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A Thief of Time
Joe Leaphorn & Jim Chee #8

by Tony Hillerman


Noted anthropologist Dr. Eleanor Friedman-Bernal vanishes from Chaco Canyon. She drove off to Farmington and no one has seen her since.

At the same time, a backhoe goes missing from the Navajo Tribal motor pool.

As a favor to an old friend, Joe Leaphorn of the Navajo Tribal police and on the brink of retirement, begins to look into her disappearance. A look at her home leads him to believe she meant to return.

Meanwhile, Officer Jim Chee is assigned the case of the missing backhoe. Clues lead him to the revival tent of Christian evangelist Slick Nagai, who has been known to deal with antiquities from many caves excavated on the Anasazi sites. One of his customers is Dr. Eleanor Friedman-Bernal.

Chee's attempt to solve the backhoe mystery and Leaphorn's trying to solve the disappearance of Friedman lead them to "thiefs of time" (pot hunters), who steal the antiquities, and to another anthropologist bent on securing his reputation at all costs.

A Thief of Time (a thief of time is a pot hunter) is another absorbing story of the Navajo Tribal Police. It combines police work, archaeology and indian culture. As is the case with all Hillerman's novels, the author presents a vivid picture of the Navajo country and of the Navajo culture and way of life. His characters are well developed. There is sometimes an uneasy relationship between the veteran Leaphorn and young Chee, but they come to respect each other's beliefs.

Always worth a trip to the land of the Navajo.

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 Torch / HarperCollins
June 2009; reprint from 1988
9780061000041 / 0061000043

The Reviewer

Barbara Buhrer
Reviewed 2009
© 2009