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Comments for Hunting Badger

Hunting Badger: 06/14/14

cover art

Hunting Badger by Tony Hillerman is the 14th of the original Navajo Mystery series. It opens with a long introduction about the inspiration behind the book and acknowledgments to the agencies and people who helped take those events and turn them into a mystery for Jim Chee, Bernie Manuelito, and to a lesser degree Ret. Lt. Joe Leaphorn to solve.

After a robbery and shooting at a Ute Casino, Joe Leaphorn is given a list of names by a man who wants to stay out of things but is being threatened by the men he claims did the crime. His poking around, mostly through listening to local gossip, leads Leaphorn to an apparent suicide with a note typed out on a computer. And that's what brings in the Navajo Tribal Police.

As with the first crime in 1997, the suspected casino robbers are believed to have escaped into the numerous canyons and washes near an old mining site. Chee suspects there's an easier way in and out of the area. Leaphorn suspects the answer to the riddle is locked up in decades old gossip and elder stories.

Hunting Badger draws a lot of its tension from the differences between Utes and the Diné, including long standing distrust and racism. The worst of the feelings may have thawed somewhat in the younger generations but not among Leaphorn's.

Five stars

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