The state police and FBI are baffled when an old man and a teenage girl are brutally murdered. The blind Navajo Listening Woman speaks of ghosts and of witches. But Lieutenant Leaphorn of the Navajo Tribal Police knows his people as well as he knows cold-blooded killers. His incredible investigation carries him from a dead man's secret to a kidnap scheme, to a conspiracy that stretches back more than one hundred years. Leaphorn arrives at the threshold of a solution--and is greeted with the most violent confrontation of his career.
- Edgar Awards (Edgar Allan Poe Awards)
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October 05, 2004
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Excerpt from Listening Woman by Tony Hillerman
The southwest wind picked up turbulence around the San Francisco Peaks, howled across the emptiness of the Moenkopi plateau, and made a thousand strange sounds in windows of the old Hopi villages at Shongopovi and Second Mesa. Two hundred vacant miles to the north and east, it sand-blasted the stone sculptures of Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park and whistled eastward across the maze of canyons on the Utah-Arizona border. Over the arid immensity of the Nokaito Bench it filled the blank blue sky with a rushing sound. At the hogan of Hosteen Tso, at 3:17 P.M., it gusted and eddied, and formed a dust devil, which crossed the wagon track and raced with a swirling roar across Margaret Cigaret's old Dodge pickup truck and past the Tso brush arbor. The three people under the arbor huddled against the driven dust. Tso covered his eyes with his hands and leaned forward in his rocking chair as the sand stung his naked shoulders. Anna Atcitty turned her back to the wind and put her hands over her hair because when this business was finished and she got Margaret Cigaret home again, she would meet the new boy from the Short Mountain Trading Post. And Mrs. Margaret Cigaret, who was also called Blind Eyes, and Listening Woman, threw her shawl over the magic odds and ends arrayed on the arbor table. She held down the edges of the shawl.
"Damn dirty wind," she said. "Dirty son-of-a-bitch."
"It's the Blue Flint boys playing tricks with it," Hosteen Tso said in his old man's voice. He wiped his eyes with the backs of his hands and looked after the whirlwind. "That's what my mother's father told me. The Blue Flint boys make the wind do that when they play one of their games."
Listening Woman put the shawl back around her shoulders, felt carefully among the assortment of bottles, brushes and fetishes on the table, selected a clear plastic prescription vial, and uncapped it.
"Don't think about that," she said. "Think about what we're doing. Think about how you got this trouble in your body." She poured a measure of yellow corn pollen from the vial and swiveled her blind face toward where the girl was standing. "You pay attention now, daughter-of-my-sister. We're going to bless this man with this pollen. You remember how we do that?"