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Hunting Badger Hardcover – November 9, 1999

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; 1st edition (November 9, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060192895
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060192891
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (149 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #462,819 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews Review

The marvelous Hunting Badger is Tony Hillerman's 14th novel featuring Navajo tribal police officers Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee. Here the two cops (who appeared in separate books early on but whose paths now cross routinely) are working two angles of the same case to catch the right-wing militiamen who pulled off a violent heist at an Indian casino. Hillerman serves up plenty of action and enough plot twists to keep readers off balance, leading up to a satisfyingly tense climax in which Leaphorn and Chee stalk a killer in his hideout. But through it all, the cardinal Hillerman virtues are in evidence: economical, pellucid prose; a panoply of Indian-country characters who seem to rise right up off the page; vivid evocations of the Southwest's bleak beauty; and rich insights into Navajo life and culture. (Hillerman once told an interviewer that the highest compliment he'd ever received was many Navajo readers' assumption that he himself is Navajo--he's not.)

While first-time readers will find plenty to enjoy in Hunting Badger, it holds special pleasures for longtime fans. There's more and deeper contact between Leaphorn and Chee, and we continue to see further into the prickly Leaphorn's human side (though without fuss or sentimentality). Chee finally begins to get over Janet Pete (it took about six books) and inch toward a new love interest. And in a moving section involving Chee's spiritual teacher Frank Sam Nakai, the shaman provides a key insight into the case.

In a world teeming with "sense of place" mysteries--set in Seattle, Alaska, the Arizona desert, or Chicago--it can be a shock to return to Hillerman, who started it all, and realize just how superior he is to the rest of the pack. --Nicholas H. Allison

From Publishers Weekly

Picking up a new Hillerman book has the high comfort level of revisiting a favorite old Western hotel like the Bishop's Lodge in Santa Fe or the Ahwani at YosemiteAthe accommodations will always be first class and the scenery spectacular. Not that Hillerman ignores the passage of time: his two Navajo cops, Jim Chee and Joe Leaphorn, age and change as we all do. There's a moment in the novel when Chee meets with his retired former boss at the Anasazi Inn dining room in Farmington, N. Mex. "He had looked right past the corner table and the stocky old duffer sitting there with a plump middle-aged woman without recognizing Joe Leaphorn.... He had seen the Legendary Lieutenant in civilian attire before, but the image he carried in his mind was of Leaphorn in uniform." As for the prickly Sergeant Chee, he has to contend with physical problems as well as with the end of one romance and the beginning of anotherAnot to mention the very real possibility of being picked off by a sniper during the search for the men who robbed a casino owned by the Ute tribe. In a rare author's note, Hillerman talks about an actual 1998 case in which the FBI turned the killing of a Colorado police officer into a gigantic fiasco. The shadow of that failed investigation hangs over the search in this book, leading to many anti-FBI jibes ("If the Federal Bureau of Ineptitude says it, it must be true," another retired cop tells Leaphorn). 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. Major ad/promo; 15-city TV satellite tour; simultaneous HarperAudio. (Nov.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

Now I need to be sure and read the next book in the series.
Cynthia Welsh
The characters are well developed and the story is beautifully crafted as usual.
Frances Barrineau
The story is rushed and spends way too much time referring to an older manhunt.
Alexandra Hayne

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

41 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Doug Vaughn HALL OF FAME on December 7, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Those who love the Tony Hillerman books should really appreciate Hunting Badger. While it is lighter on some of the aspects of Navajo culture that we have come to expect in these books, the strong re-emergence of Joe Leaphorn's character is a welcome surprise. Even in retirement he is giving Sgt. Chee fits. And the introduction of a new love interest for Chee offers numerous possibilities for future stories.
What makes Hillerman's books work are these characters and their struggle to live in the modern world and yet not forsake that of their ancestors. This dynamic, which plays a significant part in each of his novels, is what makes these tales something more than average who-done-its. In fact, it is seldom the solving of the crime that is the main focus, but how it is solved. Just as the workings of Sherlock Holme's mind is central to Conan Doyle's stories, the workings of Leaphorn's mind (and the influence of Navajo culture and tradition) play a big part in Hillerman's stories. In this one, the study of Navajo myths and legends plays a big part in cracking the case.
I couldn't subsist on a steady diet of Hillerman, but I would hate not to have a new Leaphorn/Chee story each year or so to help me slow down the pace of my life and see, for a few hours, with a different perspective. Very pleasant reading.
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By blender on August 15, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Having traveled the Four Corners area a lot the past few years, as I read this book, I could envision all the locations that Hillerman cites in Hunting Badger - Tuba City, Chinle, Window Rock, Farmington, etc. I found myself enchanted and drawn away, driving down those dusty washboard reservation roads, imagining that I was riding along with Chee and Leaphorn as they chased down George Ironhand, Buddy Baker, and Everett Jorie.
Hillerman's vast knowledge and familiarity with the geographical terrain and the Navajo traditions that are woven into his novels are a proven recipe for success. Though Leaphorn is still adjusting to his life as a retired Navajo Tribal Police Lieutenant, his sharp mind and investigative skills have not dulled. In Hunting Badger, Hillerman continues Sergeant Jim Chee's progression as a Navajo Shaman, in juxtaposition with his occupation as a police officer, which Chee's grandfather reluctanctly accepts as the way of this present world. Chee also moves slightly out of Leaphorn's shadow, taking on a less subservient role as the retired Leaphorn gives Chee more credit for his ability as an investigator.
This novel is well-written from start to finish - several times I found myself following the wrong trail as I tried to figure out whodunit and why, only to be brought back on track by Chee and Leaphorn. Made me want to return to the Four Corners area once more, to look at the beautiful terrain as Chee and Leaphorn would see it.
Peace Out.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Samuel Louis on December 21, 1999
Format: Hardcover
For me, the '5-star' book of Hillerman's canon is 'A Thief of Time,' which really had a gripping, suprising mystery, good villians, and a good dose of the Navajo culture/geography descriptions that set his books apart.
'Hunting Badger' is, IMHO, a minor work in the pantheon, but extremely readable and enjoyable. It's good to see that as they grow older and more mature, Chee and Leaphorn are finally beginning to develop a relationship that transcends the mentor/acolyte status they've always had and becomes--dare we say it--friendship? Also, it's a relief to see that Chee is finally ditching Janet Pete and opening his mind to a relationship "closer to home," while Leaphorn is finally acknowledging that there is a life after his beloved Emma. These are the real things that are interesting about the story, plot strands that all radiate from the wisdom of a central metaphor, the death of a central Navajo figure in Chee's life.
The mystery itself is pretty routine, and the plot, always secondary in a Hillerman novel to the characters, culture, and landscape, is less important than ever. What ultimately makes this rewarding for long-time fans of the series is the satisfying direction Hillerman has established for future novels.
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32 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Terry Mathews on November 17, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I've read all of Hillerman's series showcasing Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee. I've not been disappointed in any of the stories, including the latest.
Hillerman's characters are now so familiar to me that I fall right into their 'Navajo Time' rhythm and feel at home in their part of the world.
To me, the plots/crimes are almost secondary to learning about the wise Leaphorn and the hungry for knowledge Chee.
I'll continue to read Hillerman for as long as he writes. With characters like these, he will never run out of good plot lines.
P.S. I like the new love interest in Chee's life. Janet Peete was never right for him....
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By D. McGilvray on December 28, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Tony Hillerman has written another engaging Chee/Leaphorn mystery, and although it's not my favorite work of the series, Hunting Badger is an excellent read. As far as contemporary mystery writing is concerned Hillerman is one of the best. The continuing evolution of his main characters is as interesting as the plot. With each book we get to know new sides of Jim Chee and the Legendary Lieutenant Leaphorn who had always been somewhat aloof until his wife's death and his retirement. It's nice to see him tread new ground after all these years. As always Hillerman is extremely adept at evoking the beautiful landscape of the Four Corners region, which regular readers have come to know and love. Within the mystery genre you're not likely to find a better sustained series, and Hunting Badger, if not the best in the series, nicely continues the tradition.
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More About the Author

Tony Hillerman was the former president of the Mystery Writers of America and received its Edgar® and Grand Master awards. His other honors include the Center for the American Indian's Ambassador Award, the Silver Spur Award for the best novel set in the West, and the Navajo Tribe's Special Friend Award. He lived with his wife in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

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