BEA'S BOOK NOOK "I can't imagine a man really enjoying a book and reading it only once." C. S. Lewis “If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all.” ― Oscar Wilde

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Bea Reviews Rock with Wings by Anne Hillerman

Publisher: Harper Collins
Series: Navajo Mysteries #20
Format Read: eGalley
Source: the publisher in exchange for an honest review
Release Date: May 5, 2015
Challenges: NetGalley and Edelweiss Reading Challenge
Buying Links: Amazon* | Book Depository* | OmniLit* | Barnes & Noble
* affiliate links; the blog receives a small commission from purchases made through these links.

Blurb from goodreads:

Navajo Tribal cops Jim Chee and Bernadette Manuelito, and their mentor, the legendary Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn, investigate two perplexing cases in this exciting Southwestern mystery from the New York Times bestselling author of Spider Woman’s Daughter

Doing a good deed for a relative offers the perfect opportunity for Sergeant Jim Chee and his wife, Officer Bernie Manuelito, to get away from the daily grind of police work. But two cases will call them back from their short vacation and separate them—one near Shiprock, and the other at iconic Monument Valley.

Chee follows a series of seemingly random and cryptic clues that lead to a missing woman, a coldblooded thug, and a mysterious mound of dirt and rocks that could be a gravesite. Bernie has her hands full managing the fallout from a drug bust gone wrong, uncovering the origins of a fire in the middle of nowhere, and looking into an ambitious solar energy development with long-ranging consequences for Navajo land.

Under the guidance of their mentor, retired Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn, Bernie and Chee will navigate unexpected obstacles and confront the greatest challenge yet to their skills, commitment, and courage.

Bea's Thoughts:

A few months ago, I discovered, quite by accident, that Tony Hillerman's daughter had started writing books in her late father's Navajo mystery series. I used to gobble those up so I got her first one from the library and enjoyed so much that when I saw this title at Edelweiss, I immediately requested it. I was quite happy when my request was approved.

It's been years since I read any of Tony Hillerman's books which meant when I read the first book by Anne that I couldn't always tell where his voice ended and hers began because my memory just wasn't good enough to tell them apart at times. That's a mixed blessing but reading this book, the second one by her, it seemed to me that her voice was stronger than in her first one, Spider Woman's Daughter. That one seemed to me to be a mix of the two authorial voices. The characters stayed true to her father's creation but she's got her own style of writing. She did do something rather drastic to one character in "Spider Woman's Daughter", maybe trying to establish herself in his world and take the series in a new direction?

In "Rock with Wings", we get a slow, character driven story. The mysteries themselves appear relatively late in the book (the first one around the 20% mark in my egalley) and Anne devotes much more time to the character's private lives than I recall Tony doing. I really need to pull out some of his books and reread. If you want a fast paced mystery or lots of action, this isn't the book for you; probably not even the right series. The focus is on Bernie and Jim, two cops, and Navajos, married to each other; their daily lives, their families, their relationship, and their police work. Time has passed since Spider Woman's Daughter and life has progressed. While the pace may be slow, life is not static and neither are the characters.

"Rock with Wings" gives us a strong sense of place and culture, but in the native sense, not the tourist sense. Hillerman explains some things that may seem obvious to residents of the areas where the book is set but there's no info dump, it's just part of the story. Family obligations, regional and tribal customs and habits, mysteries and mundane police work, all receive equal treatment. They are woven together into into one cohesive story that takes you out of your world for a bit and drops you into another for a pleasant visit. The ending of the book, and the resolution of one mystery, was a bit too predictable and pat for me but the journey was what mattered. That mystery, I was partially correct in the who and the why while the other one I wasn't even close. :D Both mysteries struck me as overly complicated but other readers may feel differently. I simply enjoyed the story and spending time with old friends. I'll be back for the next book.

1 comment:

  1. Good review, Bea! I appreciate how you talk about the differences between the two authors, and make it clear that Anne's books are not identical to Tony's, but also good. The opportunity to vicariously experience another culture is one of the things that draws me to this series, but so far, I've yet to read any of the books. Would it be better to start at the beginning (I assume)? Or is this a series where you can more-or-less dive in anywhere?

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