Anne Hillerman took a gamble picking up her father's mystery series. Tony Hillerman's Leaphorn and Chee
Captain Howard Largo invited a number of younger police officers to the Monday morning meetings at the Navajo Inn where the cops brainstormed cold cases over breakfast. Bernie felt honored to be included so she drove an hour in on her day off to participate. The meeting was breaking up, but she was the only officer out in the parking lot when someone got out of a car, and shot a retired officer point blank. While Bernie tried to keep him alive, she also tried to remember all the details of the shooter and the vehicle. As the victim clung to life, it would be Bernie's descriptions that would drive the FBI investigation. "There had never been a shooting of one of the Navajo Nation's best-known policemen in broad daylight outside a busy restaurant, with a table full of other cops just a heartbeat away."
Flown to a Santa Fe hospital, the victim was a heartbeat from death. As a witness, Bernie was suspended from the investigation, but Captain Largo knew she would do her best to help her husband, Chee, who was put in charge of finding the killer. Strand by strand, Bernie and Chee try to follow the clues, but it's Bernie, who knows the Navajo stories, and honors the legends involving weaving and pottery, "Spider Woman's daughter", who would finally weave together the threads of the crime.
It's probably heresy to say I actually enjoyed Spider Woman's Daughter more than some of Tony Hillerman's books. Anne Hillerman manages to write a riveting police procedural while incorporating the Navajo culture and traditions. At times, I found her father's works to be a little too complicated, and I lost the thread. Anne celebrates the beauty of the land and the people through Bernie and Chee's eyes. However, she never loses the thread of the story in the process.
Bernie was a part of Tony Hillerman's stories. Now, in Anne Hillerman's Spider Woman's Daughter, she takes center stage as a capable investigator in her own right. I hope Tony Hillerman's fans aren't disappointed. Hopefully, they will be thrilled to see his characters live again through the writing of his daughter.
Anne Hillerman's website is www.annehillerman.com
Spider Woman's Daughter by Anne Hillerman. HarperCollins. 2013. ISBN 9780062270481 (hardcover), 320p.
FTC Full Disclosure - The publisher sent me a copy of the book, hoping I would review it.