Comment: If you're looking for a thrilling, page turning, heart pounding adventure - move on; but if you're in the market for a thoughtful mystery set in a stunning location look no further. I think I would have enjoyed Skeleton Man wherever and however I'd read it, but it's quite possible that I particularly enjoyed it because I listened to most of it on a long solo car journey with absolutely no distractions, so I could take in every mellow, gravelly word read by George Guidall.
This series began way back in 1970 with The Blessing Way, starring Joe Leaphorn. In 1980 Hillerman introduced Jim Chee in People of Darkness; and in 1986 he brought his two characters together in Skinwalkers. Thirty-four years after the first book, Leaphorn is in retirement but he still has an investigative roll to play. However, the main action is with Jim Chee and his fiancée Bernie Manuelito (and I suspect we'll be seeing more of this duo in the future) who are on the path to solve the Skeleton Man mystery (according to Hopi legend, the Skeleton Man is the guardian spirit of the underworld).
A simple-minded young man has been imprisoned for a crime but fortunately for him he's a cousin of an old colleague of Jim Chee, and Chee sets out to prove him innocent. However, this won't be easy as the only way to corroborate his story of innocence is to find the remains of one of the 172 people killed in an airplane accident over the Grand Canyon 50 years earlier - the 'remains' in question being an arm attached to an attaché case full of diamonds. Meanwhile the plot quickly thickens with the arrival of the illegitimate daughter of the dead diamond dealer determined to find the bones, and a nasty bit of work determined to stop her.
Publishers Weekly and Booklist both give Skeleton Man starred reviews, and Marilyn Stasio, writing in the New York Times, says 'in his masterly reworking of this powerful myth, Hillerman creates a kachina for contemporary times -- a hermit who lives in a cave at the bottom of the Grand Canyon and dispenses diamonds (''the symbol of greed,'' according to one wary recipient) that can corrupt anyone who mistakes their cold glitter for true light.
As always, don't take my, or anyone else's word for it; instead browse an excerpt for yourself - only at BookBrowse.
This review is from the February 3, 2006 issue of BookBrowse Recommends. Click here to go to this issue.
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