Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Tony Hillerman, Mystery Author of the American West, Dies at Age 83

[photo by Janis Turk]
Honor to Tony Hillerman upon his death this week came Monday in the New York Times, as long-time mystery critic and reviewer Marilyn Stasio provided his obituary. In discussion groups all over the Net, readers marveled at his age, mourned his passing, and exchanged comments about his popular mystery series featuring Navajo police officers Jim Chee and Joe Leaphorn.

Here's a checklist of the Chee/Leaphorn series:

Leaphorn & Chee books

1. The Blessing Way (1970)
2. Dance Hall of the Dead (1973)
3. Listening Woman (1978)
4. People Of Darkness (1980)
5. The Dark Wind (1982)
6. The Ghostway (1984)
7. Skinwalkers (1986)
8. A Thief of Time (1988)
9. Talking God (1989)
10. Coyote Waits (1990)
11. Sacred Clowns (1993)
12. The Fallen Man (1996)
13. The First Eagle (1998)
14. Hunting Badger (1999)
15. The Wailing Wind (2002)
16. The Sinister Pig (2003)
17. Skeleton Man (2004)
18. The Shape Shifter (2006)

Hillerman also wrote several off-series mysteries, saw at least four films made from his writing, and there are a number of critical and biographical volumes that discuss the author and his work.

I found the complex relationships between Chee and Leaphorn and the women in their lives to be a constant in the books, and combined with Hillerman's detailed exploration of Western Native American spirituality and life, these made the books deeper and more re-readable than for their plots alone. The emphasis on a harmony of one's spirit and one's life is best reflected in the greeting phrase that Hillerman's characters used so often: May you walk in beauty.

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