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Dance Hall of the Dead: 04/06/08
I was introduced to Tony Hillerman's books in college. I read the one I was assigned Talking God (1989) and then a couple others on my own for fun. Then around the time I got married, I got distracted with other books and forgot about Hillerman's books even though I had been enjoying them. Now I'm back to reading them.
Dance Hall of the Dead is the second in the series and feels a little dated (with the reference to the hippy commune) but is still an interesting mystery. Sgt. Joe Leaphorn has to track down a missing Navajo boy, George Bowlegs, after his Zuñi friend Ernesto Cata has been found murdered.
Leaphorn is racing against time because of the elements: an approaching winter storm, the general harshness of the high dessert and because of the hostility of the different groups involved: the hippy commune, Bowlegs's broken family, an archeological dig, the school, and the Zuñi. While Leaphorn is tracking Bowlegs, someone is tracking him. Can he get to Bowlegs before the murderer does?
Hillerman does an excellent job of depicting the lands and cultures of the Navajo and Zuñi. His terse descriptions manage to involve all the senses without bogging down the story with useless filler.
The entire series of books is as follows: