Anne Hillerman’s fourth novel in the New Mexico-set detective series that extends the work of her late father, Tony Hillerman, featuring Navajo tribal police officers Joe Leaphorn, Jim Chee, and Bernadette “Bernie” Manuelito.
Anne Hillerman has a clean, tight, and consistent writing style. A former journalist who covered the Southwest for the Santa Fe New Mexican and the Albuquerque Journal, her prose shows the same discipline and economy of description that other authors such as Michael Connelly also bring to the genre from their newspaper reporting experience. At the same time, she’s capable of very nice touches that reveal her comfort level as a writer of fiction ... While the primary characters come across as quite consistent with those of her father—which is fine, thank you—the manner in which she has expanded and developed Bernie Manuelito’s point of view is gratifying ... The only false note is the new FBI character Agent Sage Johnson, who comes across as an annoying caricature right out of the gate ... in sum, Cave of Bones is a success. It’s an enjoyable and entertaining novel that takes us once again into a landscape and a culture we’ve learned to appreciate on many levels. It’s easy to read, it pleases the sensibilities, and it answers our earlier question nicely—this fictional universe now belongs firmly in the hands of Anne Hillerman.
Fans of the series will appreciate that Lieutenant Leaphorn, injured in a previous series entry, makes an appearance here. Also present in Hillerman’s accessible and relaxingly paced work are her usual unobtrusive and enjoyable details about Navajo culture and the southwestern landscape. Readers who enjoy the work of Anne’s father, Tony Hillerman, as well as mysteries by Nevada Barr, will welcome another outing with Leaphorn, Chee, and Manuelito.
The Hillermans have enlightened us belaganas (the Navajo word for white man) to strong Southwestern Indian moral beliefs and ways of living. The atmospheric prose in Cave of Bones brings back fond memories of travel through this mysterious and legendary world that my family calls home.