PEOPLE OF DARKNESS by Tony Hillerman
Kirkus Star

PEOPLE OF DARKNESS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Hillerman is once again among the New Mexico Navajos, but Joe Leaphorn isn't the sleuth this time. Instead it's Jim Chee, a young Navajo reservation detective who's also an up-and-coming tribal medicine man. But before Jim has to make his big life decision--join the FBI or become a tribal leader?--he lands in the middle of a bizarre case: the wife of a local white tycoon asks Jim to recover a box of her husband's trinkets stolen by young Tomas Charley, who's the third generation in a family of leaders of a peyote cult, "the People of Darkness." Does this theft of seemingly worthless stuff connect with a bomb-murder attempt on Tomas' father, who's dying of cancer anyway? Or with a bloody 1948 oil-rig explosion that almost killed Tomas' grandfather? As Tomas sleuths, along with nice, tough, white teacher Mary, Hillerman also follows the cool, disturbed hired killer who, having failed to kill Tomas' father, now steals his dead body from the hospital! And soon the killer is after Tomas and Mary (who've seen his face), while they're busy discovering that all of those peyote-club members involved in that 1948 explosion have died of cancer. So there's a final showdown-shootout--and a solution involving uranium deposits, a neat secret past identity (a la Agatha Christie), and a truly chilling modus operandi. Hillerman may overdo the Indian vs. white identity crisis this time--Mary and Jim talk too much--but otherwise this is thoroughly splendid work: moody, atmospheric, complex without contrivance, and properly unsettling. Top work from a top talent.
Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1980
ISBN: 0061808393
Page count: 338pp
Publisher: Harper & Row
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 1980




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