Three armed men raid the Ute tribe's gambling casino, and then disappear in the maze of canyons on the Utah-Arizona border. The FBI takes over the investigation, and agents swarm in with helicopters and high-tech equipment. Making an explosive situation even hotter, these experts devise a theory of the crime that makes a wounded deputy sheriff a suspect -- a development that brings in Tribal Police Sergeant Jim Chee and his longtime colleague, retired Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn to help.
Hillerman returns to his time-tested heroes, Navajo tribal police officers Sergeant Jim Chee and Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn (retired), for yet another satisfying mystery. For a listener, comfort comes with familiarity: the vivid sense of time and place conveyed. This is thanks in part to Guidall's reading, relaxed in its pacing yet sharp in its character development (demonstrating, once again, why he's considered to be among the best in the spoken-audio field). Based in part on a real 1998 case, the story concerns the armed robbery of a casino on the Ute reservation. The suspects have disappeared, and Chee has to see if he can find a local link to the crime. This involves lots of legwork, talking to local characters holed up in their remote trailer homes. Here Hillerman is in top form, creating dialogue that will bring listeners into real sympathy with the people and proceedings described. Also good on audio is Hillerman's strict sense of linear narrative, his respect for straight-ahead storytelling. Simultaneous release with the HarperCollins hardcover. (Dec.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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December 31, 2000
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Excerpt from Hunting Badger by Tony Hillerman
Deputy Sheriff Teddy Bai had been leaning on the doorframe looking out at the night about three minutes or so before he became aware that Cap Stoner was watching him.
"Just getting some air," Bai said. "Too damn much cigarette smoke in there."
"You're edgy tonight," Cap said, moving up to stand in the doorway beside him. "You young single fellas ain't supposed to have anything worrying you."
"I don't," Teddy said.
"Except maybe staying single," Cap said. "There's that."
"Not with me," Teddy said, and looked at Cap to see if he could read anything in the old man's expression. But Cap was looking out into the Ute Casino's parking lot, showing only the left side of his face, with its brush of white mustache, short-cropped white hair and the puckered scar left along the cheekbone when, as Cap told it, a woman he was arresting for Driving While Intoxicated fished a pistol out of her purse and shot him. That had been about forty years ago, when Stoner had been with the New Mexico State Police only a couple of years and had not yet learned that survival required skepticism about all his fellow humans. Now Stoner was a former captain, augmenting his retirement pay as a rent-a-cop security director at the Southern Ute gambling establishment -- just as Teddy was doing on his off-duty nights.
"What'd ya tell that noisy drunk at the blackjack table?"
"Just the usual," Teddy said. "Calm down or he'd have to leave."
Cap didn't comment. He stared out into the night. "Saw some lightning," he said, pointing. "Just barely. Must be way out there over Utah. Time for it, too."
"Yeah," Teddy said, wanting Cap to go away.
"Time for the monsoons to start," Cap said. "The thirteenth, isn't it? I'm surprised so many people are out here trying their luck on Friday the thirteenth."
Teddy nodded, providing no fodder to extend this conversation.
But Cap didn't need any. "But then it's payday. They got to get rid of all that money in their pay envelopes." Cap looked at his watch. "Three-thirty-three," he announced. "Almost time for the truck to get here to haul off the loot to the bank."
And, Teddy thought, a few minutes past the time when a little blue Ford Escort was supposed to have arrived in the west lot. "Well," he said, "I'll go prowl around the parking areas. Scare off the thieves."