.

"Unit" overworked. Culver was an unnecessary and distracting subplot. ( )
  m.belljackson | Jan 4, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 25 (next | show all)
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Cave of Bones is dedicated to the memory of Navajo Police Officer Houston James Largo, who was killed in the line of duty; and to my dear brother and supportive fan Steve Hillerman, who died of cancer August 23, 2017.
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Annie Rainsong knew that today she would die.
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A New York Times Bestseller Anne Hillerman brings together modern mystery, Navajo traditions, and the evocative landscape of the desert Southwest in this intriguing entry in the Leaphorn, Chee, and Manuelito series. When Tribal Police Officer Bernadette Manuelito arrives to speak at an outdoor character-building program for at-risk teens, she discovers chaos. Annie, a young participant on a solo experience due back hours before, has just returned and is traumatized. Gently questioning the girl, Bernie learns that Annie stumbled upon a human skeleton on her trek. While everyone is relieved that Annie is back, they're concerned about a beloved instructor who went out into the wilds of the rugged lava wilderness bordering Ramah Navajo Reservation to find the missing girl. The instructor vanished somewhere in the volcanic landscape known as El Malpais. In Navajo lore, the lava caves and tubes are believed to be the solidified blood of a terrible monster killed by superhuman twin warriors. Solving the twin mysteries will expose Bernie to the chilling face of human evil. The instructor's disappearance mirrors a long-ago search that may be connected to a case in which the legendary Joe Leaphorn played a crucial role. But before Bernie can find the truth, an unexpected blizzard, a suspicious accidental drowning, and the arrival of a new FBI agent complicate the investigation. While Bernie searches for answers in her case, her husband, Sergeant Jim Chee juggles trouble closer to home. A vengeful man he sent to prison for domestic violence is back--and involved with Bernie's sister Darleen. Their relationship creates a dilemma that puts Chee in uncomfortable emotional territory that challenges him as family man, a police officer, and as a one-time medicine man in training. Anne Hillerman takes us deep into the heart of the deserts, mountains, and forests of New Mexico and once again explores the lore and rituals of Navajo culture in this gripping entry in her atmospheric crime series.

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