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by Anne Hillerman
Harper, April 2019
304 pages
ISBN: 006239195X

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

This is the fifth book written by Anne Hillerman to continue Tony Hillerman's long-running Leaphorn & Chee series. Anne Hillerman has brought the focus of the series to the young female Navajo Nation cop, Bernie Manuelito, as she extended the series, also shining a light on the role of women within the culture. While Leaphorn and his language and romantic troubles are important aspects of this book, Hillerman continues to examine the female side of the series.

Leaphorn is hired by a museum curator to find missing items from an anonymous gift of artifacts: a bracelet and a historically significant dress. Over the course of his investigation, a young woman working at the museum dies, threats concerning witchcraft are received, and the evil that can hide within families is exposed. At the same time, Bernie becomes involved in a robbery investigation Chee is heading up, and she stumbles upon a murder victim on one of her runs. As most things are on the reservation, these various threads are interconnected in both important and unimportant ways.

While there is at least one human manifestation of evil involved in the cases, there is an overriding sense of the goodness of people in this book. Even situations resulting in crime and murder are multi-dimensional enough that the reader sympathizes with those involved. Bernie and Chee are married, and though their jobs seem to make it difficult for them to be in the same place at the same time, there is a palpable sense of love and concern between them. Leaphorn has a curmudgeonly and taciturn approach to his romantic involvement, often feeling but not expressing his care for his partner, and this is compounded by the troubles he's had with the English language since an early traumatic brain injury. The reader feels his frustration and can relish his growth over the course of the book.

Having familiarity with the previous books in the series will provide depth to the reading of this latest, but it is not necessary to have read the earlier books to enjoy THE TALE TELLER. Each of the characters is well developed between the covers of the book, and enough background is given for the new reader to avoid confusion.

Sharon Mensing, retired educational leader, lives, reads, and enjoys the outdoors in rural Wyoming.

Reviewed by Sharon Mensing, January 2019

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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