The 7th book of his Navajo Mysteries series finally brings Jim Chee and Joe Leaphorn together. Unfortunately, it is to solve the attempted shooting of Jim Chee. Leaphorn connects his shooting with other murders on the reservation in what looks like an attempt to target “skinwalkers” – witches who, in this case, curse others with illness. Shooting a bone bead into the skinwalker is supposed to turn the curse around on them. But there is no known reason to suspect the victims of something so sinister, and it takes both Chee and Leaphorn to find the conspiracy behind it.
38. Tony Hillerman, A Thief of Time, 209 pages, Mystery, Hardback, 1988 (borrowed from the library).
Joe Leaphorn takes on one more case before retiring, a missing woman who is an anthropologist with a specialty of Anasazi pottery. Jim Chee is trying to catch people who keep stealing excavation equipment. Their cases start to intertwine when those who stole the equipment are linked with pot dealers, people dealing in ancients pots, often from looted ruins. The action is doubled as Chee and Leaphorn work different leads to try to find the anthropologist before all the loose ends, including her, are “tied up”.
39. Tony Hillerman, Talking God, 338 pages, Mystery, Paperback, 1989 (borrowed from the library).
Joe Leaphorn is searching for the identity of the dead man with the pointed shoes, just over the tracks from his jurisdiction, but with a note about a Navajo ceremony the next month, a Night Chant. His search leads him to Washington, DC. Jim Chee happens to be in DC at the same time, taking part of his vacation time to help a friend with her client, a man interested in Navajo culture who has been active in trying to get the Smithsonian to release remains they hold. Of course, Chee and Leaphorn start putting together a larger plot, involving foreign ambassadors, masks, and terrorism. It felt a bit contrived that Chee and Leaphorn would both be in Washington, DC, at the same time, but that was soon forgotten as the clues started to be pieced together.