While browsing the stacks, I came across a copy of the late Tony Hillerman’s Shape Shifter, an addition to his Leaphorn/Chee series that I had not read. Hillerman’s descriptions of the landscape of New Mexico and Arizona are so vivid and clear that they take me instantly back to places I have not visited in many years. He eloquently captures the varied colors of the Southwest landscape, the play of light throughout the day, and the vastness of the terrain. Even without the mystery story, Hillerman’s novels would be a delight to read.
As an added bonus though, Hillerman has created two of the most interesting, appealing, and well-rounded characters in mystery fiction — Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee. Throughout this series of novels, readers have been able to watch the development of these characters, and to enjoy their often-touchy relationship. This novel finds Leaphorn retired from the Navaho Tribal Police and Chee married to Bernie Manuelito. But a letter from an old acquaintance reawakens Leaphorn’s interest in a case that he thought was behind him now.
Hillerman has a fine ear for dialog, and an understanding of how the various police forces – tribal, local, and federal – interact. Shape Shifter centers around a Navaho rug woven out of the sorrow of the forced resettlements of the Navaho in the 19th century and the legends of the shape shifters who slip from one form to the next as they bring evil to the world.
Check the WRL catalog for Shape Shifter