New Fiction: Spider Woman’s Daughter – Anne Hillerman

Nothing but love for this one. Tony Hillerman’s long-lived series about Navajo policemen Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee is the gold standard for a certain kind of mystery—smart, textured, and interested as much in the landscape and the world the characters live in as the mystery that drives the plot.

Hillerman’s daughter writes this new installment in the series. Some worried whether it would work, but those at Harper who know Anne had no doubt. Like her father, she’s a journalist. And like her father, she has a keen eye for both the landscape and the story.

Reviews are great. Everyone’s glad to see Leaphorn and Chee back—and handled so deftly. Indie booksellers and commercial outlets alike are behind it. This one’s going right to the bestseller list.

“Officer Bernadette Manuelito, who married Chee in 2004’s Skeleton Man, sees a gunman shoot Leaphorn in a restaurant parking lot, but isn’t close enough to stop the shooter from driving off. With Leaphorn comatose, Chee is named head investigator, while Manuelito is officially removed from the case because she’s a witness.… Chee may lead, but Manuelito forcefully injects herself into the case as a desperate killer threatens to strike again. Like her father, Hillerman has a gift for combining history and mystery.”
Publishers Weekly

[W]hat Anne Hillerman did was quite an amazing stunt.  She made this a tribute to her father’s character Lt Leaphorn….[W]hile Leaphorn is in a coma, his protégé Jim Chee and Chee’s wife, another cop, Bernie, attempt to solve the crime.  All the while, the focus is on Leaphorn’s previous accomplishments, and many of his past cases are brought into play in the current mystery.  This is like a walk down memory lane with a beloved friend, someone who’s been with me since the 1980s!  Also, to her credit, Anne shifts the focus ever so slightly onto Bernie, a female protagonist and probably the future main character for the series, thus letting the reader get nostalgic while accepting this wonderful new character as a family member.  It’s very well done.  I enjoyed it very much.”
–Bill Carl, Assistant Manager, The Booksellers on Fountain Square

If you’d like a closer look into Anne Hillerman’s thinking regarding taking on this iconic series, check out her Publishers Weekly interview, The Return of Leaphorn and Chee: PW Talks with Anne Hillerman. One interesting tidbit from the interview: Chaco Canyon is one of my favorite places in the Southwest, and Dad used it in one of his best books, A Thief of Time. I knew for this first novel I needed a setting that would not only work for the story but also give the book a firm footing in the beautiful country that Dad loved. Chaco Canyon is rich with unsolved mysteries, too, so that made it my first choice.”

Spider Woman’s Daughter (9780062270481) by Anne Hillerman. $26.99 hardcover. 10/1/13 one day laydown.

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