Another joint venture for Lieut. Joe Leaphorn (a somber, skeptical widower) and Officer Jim Chee (a younger, more mystical sort), Navajo cops whose paths cross once again--this time in Washington, D.C., where separate trails lead both men to shady doings in and around the Smithsonian. Leaphorn is following his hunches about an unidentified murder victim whose body has turned up on the Navajo reservation. The dead man turns out to be a leftist Chilean exile--but what was he doing in Arizona? Meanwhile, Chee gets orders to arrest one Henry Highhawk, an eccentric Smithsonian curator who has come west in search of his marginal Navajo roots. (Along the way, in protest against the Smithsonian's collection of Native American skeletons, Henry has robbed some posh white graves.) And Chee--like Leaphorn, officially "on vacation"--heads for Washington when Henry and his Navajo lawyer (Chee's old chum Janet Pete) appear to be in danger from a skulking thug. . .the very same psycho-for-hire, it turns out, whom Leaphorn is hunting. Hillerman's plot-elements here--an elaborate assassination conspiracy, heaped-up coincidences--are uncharacteristically contrived and implausible. The Washington action, complete with Elmore Leonard-like closeups of the pathetic psycho-hit-man, lacks the intense, unique atmosphere of such series standouts as The Ghostway. Still, if less richly nuanced with Navajo themes and scenes than previous tales, this minor Hillerman remains far-above-average crime fiction: vividly peopled, forcefully told.