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Month in review

Reviews
ABC Book by CB Falls
Also Known as Rowan Pohi by Ralph Fletcher
Annie on my Mind by Nancy Garden
Blackout by Connie Willis
The Blessing Way (audio) by Tony Hillerman
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr and John Archambault
Comets, Stars, the Moon and Mars by Douglas Florian
Dying for Chocolate (audio) by Diane Mott Davidson
From a Changeling Star by Jeffrey A. Carver
Gemini Bites by Patrick Ryan
If Rocks Could Sing by Leslie McGuirk
Imagine a Night by Sarah L. Thomson and Rob Gonsalves
Introduction to Joyous Cooking 200th Anniversary Edition by Heather Lindsey
Keeping You a Secret by Julie Anne Peters
The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan
Mark Tidd in the Backwoods by Clarence Budington Kelland
Mio, My Son by Astrid Lindgren
Monkey Food by Ellen Forney
The Monster Princess by DJ MacHale
Navajo ABC by Lucy Tapahonso
The Night Fairy by Laura Amy Schlitz
One Boy by Laura Vaccaro Seeger
Perfect Square by Michael Hall
The Road to Oz by Kathleen Krull
Snowmen at Night by Caralyn Buehner
Thirteen by Remy Charlip
Tips on Having a Gay (Ex) Boyfriend by Carrie Jones
Twin Spica 05 by Kou Yaginuma
The Window of Time by Richard Matheson
The Z Was Zapped by Chris Van Allsburg

Other Stuff
Canadian Book Challenge 6
Twenty-Five Years of Reading

Previous month

Rating System

5 stars: Completely enjoyable or compelling
4 stars: Good but flawed
3 stars: Average
2 stars: OK
1 star: Did not finish

Reading Challenges

My Kind of Mystery Reading Challenge 2017 February - January 2017-8



The Blessing Way: 06/12/12

cover art

I have been collecting the Navajo Mysteries by Tony Hillerman since I first read Talking God in college. The early Hillerman books contain a lot ethnographic observations on Diné culture and language. So much, so, that they were used as required reading for a non-western art class I took as a freshman.

Although the books stand by themselves and can be read out of order, I've decided to go back and read the series in order, filling in the ones I've missed.

The series opened with The Blessing Way, published in 1970. The cold war is still going strong, so is the Vietnam War. There are no cellphones, making the quarter million miles of wilderness that is the Navajo Nation a very remote location even though it sits within Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and Colorado.

For fans of the later books, the older cop, younger cop dynamic is missing. There's no Jim Chee to get under Joe Leaphorn's skin. Instead, there's what I can guess is an attempt at an authorial insert in the form of a belagaana professor who specializes in Navajo culture. He gives an expert but decidedly outsider's observations.

The problem though, is Dr. Bergen McKee, as an outsider doesn't have the same motivations to solve the murder as Joe Leaphorn does. And although he may know some of the different Sings, he's not actually studying them to perform them as Jim Chee tries in Talking God.

But the grains of what will be in later novels is here. There are thoughts on Navajo beliefs and motivations and questions about what would make someone break from form. Differences in Navajo subcultures are discussed but not fleshed out as they will be in later books.

Despite the discrepancies, some very dated material, as well as a somewhat clunkier writing style, I still enjoyed the book. I listened to an audio version performed by George Guidall. He had the perfect voice for the mystery and brought all the characters to life. I enjoyed his work so much I plan to listen to book three, Listening Woman, on CD as well.

Five stars

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