A New York Times Bestseller
Anne Hillerman brings together modern mystery, Navajo traditions, and the evocative landscape of the desert Southwest in this intriguing entry in the Leaphorn, Chee, and Manuelito series.
When Tribal Police Officer Bernadette Manuelito arrives to speak at an outdoor character-building program for at-risk teens, she discovers chaos. Annie, a young participant on a solo experience due back hours before, has just returned and is traumatized. Gently questioning the girl, Bernie learns that Annie stumbled upon a human skeleton on her trek. While everyone is relieved that Annie is back, they’re concerned about a beloved instructor who went out into the wilds of the rugged lava wilderness bordering Ramah Navajo Reservation to find the missing girl. The instructor vanished somewhere in the volcanic landscape known as El Malpais. In Navajo lore, the lava caves and tubes are believed to be the solidified blood of a terrible monster killed by superhuman twin warriors.
Solving the twin mysteries will expose Bernie to the chilling face of human evil. The instructor’s disappearance mirrors a long-ago search that may be connected to a case in which the legendary Joe Leaphorn played a crucial role. But before Bernie can find the truth, an unexpected blizzard, a suspicious accidental drowning, and the arrival of a new FBI agent complicate the investigation.
While Bernie searches for answers in her case, her husband, Sergeant Jim Chee juggles trouble closer to home. A vengeful man he sent to prison for domestic violence is back—and involved with Bernie’s sister Darleen. Their relationship creates a dilemma that puts Chee in uncomfortable emotional territory that challenges him as family man, a police officer, and as a one-time medicine man in training.
Anne Hillerman takes us deep into the heart of the deserts, mountains, and forests of New Mexico and once again explores the lore and rituals of Navajo culture in this gripping entry in her atmospheric crime series.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
This entertaining, well-paced whodunit is also a searing exploration of the threats modernity poses to the lores and rituals of Navajo culture. Tribal police officer Bernadette Manuelito investigates two increasingly complex and haunting mysteries. Her journey is mapped out with Anne Hillerman’s dynamic, gloriously economical prose, which pushes the many twists and turns toward a deeply satisfying ending. The book’s setting is another star: Hillerman paints the vivid, volcanic landscapes of the southwestern U.S. with an immediacy and depth that makes you feel you're actually there.
Bestseller Hillerman's meandering fourth mystery set in New Mexico (after 2017's Song of the Lion) takes Navajo police officer Bernadette "Bernie" Manuelito into El Malpais, the badlands where Rose Cooper, the director of a program for troubled teenage girls, runs a campsite. When Annie Rainsong, one of the campers, goes missing, Domingo "Dom" Cruz, the assistant program director, goes looking for her. Annie returns safe, if a little scared, with a tale of finding a cave of bones. When Dom fails to return, the police send out a search party. Dom's disappearance may be linked to a long-ago case handled by former police officer Joe Leaphorn. Bernie soon gets caught up in a case of grave robbing and stolen artifacts related to the cave find. Meanwhile, Sgt. Jim Chee, Bernie's husband, who's in Santa Fe for training, checks up on her younger sister, Darleen, who's in school there and hanging out with the wrong people. Diffuse plotting makes this a weak series entry, though Hillerman's use of the harsh but beautiful landscape and details of Navajo life is as strong as ever.
A visit to Navajo land in winter adds to the richness of the mystery
A lot of clever interpersonal drama. It added to the richness of the story having it take place in winter and in the end a snow storm became a plot element. I don't recall that Tony Hillerman ever branched out to botany in any of the books he wrote so adding that in this story is a new dimension.
Interesting that Anne Hillerman would name the young woman who plays a central role in the story after herself.
Drags on & on
Halfway through & not interested enough to continue. Pacing of book is too slow, takes way too long for main characters to get to the point.
Caves of Bones