skeleton man

Two times I’ve tried to write a review of this book, and two times the browser crashed before anything was saved. The first time, the cat stepped on the “off” button on my laptop. The second time, clicking a link in just closed everything. I don’t know why. But I don’t, right now, have the energy to write the complete review yet again. It’s like there’s a ghost or something. Weird.

Tony Hillerman’s latest book, Skeleton Man (SM), was half good, half disappointing. Starts out great, unravels. Loose threads: so what IS that figure on the pouch? Who was that old Indian?

I love Hillerman’s Navajo novels. I love it when legend and lore and investigation are combined with thinking things through and solving a case—as most of his novels do. This is not one of those. It’s like he was pushed to finish the book just to get it out rather than taking his time to get it written properly. Leaphorn disappears. Bernie Manuelito is kind of forced into becoming the lead character, but not because of her police skills. The ending is implausible. A character appears out of nowhere, in one instance, and wrecks it. This book is more in the Perils of Pauline genre than a mystery/detective novel, that’s for sure. Anybody could’ve been in it.

Will I buy Hillerman’s next Leaphorn/Chee novel? In a heartbeat—I have hope that he’ll return to his usual standards. But SM, and Sinister Pig from last year, are not among Hillerman’s best. I think what happened is Hillerman lost his touch for providing a sense of place in these last two novels—and that’s what I cared about, rather than the story itself. Hillerman used to be able to write so that I felt I was there, that I was lost in the story and seeing the landscape. But not these last two.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 12/11/04 at 02:57 PM
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