DAVID'S LAST BOOK REVIEW: 'Rock With Wings': Anne Hillerman Continues the Jim Chee-Joe Leaphorn Navajo Tribal Police Series Begun by Her Father Tony Hillerman

Reviewed by David M. Kinchen
DAVID'S LAST BOOK REVIEW: 'Rock With Wings': Anne Hillerman Continues the Jim Chee-Joe Leaphorn Navajo Tribal Police Series Begun by Her Father Tony Hillerman

The publication of Anne Hillerman's "Rock With Wings" (Harper, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, 336 pages, $27.99) is wonderful news for fans of Tony Hillerman's (1925-2008) Navajo Police series featuring Jim Chee and Joe Leaphorn.

Anne Hillerman is Tony's daughter and is an outstanding author in her own right, and the research she did (see below in author's note for more about this) shows in this police procedural featuring Chee, his wife, Bernadette Manuelito, Leaphorn and their fascinating family and friends.

Navajo Tribal cops Jim Chee and Bernadette Manuelito, and their mentor, the legendary Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn, investigate two perplexing cases.


Doing a good deed for a relative who's starting a tour bus service in Monument Valley offers the perfect opportunity for Sergeant Jim Chee and his wife, Officer Bernie Manuelito, to get away from the daily grind of police work. But two cases will call them back from their short vacation and separate them—one near Shiprock, and the other at iconic Monument Valley.

I was reminded of the 1988 Dirty Harry movie "The Dead Pool", the last of the series featuring Clint Eastwood as SFPD Inspector Harry Callahan, which dealt with a movie production plagued by mysterious deaths,  in the scenes in Monument Valley, where a motion picture is being filmed. Both movies are horror films.

Chee follows a series of seemingly random and cryptic clues that lead to a missing woman, a coldblooded thug, and a mysterious mound of dirt and rocks that could be a gravesite. Bernie has her hands full managing the fallout from a drug bust gone wrong, uncovering the origins of a fire in the middle of nowhere, and looking into an ambitious solar energy development with long-ranging consequences for Navajo land.


There's more than enough action for a fan of the late, great Tony Hillerman in "Rock With Wings." Leaphorn doesn't play a major role in the novel, since he's recovering from line-of-duty gunshot wounds, but his presence is felt by Bernie and Jim. Thanks, Anne, for continuing the outstanding series created by your dad, a decorated World War II veteran and a member of the Greatest Generation!

About the author
Anne Hillerman, daughter of best-selling mystery writer Tony Hillerman, continued  her father's Navajo detective series with "Spider Woman's Daughter," published  Oct. 1, 2013 (HarperCollins.) The book follows the adventures of Joe Leaphorn, Jim Chee and Bernadette Manuelito as they track a would-be cop killer, travel to Chaco Canyon on the trail of a murderer, and discover intrigue in the world of ancient Indian art and artifacts.

She is the author eight non-fiction books including "Tony Hillerman's Landscape: On the Road with Chee and Leaphorn." She and photographer Don Strel made numerous road trips to photograph and write about the landscapes beloved by New Mexico's best known mystery writer. Working on that book inspired her novel.

"In the process of researching Tony Hillerman's Landscape, I re-read all of the Chee/Leaphorn mysteries, paying close attention to the settings. I ran into mud, dust storms, rez dogs, snow and those pricelessly beautiful days Tony Hillerman wrote about for more than 35 years," Anne said. "I loved nearly every minute of it. My personal highlights included New Mexico's Bisti badlands, the mysterious landscape near Ship Rock and vast, empty Chaco Canyon."

Anne, the eldest of Tony and Marie Hillerman's six children, came to New Mexico as a child and enjoys living in the Southwest. Her other major non-fiction projects include "Gardens of Santa Fe," with features photos of Santa Fe's finest gardens and interviews with their creators, and "Santa Fe Flavors: Best Restaurants and Recipes."

Both received top honors at the New Mexico Book Awards. She worked for many years as a journalist, receiving awards for her writing from the New Mexico Press Association and the National Federation of Press Women. When she isn't working, Anne likes to ski, garden and experiment with new recipes in the kitchen. She is a founder of the Tony Hillerman Writers Conference held annually in Santa Fe, N.M.

for more on Tony Hillerman (1925-2008)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tony_Hillerman

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