October 24th, 2012


Book Review: Skeleton Man, by Tony Hillerman

Diamonds and DNA in a cold case on Navajo lands.

Skeleton Man

HarperTorch, 2004, 368 pages

In 1956, an airplane crash left the remains of 172 passengers scattered among the majestic cliffs of the Grand Canyon - including an arm attached to a briefcase containing a fortune in gems. Half a century later, one of the missing diamonds has reappeared... and the wolves are on the scent.

Former Navajo Tribal Police Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn is coming out of retirement to help exonerate a slow, simple kid accused of robbing a trade post. Billy Tuve claims he received the diamond he tried to pawn from a mysterious old man in the canyon, and his story has attracted the dangerous attention of strangers to the Navajo lands - one more interested in a severed limb than the fortune it was attached to; another willing to murder to keep lost secrets hidden. But nature herself may prove the deadliest adversary, as Leaphorn and Sergeant Jim Chee follow a puzzle - and a killer - down into the dark realm of Skeleton Man.

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Verdict: Reading Skeleton Man is kind of like checking in to visit old friends who've become banal and boring. You still want to see them every now and then, but you miss the good times. I would urge anyone to read Tony Hillerman's Navajo mysteries - but start with the early ones. The later ones reach a point where you'd only read them if you are already a fan.

Also by Tony Hillerman: My review of The Sinister Pig.

My complete list of book reviews.