To Officer Bernadette Manuelito, the man curled up on the truck seat was just another drunk—which got Bernie in trouble for mishandling a crime scene—which got Sergeant Jim Chee in trouble with the FBI—which drew Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn out of retirement and back into the old "Golden Calf" homicide, a case he had hoped to forget.
Nothing had seemed complicated about that earlier one. A con game had gone sour. A swindler had tried to sell wealthy old Wiley Denton the location of one of the West's multitude of legendary lost gold mines. Denton had shot the swindler, called the police, confessed the homicide, and done his short prison time. No mystery there.
Except why did the rich man's bride vanish? The cynics said she was part of the swindle plot. She'd fled when it failed. But, alas, old Joe Leaphorn was a romantic. He believed in love, and thus the Golden Calf case still troubled him. Now, papers found in this new homicide case connect the victim to Denton and to the mythical Golden Calf Mine. The first Golden Calf victim had been there just hours before Denton killed him. And while Denton was killing him, four children trespassing among the rows of empty bunkers in the long-abandoned Wingate Ordnance Depot called in an odd report to the police. They had heard, in the wind wailing around the old buildings, what sounded like music and the cries of a woman.
Bernie Manuelito uses her knowledge of Navajo country, its tribal traditions, and her friendship with a famous old medicine man to unravel the first knot of this puzzle, with Jim Chee putting aside his distaste of the FBI to help her. But the questions raised by this second Golden Calf murder aren't answered until Leaphorn solves the puzzle left by the first one and discovers what the young trespassers heard in the wailing wind.
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. (On sale May 7)
Customer ReviewsSee All
Ok cannot guess the ending until the end but then wonder how you missed the clues. Very entertaining.