A dying man is murdered. A rich man's wife agrees to pay three thousand dollars for the return of a stolen box of rocks. A series of odd, inexplicable events is haunting Sergeant Jim Chee of the Navajo Tribal Police and drawing him alone into the Bad Country of the merciless Southwest, where nothing good can survive . . . including Chee. Because an assassin waits for him there, protecting a thirty-year-old vision that greed has sired and blood has nourished. And only one man will walk away.
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While he is debating this decision he is drawn into a case of simple burglary that just continues to grow and expand, including oil rig explosions, dead bodies disappearing and suddenly being stalked by a killer.
Chee isn't alone in his quest, Mary Landon has managed to get involved in the mystery and Chee has to keep her alive along with keeping himself from harm.
I enjoyed meeting Chee and Mary, it will be interesting to move forward in this series to when Chee starts working with Leaphorn.more
It is in this book that blue-eyed blonde, Mary Landon first makes her acquaintance with Chee. I found her to be an unlikable character with an aggressive, pushy, prodding, provocative, smart-mouth personality and arrogant attitude and was glad to know, from reading subsequent books of this particular series, Chee and she never married.
Alas, it is also in this book that Chee is on another mission - to learn more about white people and their culture. His yataalii uncle, who was to train him in the art along the path of balance and beauty, instructed Chee that he must first truly understand the value system of the white people, knowing everything it contains, before fully being able to embrace his decision of following the traditional Navajo walk.
Tony Hillerman packed this book full of relevant Navajo culture and lore, as always. Near the end of the story, Chee explains, "We don't have much violence, we Navajos. What there is is mostly associated with witchcraft. Changing Woman taught us how to cope with the Navajo Wolves. We turn the evil around so it works against the witch." The story ends with Chee's spirit in need of repair: "But he knew the cause and the cure. Changing Woman had taught them about it when she formed the first clans of the Dinee from her own skin. The strange ways of strange people hurt the spirit, turned the Navajo away from beauty. Returning to beauty required a cure." Hence the planning for a traditional Enemy Way ceremony to be held.
As with all of the Tony Hillerman books, I would give more than five stars if I could.