The Thumbnail Book Reviews

by John Q McDonald --- 17 June 2002

The Fallen Man

by Tony Hillerman

This book is one of Hillerman's eighteen Jim Chee and Joe Leaphorn mysteries. Out on magnificent Ship Rock, a sacred pinnacle within the territory of the Navajo Nation, a skeleton is found on a high ledge. It turns out to be easily identified when Leaphorn, coming out of retirement, remembers a long ago missing person case, and brings it to acting Lieutenant Chee, of the Navajo Tribal Police. But when people who last saw this man alive start getting shot, it looks like this case isn't so simple after all. Hillerman creates lively characters in the world of the Navajo Nation and within its relationship to the white world outside. Sacred Ship Rock is looked upon with jealous pride, and people are bitter that adventurers look at it as just a rock to climb. Jim Chee, meanwhile, is having trouble with his fianceé, who is in touch with an old friend with a prying interest in the skeleton found on Ship Rock. It all comes together nicely, and with an appropriately ambiguous sense of justice. Hillerman writes with sensitivity and a spare style that is fast-moving and entertaining. It does make this reader wonder, though, how these books are viewed out there on Navajo lands.

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Also by Hillerman: [The Blessing Way] [Sacred Clowns]

[Other Mystery Books]