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People of Darkness Mass Market Paperback – May 26, 2009

4.7 out of 5 stars 167 customer reviews
Book 4 of 20 in the Leaphorn and Chee Series

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"He makes the desert come, alive." -- -- Denver Post

"Hillerman . . . is in a class by himself." -- -- Los Angeles Times

"Hillerman deserves to be included in any list of the best living mystery writers." -- -- Dallas Morning News

"Hillerman gets better with every book." -- -- San Francisco Chronicle

"Hillerman is an expert puzzle-maker." -- -- The Atlantic

"Hillerman is surely one of the finest and most original craftsmen at work in the genre today." -- -- The Boston Globe

"Hillerman's mysteries are unique in American crime fiction." -- -- Los Angeles Times

"Readers who have not discovered Hillerman should not waste one minute more." -- -- Oklahoma City Oklahoman

"The only mysteries I read are Hillerman's." -- -- Ursula K. Le Guin

"This series of Southwestern mysteries from Tony Hillerman is superb." -- -- Daily News

"Whatever your pleasure, you can't go wrong with this gifted, skillful and . . . unique writer." -- -- San Diego Union --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

  • Series: Jim Chee (Book 1)
  • Mass Market Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; Reprint edition (2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061808393
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061808395
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.8 x 7.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (167 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #109,916 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Sheila L. Beaumont on June 14, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
The title refers to the members of an underground Native American Church peyote cult whose totem is the mole, "the predator of the nadir." The mystery involves the attempted murder of a dying man, the disappearance of his corpse from the hospital morgue, a uranium mine, a fatal oil-well explosion 30 years earlier, and the theft of a keepsake box filled mostly with black rocks. This novel has the distinction of featuring the scariest, most chilling villain of the series: an emotionless, psychopathic, methodical killer for hire who leaves nothing to chance. The suspense builds as the point of view alternates between the killer's and Navajo policeman Jim Chee's. "People of Darkness" is one of the best in a literate and very entertaining Southwestern series. For other well-written American Indian-related mysteries, try James D. Doss' Shaman series and Margaret Coel's Arapaho series.
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By A Customer on October 6, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
To me, this is is Hillerman's second-best mystery (after "Dance Hall of the Dead"). Introducing a new detective seems to have sparked his creativity, and his cast of characters is one of the best he ever created (although he seems to have recycled some of them in later books). His hired killer is a psycho but still sympathetic, the fragile blond schoolteacher is tougher than she looks, and even the minor characters (such as the lab technician in the first scene) are well done. Jim Chee is a complex, interesting personality from the very beginning. As usual, the various settings in which the story takes place are vividly described. And "how he done it" involves, in my opinion, one of the cleverest murder weapons in the history of the detective novel. This is a winner all the way through.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is the fourth book in Tony Hillerman's masterpiece "Navajo Detectives" series and one of the best of the whole series. In the first three books Lt. Joe Leaphorn is the main character. "People of Darkness" introduces Sgt. Jim Chee, a younger and more complex man who is torn between the white man's world - and a career in the FBI - and the Navajo way as a "singer" or shaman. Also introduced in this book is an appealing, peaches-and-cream Wisconsin girl, Mary Landon, as a mild love interest for Chee.
A bomb goes off in a hospital parking lot, apparently aimed at killing a man who is already dying of cancer, a box containing little of apparent value disappears from a rich man's house, and an oil well explosion thirty years back has some connection to these events. This is vintage Hillerman: a story than ranges over vast areas of time and space. The villain in "People of Darkness" is one of Hillerman's best: a cold professional with the vulnerability of a battered child.
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 magnificent, but also menacing. In this exotic setting, the supernatural seems almost possible and little chilly fingers tickle your spine. If you are an 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
Lt. Joe Leaphorn was author Tony Hillerman's first detective, created for the 1970 novel THE BLESSING WAY. He was a truly original figure: a Navajo employed as a law enforcement officer on Native American lands in the Southwest and a man with both a deep respect and understanding of the ways of his people. The character Jim Chee does not differ greatly from this mold--but he does have one significant advantage. By the time Jim Chee appeared in this 1982 work, Tony Hillerman had learned how to create a tightly woven novel, something that was not always the case in the early Joe Leaphorn books.

THE PEOPLE OF DARKNESS introduces Jim Chee, a young reservation law enforcement officer who struggles to find balance between the traditional ways of the Navajo and the cultural incursions of the white man. In this particular novel, Chee is summoned by a wealthy woman to investigate a theft; the circumstances are, however, extremely unusual--and as he slowly peels through the various layers of deception Chee finds himself tracking members of a cult-like religion with ties to a tragic accident more than three decades in the past.

This is one of the better Hillerman novels. As always, the author is extremely respectful of native American tradition, and he paints a fascinating portrait of traditional beliefs and patterns of behavior. Unlike such novels as THE BLESSING WAY and LISTENING WOMAN, the plot is tightly constructed and winds back upon itself in such a way that one can honestly consider it a mystery novel--something that cannot always be said for a Hillerman work. Well written, PEOPLE OF DARKNESS is a fast and entertaining read. Recommended.

GFT, Amazon Reviewer
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By A Customer on October 28, 1998
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The book is a story of a murder. The story is about a policeman, Jim Chee,who is Navajo and shows the reader into the life on the Navajo reservation. It is a great book which keeps you reading not only to find out about the mystery but to understand Jim Chee's views on the world of the Navajo and the world of the White Man.
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