June 6, 2003

The Sinister Pig

The Sinister Pig
Tony Hillerman

Hillerman's full complement -- Joe Leaphorn, Jim Chee, Cowboy Dashee, and Bernadette Manuelito -- are on hand to investigate an odd homicide, made even odder by the curious efforts of the FBI to convince everyone that everything is perfectly fine. As usual, Hillerman gets the West right, without effort or affectation. The complex plot drifts toward thriller territory, and Hillerman is (as usual) less comfortable in the halls of power.

To be honest, I think Hillerman is more effective when he lets his police work small crimes. Who keeps pushing over the new windmill? Why'd you pick up the wrong Begay? How come the people in some remote corner of the reservation think evil witches are abroad? It's exciting to see Manuelito here n the middle of an international drug cartel, but it was just as exciting in the old days to see Chee in the middle of a county-wide sheep-napping ring. Lots of people can do thrillers, Hillerman can make us care about sheep and windmills. I miss the little cases.