Sunday, May 27, 2012

Happy Birthday, Tony

On this day in 1925 in Sacred Heart, Oklahoma, Tony Hillerman was born. Most of his novels take place on the Navaho reservation and feature Navaho cops - first Joe Leaphorn, "the legendary lieutenant", and later Sergeant Jim Chee, and then later both of them. Leaphorn is in his fifties in the first book, long married, secular and a master of his craft; Chee is young, single, religious (training to be a Singer/shaman), and just learning that and police work. Nevertheless, people couldn't keep them straight, and enough people actually had conversations with Hillerman which made it clear they thought the two characters were the same person that he put them into the same book. The clash between their world-views worked well in the novel, and they've been in the books ever since. I love these books; even when the quality dropped a bit I still bought them in hardcover - so-so Hillerman is still better than the best of many others - and the last few were a return to his best form.

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