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The Shape Shifter
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

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
December 2007
Mass market paperback
0060563478 / 978-0060563479
Mystery

The Reviewer

Janie Franz
Reviewed 2008
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.
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