The Wailing Wind

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9780060194444: The Wailing Wind

To Officer Bernadette Manuelito, the man curled up on the truck seat was just another drunk -- which got Bernie in trouble for mishandling a crime scene -- which got Sergeant Jim Chee in trouble with the FBI -- which drew Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn out of retirement and back into the old "Golden Calf" homicide, a case he had hoped to forget.

Nothing had seemed complicated about that earlier one. A con game had gone sour. A swindler had tried to sell wealthy old Wiley Denton the location of one of the West's multitude of legendary lost gold mines. Denton had shot the swindler, called the police, confessed the homicide, and done his short prison time. No mystery there.

Except why did the rich man's bride vanish? The cynics said she was part of the swindle plot. She'd fled when it failed. But, alas, old Joe Leaphorn was a romantic. He believed in love, and thus the Golden Calf case still troubled him. Now, papers found in this new homicide case connect the victim to Denton and to the mythical Golden Calf Mine. The first Golden Calf victim had been there just hours before Denton killed him. And while Denton was killing him, four children trespassing among the rows of empty bunkers in the long-abandoned Wingate Ordnance Depot called in an odd report to the police. They had heard, in the wind wailing around the old buildings, what sounded like music and the cries of a woman.

Bernie Manuelito uses her knowledge of Navajo country, its tribal traditions, and her friendship with a famous old medicine man to unravel the first knot of this puzzle, with Jim Chee putting aside his distaste of the FBI to help her. But the questions raised by this second Golden Calf murder aren't answered until Leaphorn solves the puzzle left by the first one and discovers what the young trespassers heard in the wailing wind.

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Review:

A lost gold mine, a corpse in an abandoned pickup truck, and an eerie wailing heard on Halloween are among the delicious plot elements Tony Hillerman cooks up in his 15th novel featuring Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee. The two Navajo cops, one old and one young--who originally debuted in separate series but have been collaborating for many books now--are among the most engaging, fully human characters in crime fiction. As usual, Hillerman puts them to work in a suspenseful, satisfying tale that integrates a wealth of Navajo lore plus breathtaking evocations of the American Southwest, all delivered in prose as clear, clean, and easy-flowing as a mountain stream. Longtime readers will be delighted by several developments, including a prominent role for the appealing Officer Bernadette Manuelito and a glimpse at the phlegmatic Leaphorn's testy side. But Hillerman welcomes new arrivals as well, with enough exposition to get you oriented.

Many writers have tried to follow Hillerman's trail, setting murder mysteries in Native American cultural landscapes. Many do a fine job. But, as The Wailing Wind beautifully demonstrates, there's only one Tony Hillerman. In this book he's at the top of his game. --Nicholas H. Allison

About the Author:

Tony Hillerman (1925–2008), an Albuquerque, New Mexico, resident since 1963, was the author of 29 books, including the popular 18-book mystery series featuring Navajo police officers Jim Chee and Joe Leaphorn, two non-series novels, two children’s books, and nonfiction works. He had received every major honor for mystery fiction; awards ranging from the Navajo Tribal Council's commendation to France 's esteemed Grand prix de litterature policiere. Western Writers of America honored him with the Wister Award for Lifetime achievement in 2008. He served as president of the prestigious Mystery Writers of America, and was honored with that group’s Edgar Award and as one of mystery fiction’s Grand Masters. In 2001, his memoir, Seldom Disappointed, won both the Anthony and Agatha Awards for best nonfiction.

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