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review 2019-07-16 00:00
The Fly on the Wall (Audio)
The Fly on the Wall (Audio) - Tony Hillerman,Erik Bergmann I've never "read" an audio book before. I was going to a handbell festival several hours away, and figured I could "read" this book while I was driving there and back. Unfortunately, I only got about 2/3rds through by the time I got back. So, I had to finish up by lying idly on the deck with ear buds in my ears.

One problem, I've discovered with audio books is you miss stuff, and can't really go back to check. So there were things that made no sense, probably because I'd missed something earlier in the lead up.

For example, I don't really know where this book took place. Something in the beginning said something about a gritty midwestern city of 400,000 or so people. But much of the activity took place in the capitol building, which I inferred to be located in the capital city of the state in question. Well, the word Santa Fe showed up early, and that's the capital of New Mexico, but Santa Fe isn't even 100,000 people in size. Neither is New Mexico midwestern by my reckoning. For a while I thought Albuquerque, which is the proper size, but which is not the capital. So, perhaps we're in Arizona, where the capital is Phoenix? But Phoenix is certainly not midwestern. Also, it's population in 1971, when this book came out was close to 600,000. So, I've no idea. Then too, if I remember correctly, the main character flew from whatever city was involved to Santa Fe, but somehow went through O'Hare, which is the airport associated with Chicago. How does that make sense? A final confusion is that the person who wrote the book blurb on GoodReads said the action took place at the nation's capitol building, which is in Washington, D.C., a city that is neither midwestern, nor does it have a mere population of 400,000. The U.S. Capitol really makes no sense because the whole plot is about state politics, but what state? where?

So, I might have missed something, or perhaps Hillerman was intentionally confusing things...to protect the suspects...or something. Adding to the confusion, of course, is that Hillerman is best known for his works about the Navajo policemen, Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee. The Navajo reservation is primarily in the four-corners region of Arizona, although bits of it extend into Utah and New Mexico. Anyway, I got confused quickly.

Ok, on to the story, which was sort of interesting. We have John Cotton, a journalist who covers state politics. He's working at night when another journalist, Merrill McDaniels, wanders into the press room totally blotto. But Mac does tell Cotton that he has rather a large scoop to publish which will set the state political machine on their butt. Some time after McDaniels leaves the press room, Cotton hears a loud noise and upon investigation discovers that McDaniels is lying 5 floors below him, splattered on the floor of the capitol rotunda. Just an accident?

Well, another journalist borrows Cotton's car and is run off a bridge and into a river. Just an accident, or was someone gunning for Cotton? In the interim, Cotton had garnered McDaniels' note book and was starting to check some leads. So, he was beginning to unravel a story of corruption in the highway department and several other branches of the state government.

Then, Cotton gets a death threat and decides to flee. He goes fishing in the mountains above Santa Fe, but discovers someone with a high-power rifle hunting for him.

Well, things go on. Eventually Cotton gets it all figured out, and there is a big shake up in state government, and Cotton may or may not find a way to snuggle up to Janie Janovsky, on whom he's been sweet since high school (I think that's the case, but as I said, one can't check things out in an audio book).

Well, sorry to write such an incoherent review, but I think that might be the norm with audio books. They sort of pass through, and whether or not one actually understands all that much appears to be a feature rather than a bug. But, all said, it's an ok way to while away the time on a long drive to and from Hartford.
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review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-12-28 18:36
Slow Burning; Leaves You Questioning
Dance Hall of the Dead - Tony Hillerman

I liked that this mystery had to be solved in a certain span of time or else it would turn out to be deadly. A lot of police cases do have to be solved quickly, and to me, this was realistic. I also liked that this was not a classic case of the mystery being solved in time, because that to me is so cliche as to be a cardinal sin of writing.


The story took me a long time to read because there wasn't as much of a sense of urgency as I should like in my mystery novels. I want to be held deeply in the grips of the mystery, wanting to know and question everything. It's a bit of a disappointment, really, as the last Hillerman I read did just that.


Despite the story lacking the sense of urgency, I liked that the facts of the mystery were broken down in the end, and the perpetrator not only got his just desserts for the murders he committed, but also blacklisted from his profession as an archaeologist. That to me rings true as an archaeological technician because even getting artifacts from questionable sources is enough to get you blacklisted from the American Archaeological Association.


One thing I didn't find so realistic is, the connection between the Zuni and the Navajo tribes. I know there's a lot of animosity between most of the Pueblo tribes, including the Hopi and Tewa people, but I'm not sure about the Navajo. I didn't see much of the lack of friendliness I would have expected from the Zuni as a result, but I know Hillerman did his research, so I could very well be wrong, in this estimation.

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review 2017-04-17 18:20
Well Written and Well Researched, Although a Few Things Bothered Me
The Blessing Way - Tony Hillerman

I was recommended to read this series from a gentleman while I was visiting the Museum of Northern Arizona in Flagstaff during my archaeological field school. I wish I'd gotten the guy's name, because I would love to thank him for introducing me to this series.


One reason I never read books about Native Americans written by a white person is the fact that it is really easy to screw up important details about the overall culture. Hillerman clearly spent a lot of time on the Diné reservation, and also appears to have mostly done oral research. I say this because some of the spellings for Diné Bisaad words are a little funky. The word that struck me as being particularly odd is the word "Diné" itself; in this book, the word is spelled "Dinee," a spelling which I have never seen in any other publication. 


While the plot itself dragged in some places, the overall story was highly engaging and interesting. I highly recommend people read this book and hope it encourages people to visit Native American reservations and learn more about the beautiful cultures that may soon be lost due to hegemonic influences.

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text 2016-08-15 16:31
The Blessing Way by Tony Hillerman 99 cents
The Blessing Way - Tony Hillerman

Homicide is always an abomination, but there is something exceptionally disturbing about the victim discovered in a high lonely place, a corpse with a mouth full of sand, abandoned at a crime scene seemingly devoid of tracks or useful clues. Though it goes against his better judgment, Navajo Tribal Police Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn cannot help but suspect the hand of a supernatural killer. There is palpable evil in the air, and Leaphorn's pursuit of a Wolf-Witch is leading him where even the bravest men fear, on a chilling trail that winds perilously between mysticism and murder.

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review 2016-04-12 00:00
The Blessing Way
The Blessing Way - Tony Hillerman Follow Joe Leaphorn and Bergen McKee as they work their way through mystery, death and intrigue. When a wanted man turns up dead with no evidence as to how he died, Leaphorn is disturbed. With more and more reports of a ghost, or a Wolf Man raiding the cattle, rumors begin to fly and the case becomes harder and harder to solve. While Leaphorn is trying to solve that, McKee is trying to unravel the origins of some of the witch stories that have been on the reservation for a while. Needing more case studies, he does his best, but when he is pulled into the middle of the investigation without knowing it, he might just uncover his best lead yet...

This book will not leave you disappointed, and has you hooked from the beginning. It has been described as slow in places, but the webs that are being woven throughout the book deserve a closer look and a chance. I have loved these books for a long time, and being able to sit back and read slowly, I was able to pick up on things that I have missed previously.

Great read! Definitely recommend it as a MUST READ!
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