Song of the Lion
A Leaphorn, Chee & Manuelito Novel #2
Harper, April 2017
Anne Hillerman continues to demonstrate she is a solid author in her own right, albeit using the characters developed by her late father, Tony, in the series featuring Jim Chee, Bernadette Manuelito and Joe Leaphorn. And by expanding Bernie’s role, she has added her own stamp on the series, which began in 1970, and in which this is her third novel.
The action begins when a bomb explodes, destroying a BMW belonging to a local hero who is mediating a hearing on a proposed resort on Navajo land adjacent to the Grand Canyon. A young man is killed while sitting in the car. The owner is playing in an alumni-student basketball game, and Jim Chee is assigned to be his bodyguard, driving him to the hearing and watching over him. The plot develops in unexpected ways and as it unfolds, Bernie gets to play a deeper role than that of a bystander. She takes over uncovering the real reason for the explosion, enlisting the assistance of Leaphorn, who still suffers from a bullet wound in his brain, but recalls an earlier incident, which helps Bernie resolve the case.
Common to the series are the descriptions of the arid Navajo country, the rituals, myths and customs of the people so well-done by Tony Hillerman and now continued on an equal footing by his daughter. Her plotting is similarly on a par with the series’ founder. And by introducing an environmental issue in the plot, she has brought the series up to date, while maintaining the integrity of the basic story and its characters.
Reviewed by Ted Feit, June 2017.