Though listed as a Leaphorn and Chee novel, Joe Leaphorn barely figures in this one. In it, Chee and Bernie Manuelito get drawn into a deadly contest between two factions searching for diamonds lost in a decades-old airline disaster that sent two commercial planes and everything they held plummeting into the depths of the Grand Canyon.
It's certainly an interesting plot idea, and the descriptions of the canyon are superb, but the strong Native traditions of so many of Hillerman's Leaphorn & Chee novels definitely takes a back seat in this one.
This is a bit fluffier of reading than most of Hillerman's. It just didn't seem to have the depth his writing usually does--a somewhat superficial telling of the tale. This is probably not helped by the introduction/ending being Leaphorn talking to his buddies--interesting idea, glad Hillerman didn't make it a habit. In some ways, the book seems mostly an introduction, then it's an end. A good end, but I just started to feel things were happening when it showed up.
Watching Chee & Bernie navigate new interaction territories (engaged rather than supervisor/employee) was nice. I'm hoping there is another book after this one because I'd like to see that continue (and I just like Bernie as a character).
This book was interesting in the clear bad guys, the clear good guys, and the not really either woman in the center. Her character was consistent, but it results in being unable to pigeon-hole her.
Nice light Hillerman. Enjoy!
Former Navajo Tribal Police lieutenant Joe Leaphorn comes out of retirement to help investigate what seems to be a trading post robbery. A simpleminded kid nailed for the crime is the cousin of an old colleague of Sergeant Jim Chee. He needs help, and Chee and his fiancee, Bernie Manuelito, decide to provide it.
Proving the kid's innocence requires finding the remains of one of 172 people whose bodies were scattered among the cliffs of the Grand Canyon in an epic airline disaster fifty years in the past. The passenger had handcuffed to his wrist an attache case filled with a fortune in diamonds-one which seems to have turned up in the robbery.
But the Hillerman, it can't be that simple. The daughter of that long-dead diamond dealer is also seeking his body. So is a most unpleasant fellow, willing to kill to make sure she doesn't succed. These two tense tales collide deep in the canyon at the place where the old man died trying to build a cult reviving reverence for the Hopi guardian of the Underworld. It's a race to the finish in a thunderous monsoon to see who will survive, who will be brought to justice, and who will finally unearth the Skeleton Man.