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The Blessing Way Mass Market Paperback – May 26, 2009
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About the Author
Tony Hillerman (1925–2008), an Albuquerque, New Mexico, resident since 1963, was the author of 29 books, including the popular 18-book mystery series featuring Navajo police officers Jim Chee and Joe Leaphorn, two non-series novels, two children’s books, and nonfiction works. He had received every major honor for mystery fiction; awards ranging from the Navajo Tribal Council's commendation to France 's esteemed Grand prix de litterature policiere. Western Writers of America honored him with the Wister Award for Lifetime achievement in 2008. He served as president of the prestigious Mystery Writers of America, and was honored with that group’s Edgar Award and as one of mystery fiction’s Grand Masters. In 2001, his memoir, Seldom Disappointed, won both the Anthony and Agatha Awards for best nonfiction.
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Top Customer Reviews
This book starts with the disappearance of Luis Horseman who thinks he has murdered someone and takes off for a lonely corner of the Navajo tribal lands. Leaphorn a Navajo 'Law and Order' sets out to find him, What he finds is a body - which seems a bit odd - the death is suspicious and witchcraft is suggested.
Leaphorn must sift through the facts and the fiction to understand the Navajo's death. I really enjoyed this part - listening to Leaphorn as he sorted out what people said and what they probably meant. The convoluted relationships which allowed him to figure out what happened to Luis
The story then cuts to a pair of researchers who are studying the Navajo and their culture and rituals - and this is where the action gets really good. I found the pursuit in this to be one of the best I have read. It was chilling to read and I couldn't put it down.
The last part of the book where the reason was revealed and the ultimate escape was all right. Quite amusing in parts, but not brilliant - well written though.
Overall, I really liked this book and have been searching out more of his stuff. I have said it before, but I will say it again, the culture is so well revealed - I was intrigued by it and loved the way it fitted in with the story without dominating it with excessive explanation. I also enjoyed his descriptions of the country, they were graphic and evocative.
I would recommend you try at least one of his stories, my favourite so far has been listening woman.
Witches are about in the Navajo country and Leaphorn -- the most rational of men -- perceives a connection between the tales of the witches and the murder of a young Navajo. Strange things occur: the throats of sheep are slashed, men dressed in wolfskins are seen, a hat is stolen, all of this leading to a confrontation in a cliff dwelling and a chase on a high desert plateau.
This is not the best novel of the series. Some of the deeds of a mild-mannered college professor fleeing the "witches" seem improbable. And Leaphorn is not yet fully developed as a unique character and master detective. But "Blessing Way" is a strong beginning to what would become a masterpiece series.
Hillerman's strengths are authenticity and atmosphere. Elements of Navajo culture, religion, and folkways are woven into the fabric of his novels. His landscapes are harsh and spectacular. Nature is magnificient, but also menacing. In this exotic setting, the supernatural seems almost possible and little chilly fingers tickle your spine. If you are a urbanite, you may not like Hillerman; but if you are drawn to big, blank spots on the map you will likely love him. Not the least of his accomplishments is that he has probably taught more people about the Navajo -- and generated more interest in Navajo culture -- than any other writer.
However, if you're approaching the technically-white but 'adopted'-Navajo master storyteller for the first time, and want to know where to begin, this is the place!
You will learn more authentic information about the Navajo culture from Hillerman than from all the academic types who have ever written on the subject. Not to mention Southwest Geography and Climate, along with the uncomfortable relationship between the Navajo tribal police and other law-enforcement agencies in the area.
From the creepy opening chapter, to the introduction of the great tribal policeman, Leaphorn, to the satisfying resolution of the mystery, there is no better way to meet Hillerman than in the book that started it all. Here are Arizona and New Mexico as you've always imagined them, complete with tourist-guide detail about places you'll HAVE to go visit after you read this. [The books really do make great travel guides, once you figure out where the locales are by consulting a good map.]
The *only* quibble anyone could have with this book is the Title, which is NOT Hillerman's own-- it was imposed on him by his publisher and has nothing to do with the story. Other than that, the book is perfect.
While the cultural/spiritual side of things is never far from the goings-on in a Hillerman story, they overshadow the crime/thriller element in this novel. That's not necessarily a bad thing; the mystery in this case is very slight and makes use of some convenient scapegoating at the end (not unlike secondary character Bergen McKee's theory on Navajo Wolves). The book gives us only the briefest character sketch of Leaphorn (he's absent from a lot of it), and we don't find out much about his wife or co-workers (half the fun - and sadness - of the later books). The transformation of McKee from milquetoasty professor to wilderness he-man is overdone and/or underexplained; fortunately it's a problem Hillerman avoids in the future. Even if things end up a bit too nicely, you've still been entertained for a few hours and learned a thing or two in the process - and bringing things into a harmony is a big part of the story, after all.
Hillerman is a remarkable author. He is able to tell his story in a way that keeps readers engaged while imparting pages of folklore that in lesser hands would put an audience to sleep. Then consider that he's been able to carve out a niche without much competition for thirty-plus years.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I really enjoyed all the information on Native American folklore and culture, but the pace of the novel was far too slow. Read morePublished 1 day ago by Laura E.
More than a police/detective murder mystery. Imbued with 4-Corner country cultural insights set in a background of majestic topography.
Anthropologic true to life.
The Blessing Way (1970) launched Tony Hillerman’s long-running Joe Leaphorn detective series, though Leaphorn, who is a officer of the Navajo Tribal Police, is really just a... Read morePublished 23 days ago by M. Buzalka
Terrible....I have read all the Tony Hillerman mysteries which are very good but I never knew about this one until I recently read Anne Hillermans' Spider Woman's Daughter where... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
This is a book I just couldn't get into reading. I kept with it but finally was skimming through the
pages to just get to the end. Read more
Loved the book. I think you have to be somewhat familiar with the geography of the book setting to fully appreciate the writing of the authorrPublished 2 months ago by stephen wolverton
Tony Hillerman, was an outstanding artist with the written word with the ability to intertwine fiction and historical fact to come out with stories that keep you reading until done... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Fawn