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Stargazer: 07/15/21

Stargazer by Anne Hillerman

Stargazer by Anne Hillerman is the twenty-fourth book in the Navajo mysteries. The series is now fifty-one years old, and in its eighth year of being written by the original author's daughter.

A radio astronomer has moved to New Mexico to reconnect with his estranged wife who is Dinéh and moved home from Hawaii years ago. He wants to reconcile. She wants a divorce. There's a gun in the car. The next morning a young boy finds the man dead in his car, the gun sitting on his lap. Soon after, the wife is confessing to Jim Chee.

As it turns off Bernadette Mañuelito knows the woman who has confessed. They had gone to college together. She doesn't believe her murder confession. Her tenacity helps to open up the investigation.

The novel features the VLA in Socorro, New Mexico. It's a place I last visited in The Someday Birds by Sally J. Pla (2017). It's also featured in Contact by Carl Sagan (1985).

In previous mysteries in this series, when there's an A plot and a B plot the two end up being interconnected and more closely related than Leaphorn, Chee, or Mañuelito first think. Stargazer has two mysteries, one with a gratuitously long dead baby, that has little to do with the astronomer's death. The plot with Bee and the baby serves to put Mañuelito in the right place to be involved with the murder investigation and later as a foil, preventing her complete attention to the murder investigation.

Since the two mysteries aren't connected, I found the one with Bee a distraction which is a shame. Bee is a fictional stand in for the numerous indigenous women around the world who are abused, sex-trafficked, missing, or murdered every year.

Four stars

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