Summary and book reviews of Hunting Badger by Tony Hillerman

Hunting Badger

by Tony Hillerman

Hunting Badger
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  • First Published:
    Nov 1999, 288 pages
    Paperback:
    Jan 2001, 384 pages

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Book Summary

Tightly plotted and beautifully written, Hunting Badger proves once again that Tony Hillerman is a master storyteller.

Navajo crimebusters Leaphom and Chee are back together on a case, and at odds with the FBI over a backcountry manhunt in this latest thrilling addition to Tony Hillerman's best-selling series.

In 1998 three heavily armed "survivalists" came out of the Four Corners canyons in a stolen truck. They murdered a policeman, had a shootout with pursuers, and then vanished--eluding a manhunt that eventually involved hundreds of officers from more than twenty federal and state agencies. The crime and the bungled FBI investigation left behind a web of mysteries: Why did one of the bandits kill himself? How did the others escape? Why has no one in this impoverished area claimed the huge reward the government still offers? Most puzzling of all, what crime were they en route to commit when Officer Dale Claxton stopped them--and paid for his bravery with his life?

Tony Hillerman assigns these real puzzles to his fictional Navajo Tribal Police officers--Sergeant Jim Chee and retired Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn. The time is now, and the memory of the mishandled manhunt of 1998 is still painfully fresh. Three men stage a predawn raid on the Ute tribe's gambling casino. They kill one policeman, wound another, and disappear in the maze of canyons on the Utah-Arizona border. The FBI takes over the investigation, and agents swarm in with their helicopters, their high-tech equipment, and a theory of the crime that makes a wounded deputy sheriff a suspect. This development calls Chee in from his vacation, and a request for a favor draws in Leaphorn. Chee finds a fatal flaw in the federal theory, and Leaphorn sees an intriguing pattern connecting this crime with the exploits of a legendary Ute hero-bandit.

Tightly plotted and beautifully written, Hunting Badger proves once again that Tony Hillerman is a master storyteller.

Deputy Sheriff Teddy Bai had been leaning on the doorframe looking out at the night about three minutes or so before he became aware that Cap Stoner was watching him.

"Just getting some air," Bai said. "Too damn much cigarette smoke in there."

"You're edgy tonight," Cap said, moving up to stand in the doorway beside him. "You young single fellas ain't supposed to have anything worrying you."

"I don't," Teddy said.

"Except maybe staying single," Cap said. "There's that."
"Not with me," Teddy said, and looked at Cap to see if he could read anything in the old man's expression. But Cap was looking out into the Ute Casino's parking lot, showing only the left side of his face, with its brush of white mustache, short-cropped white hair and the puckered scar left along the cheekbone when, as Cap told it, a woman he was arresting for Driving While Intoxicated fished a pistol out of her purse and shot him. That had been about forty years ago, when ...

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Reviews

Media Reviews

Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine

The killing of law officers at an Indian casino precipitates a massive search, once again putting the Navajo Tribal Police in uneasy collaboration with the F.B.I. and other agencies. In an opening note, Hillerman reveals that a real 1998 manhunt inspired his fiction. The series about Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee has subtly changed in recent entries: There's more humor ; Jim Chee is far more talkative; and the whole enterprise is mellower and more relaxed. The Leaphorn-Chee relationship occasionally recalls Charlie Chan and number-one-son.

Washington Post Book World

Hillerman continues to dazzle...A standout.

Library Journal

Inspired by an actual 1998 manhunt on the Utah-Arizona border in which the FBI bungled the search for the killers of a police officer, Hillerman's (The First Eagle) latest mystery opens with the robbery of the Ute casino. What made Hillerman's early novels so compelling was the unique blend of Navajo lore, evocative Southwestern landscape, and intriguing mysteries. Unfortunately, in his later books the formula has grown stale; Hunting Badger offers a paint-by-the-numbers plot with cardboard villains. Still, diehard fans will want this.

Publishers Weekly

As usual in recent Hillerman books, the action goes on mostly inside the minds of his two lead characters. But there is one splendid helicopter ride into Gothic Creek Canyon that should speed up the calmest heart, several new insights into the mysteries of Navajo culture and a story with enough twists and surprises to make readers glad they checked in.

Reader Reviews

Tmeade

Hunting Badger book review
Tony Hillerman displaces a perfect balance of action and description in his excellent book Hunting badger. This book is about main characters Navajo tribal police officer Jim Chee and his once superior retired police chief Joe Leaphorn. The plot is ...   Read More

jon bull

postscript
Readers of this book will be interested to learn that the last of the desparados mentioned in the book was discovered this week in a canyon in southeast utah, dead, of course, with his pack, bed roll and AK-47 by his side. Chapter closed.

Abby Downing

This book was assigned to me for a project.
I had a wonderful time reading it.
And suggest it to anyone.
Enjoy

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