Shining a Light on Tony Hillerman – the Jim Chee and Joe Leaphorn Mysteries

In 1970, Tony Hillerman published THE BLESSING WAY, the first book in the Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee police procedurals.  Leaphorn and Chee are tribal investigators on a Navajo reservation in the southeast United States.  Leaphorn is deliberate in his actions, a thinker who examines things in minute detail and who knows and understands the people he serves on a reservation that stretches for miles.  Jim Chee is young, far more impetuous than his superior officer, and caught between the two worlds of tribal culture and that of the larger culture of the United States.

The first book in the series, THE BLESSING WAY, a finalist for the Edgar Award for Best First Mystery, was published in 1970.  LISTENING WOMAN and THE THIEF OF TIME were finalists for the Edgar Award for Best Mystery and Hillerman won the Edgar for DANCE HALL OF THE DEAD.  He was a finalist twice for the Anthony Award and won it in 1988 for SKINWALKERS.  SKINWALKERS was a finalist for the Macavity Award and THE THIEF OF TIME won the award for Best Mystery. The last book, THE SHAPE SHIFTER, was published in 2006.  There are eighteen books in the Leaphorn and Chee series, all wonderful stories, satisfying mysteries, and culturally enlightening in a manner that adds to the telling.

Hillerman won the GRAND MASTER AWARD from MYSTERY WRITERS OF AMERICA  in 1991.The awards won by Tony Hillerman indicate that sometimes the books that win deserve to do so.

PBS aired television adaptations of some of the books for MYSTERY in 2002.

Hillerman died in 2008 at the age of 83 and left some of the best stories about the American west of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

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