Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Wailing Wind by Tony Hillerman



From the back: Nothing had seemed complicated about the old "Golden Calf" case. A con game had gone sour. Wealthy old Wiley Denton had shot the swindler, called the police, confessed, and done his short prison time. No mystery there. Except why did the rich man's bride vanish? Cynics said she was part of the swindle plot, but the explanation never quite satisfied retired Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn, though the case was long over. Now, papers found by Sergeant Jim Chee and Officer Bernie Manuelito in a new homicide case connect the victim to Denton and o the mythical Golden Calf Mine. The first victim had been there just hours before Denton killed him. And while Denton was killing him, four children trespassing in the long-abandoned Wingate Ordance Depot reported police that they had heard what sounded like music and the cries of a woman.

The questions raised by this second Golden Calf murder draw Joe Leaphorn out of retirement and aren't answered until Leaphorn discovers what the young trespassers heard in the wailing wind.

Quote: She sat on a sandstone slab in a mixed growth of aspen and spruce, eating her sack lunch, thinking of Sergeant Jim Chee, and facing north to take advantage of the view. Pastora Peak and the Carrizo Mountains blocked off the Colorado Rockies, and the Lukachukai forest around her closed off Utah's peaks. But an infinity of New Mexico's empty corner spread below her, and to the left lay the northern half of Arizona. This immensity, dappled with cloud shadows and punctuated with assorted mountain peaks, was enough to lift the human spirit. At least it did for Bernie.

Why this book you might ask: 1. I am a fan of the series. 2. I hadn't read this book yet. 3. I found this unabridged CD of the book at a used book store for less than half price!

My Thoughts: I have liked all the novels in this series and liked this one just as well. The mystery was good, Jim Chee seems to be making some progress in his relationship with Bernie, the sense of place and people was good. For instance one of my favorite scenes was when Jim "helps" an FBI agent interview a Navajo singer. It is funny to read as Chee crafts his own interview of the medicine man into and around FBI's inept translator's interview. I like the way Hillerman writes about the land, as in the wrote above.

This was a fun read. You might need to read the earlier books to understand the relationships among the characters, but you won't be sorry.

Links:
Read part of the book.
A review I liked.
The Chee/Leaphorn novels
Unofficial Hillerman page
Hillerman's obituary at Huffington Post

Audio CD
Publisher: HarperAudio; Unabridged edition (May 7, 2002)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0060092580
ISBN-13: 978-0060092580

mystery, Navajo, Jim Chee, Joe Leaphorn, murder, Native American

2 comments:

J. Kaye said...

Can you believe that I have never read a book by this author? Considering the genre, I am shocked.

Wanda said...

Great bargain book find! I read my first Hillerman last year and though not especially taken with the "whodunnit" aspects of the story, the descriptions of the land and references to Native American culture were well worthy of my time.