Book Reviews of Sacred Clowns

Sacred Clowns
Sacred Clowns
Author: Tony Hillerman
ISBN-13: 9780060167677
ISBN-10: 006016767X
Publication Date: 10/1993
Pages: 305
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.

3.9 stars, based on 48 ratings
Publisher: Harpercollins
Book Type: Hardcover
Reviews: Amazon | Write a Review

22 Book Reviews submitted by our Members...sorted by voted most helpful

reviewed Sacred Clowns on + 29 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
A classic Tony Hillerman book. The story revolves around a crime committed on American Indian soil and the turmoil of the people surrounding the crime. Hillerman's books delve into the crime scene, crime fighting, while also depicting the lives of those surrounding the event. If you are a fan of crime writing, or a fan of Native American stories, this is a good read.
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Helpful Score: 2
This is a wonderful book. My son read it for his summer reading for school. There is a lot of history to this book. I liked it so much I found other books by Hillerman. A must read!!
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Helpful Score: 2
i really enjoyed this book. the story held my interest as well as the characters. any fan of tony hillerman and his characters joe leaphorn and jim chee will enjoy this book. pbs has shown a couple of tony hillerman's novels as shows under their "mystery" series. i enjoyed these mysteries shows also. mr. hillerman gives the reader an education into the native american indian culture with the different tribes mentioned within his stories.
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Helpful Score: 1
Against his editor's counsel, Tony Hillerman switched from nonfiction to fiction writing over 30 years ago, with a story ultimately entitled "The Blessing Way;" introducing an (at the time) new type of hero and a new setting to the realm of the mystery novel - a Navajo policeman named Joe Leaphorn and the world of the Diné, i.e. [Navajo] "people," living on the rugged plains, deserts and mountain ridges of the southwestern Four
Corners Country. From the first book on, Hillerman's novels drew in equal parts on the author's natural gift as a storyteller, his upbringing within and hence, intimate knowledge of the world he describes, and his training as a writer; all of these elements blending into fascinating storylines and vivid and accurate portrayals of the land and its people.

Based on the success of his Leaphorn series, Tony Hillerman then created a new hero and (initially: a second) series set in Dinetah (Navajo country): tribal policeman Jim Chee. But while Joe Leaphorn was married and methodical and seemed, over the course of the years, to have found a way to harmonize Navajo traditions and 20th century American life, the younger Chee, unmarried, initially trained to be a shaman and deeply traditional, yet at the same time drawn to women living in the white man's world, was struggling to find that same sense of balance.

Whether or not Hillerman's unequal heroes were always meant to meet, they eventually did so in "Skinwalkers" and have been solving crimes together ever since, and their disparate tempers and approaches to police work add another level of tension to the stories, in addition to the cultural differences between the Navajo and the world(s) surrounding them, and the tribal policemen's perpetual clashes with the federal authorities. In more than one novel, Hillerman transcends the world of the Navajo, bringing in and contrasting to it the views and traditions of other tribes of the Southwest, not all of them historically on friendly terms with the Navajo (e.g. the Hopi in "The Dark Wind," the Ute in "Hunting Badger" and the Zuni in "Dance Hall of the Dead"). In "Sacred Clowns," Chee and Leaphorn (who has long since gained a reputation as the "Legendary Lieutenant") must delve into the society of Tano Pueblo to solve the murder of a teacher at a Navajo school, which seems to be connected to a death in the pueblo. As they dig through layers and layers of secrets, they again face the skepticism of a society that has had its "issues" with the Diné in the past. Yet, they slowly unravel the mystery surrounding the Kachina dancers ("sacred clowns") at the heart of the story and finally come to an, as always, surprising conclusion.

If you have never read a book by Hillerman and it's important to you to get to know the main characters of a series as they develop over the course of time, you'll have no choice but to go all the way back to "The Blessing Way" and read your way through to this particular book (which in a way makes sense, of course and, given the caliber of these stories and their author, should be a lot of fun, too). But like every good writer, Hillerman provides enough background for Leaphorn and Chee for even a first-time reader to be able to understand and appreciate his heroes and the things that drive them from the context of any of their stories - and I'll almost guarantee that this won't remain your only Hillerman book for a long time anyway: you'll be hooked midway through the tale at the very latest and will want to know more about the Legendary Lieutenant, Sergeant Chee and their people as soon as possible and before long, will find yourself swallowing every other book about them, too. Oh, by the way ... they are still at work together, never mind that Joe Leaphorn retired from the police a couple of years ago; so you should probably also be prepared for new installments. Yet, while I have no doubt that those will all be good reads (so far, there isn't one weak book in the series), "Sacred Clowns" will forever remain one of my favorite stories about Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn and Sergeant Jim Chee.
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Helpful Score: 1
Vintage Jim Chee and Joe Leaphorn mystery. Soemone has killed one of the sacred clowns at a Kachina dance. During their investigation, they turn up a connection between this murder and two others.
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Helpful Score: 1
This story takes place in the United States Southwest. It is about a Navajo Tribal Police Officer and the lore and traditions of the Navajo.
reviewed Sacred Clowns on
Helpful Score: 1
In true Navajo style, Officer Jim Chee and Lt. Leaphorn of the Tribal Police go back to the beginning to decipher the sacred clown's message to the people of the Tano pueblo. Amid guarded tribal secrets and crooked Indian traders, they find a trail of blood that links a runaway schoolboy, two dead bodies, and the mysterious presence of a sacred artifact.
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Every time I read one of Hillerman's Jim Chee mysteries, I like them. This is one of the Jim Chee/Joe Leaphorn novels.
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A dancing koshare is murdered shortly after doing his dance. Jim Chee and Joe Leaphorn investigate in true Navahoe fashion. A koshare is from the Hopi tribe and for anyone who is interested in Indian lore this is explored by Hillerman who is one of the best. Very good book
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Good mystery which includes some lessons on Native American culture.
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I love all the Tony Hillerman books... fascinating insights into Native American culture, great scenic descriptions, characters you care about, interesting and captivating plots.
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From Publishers Weekly
Telling his story the Navajo way, Hillerman ( Coyote Waits ) fully develops the background of the cases pursued by Navajo Tribal Policemen, Lt. Joe Leaphorn and Officer Jim Chee, so that the resolutions--personal and professional--ring true with gratifying inevitability. A white woodshop teacher at St. Bonaventure's mission school is bludgeoned to death in his schoolroom; a student, a young boy from Tano Pueblo, is missing. The boy's uncle, a koshare, or sacred clown, in a kachina dance, is stabbed to death right after the ceremony in which he has symbolically warned of the dangers of selling sacred objects; an old man is killed on the highway in a hit and run. Chee, who is apprehensive about working for Leaphorn, tries to locate the missing boy, whose grandmother is on the Navajo Tribal Council, and to learn who ran down the old man, but he is distracted by his growing attachment to lawyer Janet Pete and by his desire to be a hataalii, or shaman, as well as a cop. Leaphorn searches for clues while simultaneously grieving for his wife who died 18 months earlier and considering his relationship with linguistics professor Louisa Bourebonette. Jurisdictional conflicts with the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Apache County Sheriff's Office reflect the cultural differences that obtain among tribes and clans as this first Leaphorn story in three years, steeped in Navajo lore and traditions, draws to its convincing conclusions.
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A great Leaphorn/Chee yarn.
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11th in the series with Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee of the Navajo Tribal Police. Detective Leaphorn is now Chee's direct supervisor, and while he might get exasperated at Chee's propensity to go off on his own, he appreciates his intelligence and non-linear thinking. Chee is smarting over being assigned to talk to a runaway kid, the grandson of a Tribal Council member, instead of working on the murder of a popular teacher. While waiting at a Tano Pueblo religious ceremony for the young boy to show up, one of the Tano koshares is struck down and killed. The koshares, or "sacred clowns", are supposed to remind the community to be good people and not to break the laws of the tribe. The murdered koshare was a good man of his people, and the teacher was a good man also - who would want them dead? The only connection discovered was the runaway boy. As usual, lots of excellent imagery of the surroundings, information about various cultural practices of the Navajo and the Hopi, and an interesting mystery. Chee learns that sometimes it might be the right thing not to arrest a guilty man, and Leaphorn is coming out of the depression caused by his wife's death. A new reader could start here but would miss all the backstory about Leaphorn and Chee, which would be a shame.
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you just cannot beat Hillerman! I believe I have read all the Leaphorn/Chee books now and in a way that saddens me as there will be no more. Thank you PBS for showing me the way.
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this ISBN is abridged on 2 cassettes - very enjoyable listen!
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An ancient trust is broken. During a Tano kachina ceremony something in the antics of the dancing koshare fills the air with tension. Moments later the clown is found brutally bludgeoned in the same manner that a reservation schoolteacher was killed just days before.....
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During a Tano Kachina ceremony, something in the antics of the dancing fills the air with tension. Moments later the clown is found brutally bludgeoned in the same manner that a reservation schoolteacher was killed just days before....
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I am a true fan of Tony Hillerman and really enjoy his books about Chee and Leaphorn. I have read about a dozen of them. The characters are always interesting, and I always learn something about Native American culture.
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During a Tano Kachina ceremony something in the antics of the dancing koshare fills the air with tension. Moments later the clown is found brutally bludgeoned in the same manner that a reservation schoolteacher ws killed just day before.
In true Navajo style, Officer Jim Chee and Lieutenant Leaphorn os Tribal Police go back to the beginning to decipher the sacrd clown's message to the people of th eTano pueblo. Amid guarded tribal secrets and crooked Indian traders,they find a trail of blood that links a runaway schoolboy,two dead bodies ,and the mysterious presence of a sacred artifact.
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Different cover than the one shown here but same great Hillerman mystery.
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Dust jacket is missing, but otherwise in good condition.