Hillerman was a poet -- a haiku-master of description. But it's his characters, Leaphorn and Chee, that bring his marvelous stories to life. Between them -- Leaphorn, the older, the supremely rational and analytical legendary lieutenant of the tribal police, and Chee, the younger policeman, the would-be hatali , singer of Navajo ceremonies -- we learn much of modern day Navajo life and the tension between the old ways and the new.
Whenever I'm asked what mystery writers I read, Tony Hillerman is at the top of the list. That won't change -- I've reread all his novels many times for the sheer joy of being in that world and I'll continue to visit again and again the mesas and canyons of New Mexico.
As Jim Chee, the hatali might say: May he go with beauty all around him.