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Shape Shifter    by Tony Hillerman order for
Shape Shifter
by Tony Hillerman
Order:  USA  Can
HarperCollins, 2006 (2006)
Hardcover, Audio, e-Book

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* *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

Joe Leaphorn has retired from the Navajo Tribal Police, but finds time hangs heavy on his hands. When a colleague from his official past sends him a picture of a valuable, antique, one-of-a-kind, handwoven rug that had supposedly burned to ashes in a fire, Joe's heart starts to pump. The picture shows the rug hanging on a man's wall ash free. As Joe investigates as a civilian he calls in some markers from his past and digs deep into the rug owner's history. What he finds is a man who kills without compunction. One who is not as he seems. He becomes whatever it suits him to at any given moment. As though he were a shape shifter.

Tony Hillerman, an author noted for his knowledge of the Southwest and its indigenous people, ties the history of the Navajo and the backdrop of their lands into a ripping good mystery. The rug in question, in its weaving, tells the story of the Navajos' long trail home from where they had been resettled so the white man could plunder their ancient land. Hillerman's knowledge of the history of the Navajo is extensive and makes the reader feel as though the author had been born into the tribe. Not so. But he has become a part of their culture through the books he writes.

Hillerman has won many awards with his writing including The Navajo Tribe's Special Friend Award and The Center for the American Indian's Ambassador Award.

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