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The Blessing Way Mass Market Paperback – May 26, 2009

4.3 out of 5 stars 250 customer reviews
Book 1 of 20 in the Leaphorn and Chee Series

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Editorial Reviews


"Brilliant . . . As fascinating as it is original." -- -- St. Louis Post-Dispatch --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; Reprint edition (May 26, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061808350
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061808357
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.7 x 7.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (250 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #30,921 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
I loved this novel, and while I guessed the Whodunnit, the why dunnit was less easy to guess. What I really liked about this was the action, and the culture. The insight into the Navajo community and culture was extraodinary and so infused in the book as that it didn't seem forced.

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.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Tony Hillerman has written 15 or so novels about Navaho policemen working in the high,dry canyon country of New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah. Published in 1970, this is the first in the series, introducing Joe Leaphorn, who will become well and favorably known in subsequent novels.
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.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
If you're already a Hillerman fan, you already know this is where it all started and you don't need me to tell you how good it is.
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.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
If you do an advanced search on Amazon for "mysteries published in 1970" you'll first find a lot of Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew books, and some by old reliables Mickey Spillane, Ross MacDonald, and John Dickson Carr. Then there's the newcomer, Tony Hillerman with his first anthropological (or is it "anthropomystical" ?) mystery and hero Joe Leaphorn.

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.
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