Sergeant Jim Chee of the Navajo Tribal Police is troubled by the nameless corpse discovered just inside his jurisdiction, at the edge of the Jicarilla Apache natural gas field. More troubling still is the FBI's insistence that the Bureau take over the case, calling the unidentifiedvictim's death a "hunting accident."
Bestseller Hillerman's 16th Chee/ Leaphorn adventure offers deeper intrigue and a tighter plot than his previous entry, The Wailing Wind (2002), in this enduring series. When the body of an undercover agent, who's been looking for clues to the whereabouts of billions of dollars missing from the Tribal Trust Funds, turns up on reservation property near Four Corners, Navajo cop Sgt. Jim Chee and Cowboy Dashee, a Hopi with the Federal Bureau of Land Management, investigate. But the book's real star is officer Bernadette "Bernie" Manuelito, Chee's erstwhile romantic interest, now working in the New Mexico boot heel for the U.S. Border Patrol. The miles have only strengthened her feelings for Chee-and vice versa. A routine patrol puts Bernie on the trail of an operation involving some old oil pipelines that connects to the Four Corners murder. Meanwhile, Joe Leaphorn is checking into the same murder from another direction. The three lines converge on a conspiracy of drugs, greed and power, and those who most profit, including the "sinister pig" of the title, will stop at nothing to keep it a secret. With his usual up-front approach to issues concerning Native Americans such as endlessly overlapping jurisdictions, Hillerman delivers a masterful tale that both entertains and educates. (May 6) Forecast: PBS has announced a second Mystery! series based on a Hillerman work, The Thief of Time, the breakout book that made him a bestseller in 1988. His memoir, Seldom Disappointed (2001), won an Agatha Award. And the 77-year-old author recently signed a new two-book contract. Less flashy than some newer names in the field, Hillerman shows no sign of faltering in popularity. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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October 26, 2004
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Excerpt from The Sinister Pig by Tony Hillerman
David Slate reached across the tiny table in Bistro Bis and handed an envelope to the graying man with the stiff burr haircut.
"You are now Carl Mankin," Slate said. "You are newly retired from the Central Intelligence Agency. You are currently employed as a consultant for Seamless Weld. Along with your new credit card, Carl, that envelope holds a lot of authentic-looking stuff from Seamless. Business cards, expense account forms -- that sort of material. But the credit card should cover any expenses."
"Carl Mankin," the burr-haired man said, inspecting the card. "And a Visa card. 'Carl Mankin' should be easy to remember. And by next Tuesday, I actually will be newly retired from the CIA." He was older than middle age, well past sixty, but trim, sunburned, and young looking. He sorted through the papers from the envelope and smiled at Slate. "However, I don't seem to find a contract in here," he said.
Slate laughed. "And I'll bet you didn't expect to find one, either. The senator works on the old-fashioned 'gentlemen's agreement' contract. You know, 'Your word's as good as your bond.' That sounds odd here in Washington these days, but some of the old-timers still like to pretend there is honor alive among the political thieves."
"Remind me of what that word is, then," the new Carl Mankin said. "As I remember it, you buy my time for thirty days, or until the job is done. Or failing that, I tell you it can't be done. And the pay is fifty thousand dollars, either way it works out."
"And expenses," Slate said. "But the credit card should cover that unless you're paying somebody to tell you something." He chuckled. "Somebody who doesn't accept a Visa card."
Carl Mankin put everything back into the envelope, and the envelope on the table beside his salad plate. "Who actually pays the credit card bill? I noticed my Carl Mankin address is in El Paso, Texas."
"That's the office of Seamless Weld," Slate said. "The outfit you're working for."
"The senator owns it? That doesn't sound likely."