Another Review at MyShelf.Com

Skeleton Man
Joe Leaphorn & Jim Chee #17

by Tony Hillerman

      Retired Navaho Tribal Police Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn just can't stay away from the office. He has asked for a little assistance when a young Hopi is suspected of robbery and murder. Seems that Billy Tuve was trying to pawn a twenty-thousand dollar diamond for twenty bucks when the pawnbroker became suspicious and notified the local cops. There had been a recent local holdup and murder involving diamonds and evidence pointed to Billy as the culprit. Billy Tuve had suffered brain damage in a horse-related accident as a young boy and is generally regarded by those who know him as being somewhat childlike and incapable of such a vicious act.

There are other stories and legends in the local area that tend to support Billy's claim that the diamond was given to him by a strange old hermit who lived on sacred Hopi land at the bottom of the Grand Canyon and Joe Leaphorn asks Police Sergeant Jim Chee to look into it to see if they can establish Billy Tuve's innocence.

News of large and valuable diamonds surfacing around the Grand Canyon sends up a flag for Joanna Craig, the illegitimate daughter of a diamond merchant who was killed in a plane crash over the Canyon some fifty years earlier. Her father's fortune has been claimed in the name of a foundation run by a ruthless and dishonest lawyer and if Joanna can recover any of her father's skeleton, the DNA match should prove her to be the rightful heir. But the crooked lawyer has heard about these discoveries, too, and sends his own mercenaries to make sure that no evidence of Joanna's birthright leaves the floor of the Canyon.

When Jim Chee, his fiancée Bernie Manuelito, Joanna Craig, and the hired guns all converge on the same area at the same time, you can imagine the fireworks. Throw in a sudden violent thunderstorm and you add another dimension to the challenge.

This is Tony Hillerman's seventeenth offering in the Leaphorn/Chee series and the tales continue to be entertaining as well as educational in the ways of Native Americans. It's a good book that flows well and tells an easy-to-follow story.

Reviews of other titles in this series

Skinwalkers #1 (Tony Hillerman)
Dance of the Dead
#2 (Tony Hillerman)
People of Darkness #4 (Tony Hillerman)
Thief in Time #8 (Tony Hillerman)
Skeleton Man #17 (Tony Hillerman)
The Shape Shifter #18 (Tony Hillerman)
Rock with Wings (#1 Anne Hillerman)
Song of the Lion (#3 Anne Hillerman)

The Book

Harper Collins
February 1, 2006

The Reviewer

Dennis Collins
Reviewed 2006
NOTE: Reviewer Dennis Collins is the author of The Unreal McCoy.
© 2006