Two years ago, wealthy oil-lease magnate Wiley Denton confessed to shooting Marvin McKay dead—a con man, he testified, whose offer of a partnership in the lost Golden Calf goldmine backfired when he tried to leave Denton’s place with the $50,000 down payment in lieu of any legal agreement—pleaded self-defense, and served his time. Case closed for everybody except Joe Leaphorn, retired Legendary Lieutenant of the Navajo Tribal Police, who’s always wondered what became of Denton’s beautiful young wife Linda, who vanished the day of the killing. Now a second murder has put the case back on the front burner. Officer Bernadette Manuelito has discovered the body of Thomas Doherty, a Forest Service employee who had his old interest in the Golden Calf, in his truck. Trouble is, Bernie didn’t realize Doherty was a murder victim and allowed the crime scene to get so trampled that the Apache County Sheriff’s Department has grabbed the case away from the Tribal Police. Don’t worry about Bernie, though. Before Sgt. Jim Chee, who’s awfully attached to her, can work out a way to cover her misstep, she’s already found the place where Doherty was killed—and begun an investigation that will link both murders to the rumors of a spectral wailing woman at Fort Wingate the Halloween night that Denton shot McKay.
Top-notch detective work by all hands, a solution fully worthy of the puzzle, and all the hard-won wisdom on cultural clashes between Navajos and whites you’d expect from Hillerman (Hunting Badger, 2000, etc.).