Entertaining But Utterly Implausible, December 13, 2004
Reviewer: Gary F. Taylor "GFT" (Biloxi, MS USA)
First published in 1978, LISTENING WOMAN continues Tony Hillerman's "Joe Leaphorn" novels, a series set on Southwestern Native American lands and featuring Lt. Leaphorn, who investigates crimes on the reservation. In this instance, an almost-deadly encounter with a killer during a traffic stop leads Leaphorn to the scarcely populated and remote Short Mountain district.
As always, Hillerman's portrait of the Navajo people remaining on the reservation is filled with the fascination of folklore and legend; his plots, however, remain a sore point. LISTENING WOMAN begins extremely well--but before all is said we had everything from highjacked helicopters to kidnapped Boy Scouts in a credibility-straining combination, not to mention a blood and thunder conclusion that seems more akin to The Lone Ranger than any remotely plausible reservation crime.
As for mystery, as is often the case in Hillerman's work the label is misapplied: there is none at all, and LISTENING WOMAN would be better described as crime fiction or perhaps better still as action-adventure. For all the flaws, however, it is an entertaining and quick read that fans of the series will likely enjoy.
I really enjoy Tony Hillerman's writings. It could be slightly predictable at times, but the style and story are done well enough to carry it. This was the first I read of his, and it made me continue to seek out his books. I enjoyed this story considerably and recommend it too.
Tony Hillerman spins excellent mystery stories set in the the American Southwest. A blind shaman called Listening Woman talks of witches and restless spirits but Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn of the Nvajo Tribal Police is sure the murederer of an old man and a teenage girl was human.
Number four of the Joe Leaphorn/Jim Chee series of books centering on murder on the Navaho reservation. Only Leaphorn is featured in this book about the deaths of an old man and young girl. From the backcover: Leaphorn's investigation carries him from a dead man's secret to a kidnap scheme, to a conspiracy that stretches back more than one hundred year.
The state police and FBI are baffled when an old man and a teenaged girl are brutally murdered. The blind Navajo Listening Woman speaks of ghosts and witches. But Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn knows his people and begins an investigation that leads to the most violent confrontation of his career.