cover image A Thief of Time

A Thief of Time

Tony Hillerman. HarperCollins Publishers, $15.45 (209pp) ISBN 978-0-06-015938-2

Topping even his highly praised The Blessing Way and Skinwalkers, Hillerman's new novel seamlessly unites drama, pathos and naturally humorous incidents in the continuing story of Navajo life set in the American Southwest. Tribal police officers Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee head a big and skillfully realized cast involved in the disappearance of anthropologist Eleanor Friedman-Bernal. Near Dr. Friedman-Bernal's secret dig, Chee finds the bodies of men who have been stealing the Anasazi cultural relics the anthropologist is dedicated to protecting. Leaphorn makes his way to this dangerous, almost inaccessible site after consulting with Chee and questioning the missing woman's friends, Maxie Davis and her colleague, Randall Elliott. They are also, the detective feels, prickly scientific rivals, a factor that deepens the mystery as does each step on the trail that ends when Leaphorn's mission seems accomplished in an eerie meeting with a mad hermit. But there is a twist in circumstances so suspenseful it stops the reader's breath. Once more, Hillerman's artistry ensures that his latest cannot be easily classified as murder mystery or thrilleror anything except a fine novel. 75,000 first printing; $100,000 ad/promo, BOMC, QPBC, Detective Book Club and Mysterious Book Club alternates; author tour. (July)