Joe Leaphorn & Jim Chee #18
by Tony Hillerman
It was like visiting with old friends when I picked up a copy of Tony Hillerman's The Shape Shifter. I've
come to know Navajo Tribal Police Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn and Officer Jim Chee over the years, through a long
series of books, first featuring Leaphorn, then introducing Chee, and later seeing these two characters working
together, though grudgingly. I've seen Chee's difficulty managing his police life with his spiritual life as a
singer. Iíve also seen him struggle with relationships. Iíve seen Leaphornís anguish over his wife's cancer and
her eventual death and his unconventional friendship with a belagaana (non-Indian) anthropologist.
In the latest Hillerman novel, The Shape Shifter, Chee is newly married and Leaphorn is retired but
occupying himself as a private detective, wondering if he should be concerned more with learning to fish or do
Sudoku than working. When a client goes missing and a cursed historical Navajo rug appears, Leaphorn (and Chee's
new bride) get drawn into an old case that begins to look a lot like murder.
As always, Hillerman tells a good story, weaving in a lot of native
history or spiritual lore. This time, it is the history of a rug
that should never have been woven, that defies all Navajo tradition.
Hillerman once again juxtaposes the greed of the belagaana
world against the Navajo "walk in beauty." Though I found this book
a little predictable and a little bit talky, I didn't mind because
I was riding along the reservation roads again with characters I
knew well and had missed. Hillerman never really disappoints me.
The Shape Shifter is still a good read.
Reviews of other titles in this series
#1 (Tony Hillerman)
of the Dead #2 (Tony Hillerman)
of Darkness #4 (Tony Hillerman)
in Time #8 (Tony Hillerman)
Man #17 (Tony Hillerman)
Shape Shifter #18 (Tony Hillerman)
with Wings (#1 Anne Hillerman)
of the Lion (#3 Anne Hillerman)
NOTE: Reviewer Janie
Franz is the author of Freelance Writing: Itís a Business, Stupid!and co-author of
The Ultimate Wedding Reception Book and The Ultimate Wedding Ceremony Book.
Coming Soon: The Ultimate Wedding Workbook.