The First Eagle by Tony Hillerman

Bestselling and award-winning author Tony Hillerman brings to life the Southwest and the Navajo culture in his mystery series featuring Jim Chee and Joe Leaphorn.

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The First Eagle by Tony Hillerman


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It seems like July 8 is going to be a bad day for Acting Lieutenant Jim Chee. He's got a stack of overdue paperwork on his desk. Anderson Nez has died of plague, but the circumstances around the death are murky. His ex-fiancée, Janet Pete, is returning from Washington, D.C., and Chee doesn't know what to think about her last letter. (Will they be getting married this time?) And Officer Benny Kinsman's unwanted advances have enraged Catherine Pollard (among others), one of the scientists studying this newest outbreak of the black death. Now, the hot-headed Kinsman's gone off to nab a Hopi man who's poaching eagles. When Chee is called to back Kinsman up at Yells Back Butte, the bad day turns worse. He finds the young Hopi, Robert Jano, standing over Benny's mortally wounded body. Jano insists that he did not kill the police officer. Add to all this Joe Leaphorn's separate investigation, also involving July 8. Joe's got a new role as consulting detective to the wealthy--investigating the July 8 disappearance at Yells Back Butte of the same Catherine Pollard who was dogged by Kinsman.

This one bad day and the ensuing days of investigation bring Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee together once again as they uncover the secret of Yells Back Butte, plague fleas, and skinwalkers. As usual, Hilllerman's ear for dialogue is remarkable. One does not read Leaphorn and Chee's words and thoughts as much as hear them. While the book invites new readers (little knowledge of the previous books in the series is presumed), one has the sense of entering an old neighborhood where friends and relations are established and emotions run deep. Jim Chee's pain is vivid as he struggles under the shadow of Leaphorn and questions the "rusty trailer" lifestyle that has driven him apart from Janet. Nothing is contrived in his mixture of fear and elation when he and Janet meet again.

Hillerman has written an engaging novel that once again evokes the land and people of the Southwest while also confronting the cultural separateness of the region from the power centers of the East. Already honored for his previous work (Dance Hall of the Dead received the Edgar), The First Eagle is a welcome addition to the beloved Chee-Leaphorn series that began in 1971 with The Blessing Way. --Patrick O'Kelley --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.



Reader Reviews
More of the Chee/Leaphorn duo, September 23, 2003 Reviewer: Peggy Vincent from Oakland, CA This pair is a little like Batman and Robin, except Leaphorn is a lot smarter than Batman (and waaaay older), and Chee is not nearly as ingenuous as Robin. But still. It's the older guy as prickly friend and wise mentor to the younger upstart. Chee is now a Lieutenant in The First Eagle, and Leaphorn, whose wife has died, is retired and trying the role of PI on for size. Chee has got a murder to solve, and Leaphorn's working on a missing person case; the two cases merge on Yells Back Butte while, on the side, we have hantavirus rearing its ugly head. Good Hillerman stuff. Not the best, but really, just good stuff.

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