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The Wailing Wind Hardcover – May 7, 2002

4.3 out of 5 stars 182 customer reviews
Book 15 of 20 in the Leaphorn and Chee Series

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

A lost gold mine, a corpse in an abandoned pickup truck, and an eerie wailing heard on Halloween are among the delicious plot elements Tony Hillerman cooks up in his 15th novel featuring Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee. The two Navajo cops, one old and one young--who originally debuted in separate series but have been collaborating for many books now--are among the most engaging, fully human characters in crime fiction. As usual, Hillerman puts them to work in a suspenseful, satisfying tale that integrates a wealth of Navajo lore plus breathtaking evocations of the American Southwest, all delivered in prose as clear, clean, and easy-flowing as a mountain stream. Longtime readers will be delighted by several developments, including a prominent role for the appealing Officer Bernadette Manuelito and a glimpse at the phlegmatic Leaphorn's testy side. But Hillerman welcomes new arrivals as well, with enough exposition to get you oriented.

Many writers have tried to follow Hillerman's trail, setting murder mysteries in Native American cultural landscapes. Many do a fine job. But, as The Wailing Wind beautifully demonstrates, there's only one Tony Hillerman. In this book he's at the top of his game. --Nicholas H. Allison

From Publishers Weekly

The 15th Chee/Leaphorn mystery (after 1999's relatively weak Hunting Badger) finds MWA Grand Master Hillerman back at the top of his form as his two Navajo peace officers look into both a past and present mystery. Religious fervency and single-minded greed become strange but necessary bedfellows in a plot filled, as always, with insights into the lives and beliefs of the "Dineh." When an abandoned pickup truck turns out to contain one very dead white man, Sgt. Jim Chee's instincts lead him to bring retired Lt. Joe Leaphorn into the case. Leaphorn's trademark curiosity sends him in search of possible links between this homicide and another two years earlier. The first murder occurred on Halloween day when Wiley Denton supposedly shot Marvin McKay in self-defense after McKay tried to sell him bogus information about an old gold mine. That same day Denton's wife, Linda, disappeared; she has never been heard from again. Leaphorn's recollection of what had been shrugged off as a Halloween prank out at old Fort Wingate now becomes the itch he has to scratch. It seems a group of teens shortcutting across the area had endured a close call with La Llorana, a mythical wailing woman. The information he gathers adds yet another piece to the puzzle of the missing Linda. Chee is up to his elbows in not only the investigation but also in sorting through his growing emotional confusion about the beautiful Bernadette Manuelito. The seemingly insignificant turns critical and the loose ends tie up in one tidy conclusion as Hillerman repeatedly shines in this masterfully complex new novel.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 232 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; 1st edition (May 7, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060194448
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060194444
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (182 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #430,597 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Hardcover
Tony Hillerman finds his stride again after the stumbling in <i>Hunting Badger</i>. A mystery that entangles lost gold mines, wailing ghosts, Navajo sacred places, infidelity and confidence games, <i>The Wailing WInd</i> brings Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee together again. Leaphorn is retired but insatiably curious about a murder and disappearance that seem to be linked to a new killing. Chee and his new (and let us hope permanent) love interest, Officer Bernadette Manuelito, sift through the clues to find a killer and, incidentally, a basis for their own relationship.
The novel is fast and fun. Hillerman includes his tradmark ethnic insights, such as the hilarious scene when Jim and Bernie stumble into an interview between a Navajo singer and the FBI agent in charge. Chee weaves his own simultaneous interview of the medicine man into the fabric of the "technical assistance" he is providing to the FBI's inept translator.
If the last few pages get a bit blurry about motivations and character, that is a quibble no more germane than complaining about the meandering pace of a sweet old uncle who is a great storyteller. The twists and turns of the plot are a pleasure, anticipated or not.
Non-fans may not enjoy this one. If you haven't read any of the Chee or Leaphorn books, read <I>Skinwalkers</I> and <I>A Thief of Time</I>, to get a sense of the context and power of the series. (And do not miss the PBS Mystery Theatre dramatization of <I>Skinwalkers</I> this fall.)
Hillerman fans will cheer for Bernie Manuelito, chuckle over Joe's discreet intimacy with his "friend" Louise Bourbonette, and enjoy this new visit to a place--imaginary or not--where Anglo and Indian co-exist in harmony if not without conflict, the best of both races operating with mutual respect, and a crowd of people, men and women, we have learned to admire, respect, and love.
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By A Customer on May 16, 2002
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Tony Hillerman's new mystery, "The Wailing Wind" is like an old friend in that its the 15th novel set on the Navajo Reservation and includes Jim Chee and Joe Leaphorn. Like all his previous books, I enjoyed reading this one as soon as it was published.
However, I felt that the storyline was a bit flat and the main characters seemed one-dimensional in this particular book. The new characters for this story were barely developed. The plot was transparent and didn't have much of a "mystery"
I just felt that something was missing. Kind of like looking at the map of Navajo Land that is printed inside the cover. A careful look reveals that Crownpoint is missing.
Was it worth the money? Yes, any Tony Hillerman story is worth both my money and my time but this one is less than average, based on my reading the entire series.
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Format: Hardcover
It is one of those accidents of a reviewer's fate that both of the mysteries I just finished reading turn on events in the past, rather than current mysteries. Each deals with this differently (the other was Laurie King's "Justice Hall"), but the reader knows from the beginning that it is the unfolding of a past tragedy that holds the keys to a puzzle taking place in the present. In Hillerman's tale, the past is recovered in fragmentary moments until it becomes a grim intruder in the present.
In the present, Officer Bernadette Manuelito finds a man curled up dead on a truck seat in the desert. Mistakenly assuming it was an accidental drunken death she inadvertently mishandles what turns out to be a crime scene and finds herself in trouble. And so, Sgt. Jim Chee and Lt. Joe Leaphorn enter the case partly to help Bernadette, and partly to carry out agendas of their own. Chee because he dislikes the FBI and likes Bernadette, and Leaphorn because evidence in this case reminds him of another one where Wiley Denton killed a swindler, and Wiley's wife vanished without a trace.
There is a Navaho legend of a Wailing Woman seeking in the desert for a lost child. Years ago, when Denton made his kill in self-defense, several students heard a woman's cries out in the nearly deserted bunkers of Fort Wingate. But it was Halloween, and the police filed the report away, more interested in the killing they could see. Years later Leaphorn is still haunted by that story and has never stopped wondering where Mrs. Linda Denton had gone.
The three investigators pursue the case separately and together, until the threads begin to point to a set of conclusions that will both surprise and please the reader.
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Format: Hardcover
Reading Tony Hillerman's latest Leaphorn/Chee mystery is like sitting around a campfire with old friends. It's wonderful to catch up on each other's lives, share a few chuckes, and recall why you enjoy being together. But it's not the best way to meet new people.
Hillerman's books have always been more about Navajo lore and the vanishing-point vistas of a lightly populated land than about solving crimes. In the process, we've come to really care about Leaphorn and Chee, and the people and places that define their lives. This book has the feel of being the penultimate in the series--not quite the end, but close to it. The real question isn't who killed the gold miner whose body is discovered in the opening chapter; it's whether Chee will ever be truly happy, and whether Leaphorn will settle gracefully into retirement. Nor does Hillerman really have anything new to say about the Navajos; he's said it beautifully in more than a dozen prior books.
If you already love Leaphorn and Chee and the Southwest, you don't need my urging to read this book. If you're new to Hillerman, start with an earlier book in the series. Then come back for a nice campfire chat with your new, old friends.
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