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I noticed the obituaries of Tony Hillerman in the papers earlier this year, and was intrigued by the descriptions of his work. I'd never heard of him, but I like crime books, especially ones that aren't too gruesome, and have visited the western US a few times - not Arizona, where this is set, but it's similar enough landscape to Utah and Colorado for me to be able to imagine it. Not that you'd need to have been there to enjoy it - he does a terrific job of making you feel like you're right there.
The book has an excellent plot that keeps you guessing until quite near the end, and Joe Leaphorn, the detective, is an intriguing character who manages to be compelling even though he reveals virtually nothing about himself.
The descriptions of Zuni ritual and customs are engaging and never degenerate into travelogue or local colour. I'm no expert on lit-crit so when I realised the book was essentially about the nature of taboo (and not just of the Zunis) I realised what a clever writer Hillerman is, to take a big topic like that and yet not make it over-dramatic.
As a book, it's ideal for audio listening as it's written day by day so divides into short sections which are easy to listen to without getting lost. It's been skilfully abridged and there's none of that 'whoops, there goes another carefully crafted sub-plot' feeling that you sometimes get with abridgements. The actor who reads it, Michael Ansara, is excellent, giving just the right laconic delivery for Leaphorn.
All in all, I really enjoyed it and it's a shame that none of Hillerman's other titles are available on Audible (and if they are offered, it would be nice to have a choice of some unabridged versions too).
If you like old-fashioned crime, Westerns, or books by Kinky Friedman, you will definitely enjoy this.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful
Tony Hillerman writes the kind of story I enjoy--sympathetic, thoughtful stories with characters that you can enjoy getting to know. I have read all his fiction and would love to see more of them on audiobooks. In addition to a good read or listen for the story itself, Tony Hillerman opens up a world few people get to see--a genuine insight into contemporary Native American cultures in the southwest of the United States.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
The problem with an abridged book is that it lacks the depth that a good author can give in a full length treatment. That was clearly the case here. Other than that, it was a pleasant experience.
Why no other books by Hillerman at Audible.com?
55 of 56 people found this review helpful
Always enjoy these books - just wish they were longer.
6 of 6 people found this review helpful