The car fire didn't kill Navajo Tribal Policeman Delbert Nez, a bullet did. Officer Jim Chee's good friend Del lies dead, and a whiskey-soaked Navajo shaman is found with the murder weapon. The old man is Ashie Pinto. He's quickly arrested for homicide and defended by a woman Chee could either love or loathe. But when Pinto won't utter a word of confession or denial, Lt. Joe Leaphorn begins an investigation. Soon, Leaphorn and Chee unravel a complex plot of death involving an historical find, a lost fortune...and the mythical Coyote, who is always waiting, and always hungry.
Tribal Police Lt. Joe Leaphorn and Officer Jim Chee investigate the murder of a fellow Navajo policeman. (Jan.) -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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June 27, 2005
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Excerpt from Coyote Waits by Tony Hillerman
OFFICER JIM CHEE was thinking that either his right front tire was a little low or there was something wrong with the shock on that side. On the other hand, maybe the road grader operator hadn't been watching the adjustment on his blade and he'd tilted the road. Whatever the cause, Chee's patrol car was pulling just a little to the right. He made the required correction, frowning. He was dog-tired.
The radio speaker made an uncertain noise, then produced the voice of Officer Delbert Nez. "... running on fumes. I'm going to have to buy some of that high-cost Red Rock gasoline or walk home."
"If you do, I advise paying for it out of your pocket," Chee said. "Better than explaining to the captain why you forgot to fill it up."
"I think ..." Nez said and then the voice faded out.
"Your signal's breaking up," Chee said. "I don't read you." Nez was using Unit 44, a notorious gas hog. Something wrong with the fuel pump, maybe. It was always in the shop and nobody ever quite fixed it.
Silence. Static. Silence. The steering seemed to be better now. Probably not a low tire. Probably... And then the radio intruded again.
"... catch the son-of-a-bitch with the smoking paint gun in his hand," Nez was saying. "I'll bet then..." The Nez voice vanished, replaced by silence.
"I'm not reading you," Chee said into his mike. "You're breaking up."
Which wasn't unusual. There were a dozen places on the twenty-five thousand square miles the Navajos called the Big Rez where radio transmission was blocked for a variety of reasons. Here between the monolithic volcanic towers of Ship Rock, the Carrizo Range, and the Chuska Mountains was just one of them. Chee presumed these radio blind spots were caused by the mountains but there were other theories
Deputy Sheriff Cowboy Dashee insisted that it had something to do with magnetism in the old volcanic necks that stuck up here and there, like great black cathedrals. Old Thomasina Bigthumb had told him once that she thought witches caused the problem. True, this part of the Reservation was notorious for witches, but it was also true that Old Lady Bigthumb blamed witches for just about everything.
Then Chee heard Delbert Nez again. The voice was very faint at first. "... his car," Delbert was saying. (Or was it "... his truck"? Or "... his pickup"? Exactly, precisely, what had Delbert Nez said?) Suddenly the transmission became clearer, the sound of Delbert's delighted laughter. "I'm gonna get him this time," Delbert Nez said.