Hailed as "a wonderful storyteller" by the New York Times, and a "national and literary cultural sensation" by the Los Angeles Times, bestselling author Tony Hillerman is back with another blockbuster novel featuring the legendary Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn and Sergeant Jim Chee. Former Navajo Tribal Police Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn comes out of retirement to help investigate what seems to be a trading post robbery. A simple-minded kid nailed for the crime is the cousin of an old colleague of Sergeant Jim Chee. He needs help and Chee, and his fianc e Bernie Manuelito, decide to provide it. Proving the kid's innocence requires finding the remains of one of 172 people whose bodies were scattered among the cliffs of the Grand Canyon in an epic airline disaster 50 years in the past. That passenger had handcuffed to his wrist an attach case filled with a fortune in -- one of which seems to have turned up in the robbery. But with Hillerman, it can't be that simple.
In MWA Grandmaster Hillerman's sterling 17th Chee/Leaphorn novel, a 1956 collision between passenger planes high above the Grand Canyon leaves a courier's arm and attached diamond-filled security case unaccounted for after almost half a century. Enter retired Navajo Tribal Police Lt. Joe Leaphorn, who must try to connect the dots between an old robbery involving a valuable diamond and a more recent crime involving another diamond, both of which may somehow be related to the plane-crash jewels. The puzzle soon draws in fellow Navajo officer Sgt. Jim Chee and former cop Bernie Manuelito, Chee's soon-to-be bride. Billy Tuve, a cousin of Chee's lawman buddy Cowboy Dashee, is arrested after trying to pawn a gem believed to have come from the more recent robbery. Dashee enlists Chee's help to verify Tuve's story of a mysterious old man who gave him the jewel during a journey to a canyon-bottom shrine. But the good guys soon learn there are plenty more people in the hunt, and some will stop at nothing to get what they're after. The stakes are high and the danger escalates clear through to the final pages. Hillerman continues to shine as the best of the West. Agent, Maureen Walters at Curtis Brown. (Dec.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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January 31, 2006
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Excerpt from Skeleton Man by Tony Hillerman
Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn, retired, had been explaining how the complicated happening below the Salt Woman Shrine illustrated his Navajo belief in universal connections. The cause leads to inevitable effect. The entire cosmos being an infinitely complicated machine all working together. His companions, taking their mid-morning coffee break at the Navajo Inn, didn't interrupt him. But they didn't seem impressed.
"I'll admit the half-century gap between the day all those people were killed here and Billy Tuve trying to pawn that diamond for twenty dollars is a problem," Leaphorn said. "But when you really think about it, trace it all back, you see how one thing kept leading to another. The chain's there."
Captain Pinto, who now occupied Joe Leaphorn's preretirement office in the Navajo Tribal Police Headquarters, put down his cup. He signaled a refill to the waitress who was listening to this conversation, and waited a polite moment for Leaphorn to explain this if he wished. Leaphorn had nothing to add. He just nodded, sort of agreeing with himself.
"Come on, Joe," Pinto said. "I know how that theory works and I buy it. Hard, hot wind blowing gets the birds tired of flying. One too many birds lands on a limb. Limb breaks off, falls into a stream, diverts water flow, undercuts the stream bank, causes a landslide, blocks the stream, floods the valley, changes the flora and that changes the fauna, and the folks who were living off of hunting the deer have to migrate. When you think back you could blame it all on that wind."
Pinto stopped, got polite, attentive silence from his fellow coffee drinkers, and decided to add a footnote.
"However, you have to do a lot of complicated thinking to work in that Joanna Craig woman. Coming all the way out from New York just because a brain-damaged Hopi tries to pawn a valuable diamond for twenty bucks."