Select one of the keywords
Skeleton Man    by Tony Hillerman order for
Skeleton Man
by Tony Hillerman
Order:  USA  Can
HarperCollins, 2004 (2004)
Hardcover, e-Book

Read an Excerpt

* *   Reviewed by G. Hall

Tony Hillerman's legions of fans will be thrilled to read his latest mystery about the Navajo police team of Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee. Although Skeleton Man is not the strongest in the series, the southwestern setting and Native American lore always appeal. Those of us not fortunate to live within the Four Corners area of the American Southwest, can vicariously enjoy Hillerman's descriptions of constantly changing clouds over the Chuska Mountains and the brilliant palette of colors of the canyon walls.

This time, retired Joe Leaphorn and Sergeant Jim Chee are brought together to help an old police friend clear his simple-minded cousin, Billy Tuve, of robbery charges. The boy, picked up with a diamond allegedly stolen from a trading post, tells a complicated story about receiving it in trade from a mysterious old man down in the Grand Canyon. In Skeleton Man, Hillerman weaves a complex plot that keeps the reader on her toes. It involves the true life 1956 collision of two airplanes over the Grand Canyon - which killed all aboard and dumped bodies and luggage into the depths of the canyon.

After Tuve tells his strange story, a full cast of characters surfaces looking for diamonds. Middle-aged Joanna Craig seeks the body of her father, a diamond courier on the plane, in order to claim an inheritance. Other players have more nefarious goals. Leaphorn, Chee and Chee's fiancée, Bernie Manuelito, team together to search for the source of the diamonds and to clear Tuve's name. The book climaxes as they descend into the canyon, along with several more criminally minded characters, and get caught in the midst of a severe thunderstorm and flash flood.

Though Skeleton Man's plot is a bit convoluted, it is a pleasure to enjoy the Grand Canyon from our armchairs, and also to learn about the skeleton man of Hopi lore, who taught his people not to fear death. And long time series fans will be happy to know that the romantically long-suffering Jim Chee has finally found the right woman.

Note: Opinions expressed in reviews and articles on this site are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of BookLoons.

Find more Mystery books on our Shelves or in our book Reviews