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A Thief of Time by Tony Hillerman
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A Thief of Time (1988)

by Tony Hillerman

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Hillerman has a deep, from the heart, love of the land. It shows in his descriptions that bring geology and botany into the mix. And there is enough passing detail so that you could find things on a map and peruse images if you had the inclination. He is also a shrewd observer of human nature that is expressed in a whole gamut of Navajos as well as interlopers, good and bad. He is also a great writer. It is a potent, engaging mix. This was a great installation in the series. I'd gladly recommend it. ( )
  danhammang | Aug 17, 2018 |
Amazon Description: At a moonlit Indian ruin—where "thieves of time" ravage sacred ground in the name of profit—a noted anthropologist vanishes while on the verge of making a startling, history-altering discovery. At an ancient burial site, amid stolen goods and desecrated bones, two corpses are discovered, shot by bullets fitting the gun of the missing scientist.
There are modern mysteries buried in despoiled ancient places. And as blood flows all too freely, Navajo Tribal Policemen Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee must plunge into the past to unearth an astonishing truth and a cold-hearted killer.

Excellent! A Thief of Time is the name given to grave robbers and those who steal artifacts before the anthropologists can. Tony Hillerman has woven into this story so many interesting facts and superstitions. An enjoyable read. ( )
  Bettesbooks | Jul 8, 2018 |
Excellent characterizations and great plot plus unexpected twists. Genuine portrayal of the problems with unauthorized digging, illegal trade of ancient artifacts and academic rivalry. ( )
  SandyAMcPherson | Jun 4, 2018 |
Serviceable mystery with interesting details about Navajo life, the Anasazi (which I found out is a rather derogatory name for Pueblo Indians given to them by the Navajo), pottery, anthropologists. Not gritty enough (or maybe gross enough or creepy enough) for my tastes, but I've heard of Hillerman for a long time and it's good to have read him. ( )
  jjaylynny | Nov 12, 2016 |
Academic competition is fierce, especially when it’s between colleagues trying to get to the historic pottery remnants first to prove their theory and get published. Oh, and recognition in their field.

A thief of time is someone who robs graves in order to take something. In this case, it’s all about the Anasazi, a tribe which mysteriously disappeared around 1200CE. The ruins left behind appear as though the people planned on coming back, but never did.

The black market for pottery is hot, people will pay exorbitant amounts to own a piece of “authentic” pottery with questionable provenance. While Jim Chee is trying to chase down a stolen backhoe, Joe Leaphorn is trying to track down a missing anthropologist.

Personal baggage is heavy in this book. Chee’s relationship with teacher Mary Landon has hit the skids. She’s gone back to the midwest to be with her family and go back to school. In a letter to him, she expresses her deep love for him but sees no way around the white vs. Navajo conundrum they keep bumping against.

Joe Leaphorn is mourning the loss of beloved wife, Emma, who didn’t have Alzheimer’s after all but didn’t survive the surgery to remove a tumor. My heart sank when I read of her death. Interesting how easy it is to get caught up in the lives of fictional characters isn’t it?

While working their individual cases, Chee and Leaphorn eventually cross paths and discover they’re working the same case from different angles. The stolen backhoe is being used to uncover pottery, while a different anthropologist is stealing jaw bones to prove his theory.

A hike to a nearly unknown, unreachable Anasazi ruin, two helicopters converging on the same spot, and the case is solved. But this one seemed rather convoluted to me as it involved a decades old murder case Leaphorn had worked, a traveling tent show leading Navajos to the “Jesus Way,” and those using Chaco Culture National Historic Park as their base to study the Anasazi. Too many moving pieces to keep track of, and an unbelievable ending involving the aforementioned helicopters.

But the thing I have always enjoyed about Hillerman’s books is his love of the Southwest and his use of Navajo culture to keep his mysteries from being just another murder/stolen object procedural. His attention to the cultural differences pulls me in and keeps me there. ( )
1 vote AuntieClio | Aug 22, 2016 |
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This story is dedicated to Steven Lovato, firstborn son of Larry and Mary Lovato. May he always go with beauty all around him.
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The moon had risen just above the cliff behind her.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0061000043, Mass Market Paperback)

A noted anthropologist vanishes at a moonlit Indian ruin where "thieves of time" ravage sacred ground for profit. When two corpses appear amid stolen goods and bones at an ancient burial site, Navajo Tribal Policemen Lt. Joe Leaphorn and Officer Jim Chee must plunge into the past to unearth the astonishing truth behind a mystifying series of horrific murders.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:04:14 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

When two corpses appear amid stolen goods and bones at an ancient burial site, Navajo Tribal Policemen Lt. Joe Leaphorn and Officer Jim Chee must plunge into the past to unearth the astonishing truth behind a mystifying series of horrific murders. Movie rights sold and characters of Leaphorn and Chee licenses to Wildwood Enterprises (Robert Redford's production company).… (more)

» see all 11 descriptions

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