Today is my first post in English … Let’s try!
As I said in my last post, I became a member of the Wow Reading Club. The aim is to write a report in English about books we’ve read. I read Hunting Badger, a novel from Tony Hillerman in 1999.
Here’s the summary from the front inside cover :
Navajo crimebusters Leaphorn and Chee are back together on a case, and at odds with the FBI over a backcountry manhunt in this latest thrilling addition to Tony Hillerman’s bestselling series.
In 1998 three heavily armed “survivalists” came out of the Four Corners canyons in a stolen truck. They murdered a policeman, had a shootout with pursuers and then vanished – eluding a manhunt that eventually involved hundreds of officers from more than twenty federal and state agencies. The crime and the bungled FBI investigation left behind a web of mysteries. Why did one of the bandits kill himself ? How did the others escape ? Why has no one in this impoverished area claimed the huge reward the government still offers ? Most puzzling of all, what crime were they en rote to commit when Officer Dale Claxton stopped them – and paid for his bravery with his life ?
Tony Hillerman assigns these real puzzles to his fictional Navajo Tribal Police officers – Sergeant Jim Chee and retired Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn. The time is now and the memory of the mishandled manhunt of 1998 is still painfully fresh. Three men stage a predawn raid on the Ute tribe’s gambling casino. They kill one policeman, wound another, and disappear in the maze of canyons on the Utah-Arizona border. The BI takes over the investigation, and agents swarm in with their helicopters, their high-tech equipment and a theory of the crime that makes a wounded deputy sheriff a suspect. This development calls Chee in from his vacation, and a request for a favor draws in Leaphorn. Chee finds a fatal flaw in the federal theory, and Leaphorn sees an intriguing pattern connecting this crime with the exploits of a legendary Ute hero-bandit.
Tightly plotted and beautifully written. Hunting Badger proves once again that tony Hillerman is a master storyteller.
It’s the second time that I read a novel from Tony Hillerman. The first was Coyote Waits, that a friend of mine offered to me when he learned that I was moving to the USA. Those novels take place among the Navajo Tribal Police (nowadays the Navajo Nation police) in Arizona, in the Four Corners region.
I liked the way the time lasts. The time of a conversation, when you really wait before you answer, to be sure that your interlocutor has finished his sentence completely. The time of a day, with the sound and the smell of the coffee, with the long distances to travel before reaching the next place. The time of a life, with the relations between a retired agent (Leaphorn) and a quite old agent (Chee).
Otherwise, this novel speaks about the Navajo’s and Ute’s traditions and legends. I don’t know them so well so I could tell you an example, but they are often or even always connected to the nature around the people. This novel describes also that nature, wild and beautiful, in the Four Corners canyon.
And last, but not least, Hunting Badger is a crime novel, with the mystery developing through the pages. Is the first theory of the police the right one? But Chee and Leaphorn know how to look beyond the appearance and will find the real criminal…