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Crime Fiction Book Chat - Fri 26th May 1pm

The Works of Tony Hillerman

BOOK GROUP: FRIDAY May 26th 1pm The Works of Tony Hillerman

The Navaho are a group of Indigenous people of the New Mexico region of the USA. The works of Tony Hillerman are crime fiction novels based in the area with Navaho characters central to the works. These characters are both originally from the older ways of living yet are both educated in American universities in Anthropology.

The works present the Indians in a sympathetic and realistic light. One feature of the stories is the romantic interests of the central characters Leaphorn and Chee. The books inform the reader on ethnographic details on societies from the region. The belief systems of the Navaho or Hopi Indian festivals for example. One novel explains how Lincoln sent canes to the Pueblo Indians to maintain their neutrality in the Civil War.

The books also have a strong crime-based narrative with murder and mysterious disappearances in the unique terrain of this region of North America. There are eighteen books in the series the first in 1970 the last 2005.

The last book I have read in the series of these books is "Hunting Badger". Based somewhat on a true story it covers event in late 1990s where group of individuals rob an Indian casino and disappear in the wilderness with FBI et al on their tail. False leads around a stolen aircraft are contrasted with Ute Indian stories of raids by the Ute on Navahos in past century and the routes used for the raids.

The stories of elderly Ute about these raids and how the raiding parties avoided detection allow the main characters to work out what really going on and score some points on their rivals in the FBI which as one-character comments does not stand for “full blooded Indian”!

The Footscray Mechanics Library (FMI) has four of the novels in the collection. Well worth a read. NF

The FMI will hold one of its occasional book chats on these books on Friday 26th May at 1pm. FREE. No bookings necessary. Drop on by if you have the time.

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