Fascinating courtly intrigue and bloody power games set on a generation ship full of secrets―Medusa Uploaded is an imaginative, intense mystery about family dramas and ancient technologies whose influence reverberates across the stars. Disturbing, exciting, and frankly kind of mind-blowing.” ―Annalee Newitz, author of Autonomous

Friday, December 13, 2013

Officer Bernadette Kicks Butt

I enjoyed Anne Hillerman's new book, Spider Woman's Daughter, set in her late father's Navajo Detective series. I confess, once I realized she was a writer who had published a book about her father's journies in Navajoland (Tony Hillerman's Landscape), I was hoping she might pick up the reins and write a book in his series. When Spider Woman's Daughter was released, I snatched it up and dove into it. I quickly discovered that Anne Hillerman has her father's knack for building suspense and character. Even more important, she knows how to allow the reader to work on the mystery along with the main characters. I loved being able to learn more about the characters of Officer Bernadette Manuelito and her mother, as well.

Not to sound like a Philistine, but I did not discover Tony Hillerman's detective series until two years ago, after I began to work at the Heard Museum's book store. My mother was devoted to the series for many years, waiting for each new book with bated breath, so I knew they wouldn't disappoint me once I picked them up. And yet I still didn't read them – not until I read Talking Mysteries byTony Hillerman and Ernie Bulow (Ernie Bulow also wrote Navajo Taboos). This slim volume contains an introduction by Ernie Bulow, a quick autobiography by Tony Hillerman, an interview in which Bulow and Hillerman discuss writing and writing methods, and a masterpiece of a short story by Hillerman. Be sure and turn all the way to the end of the book, where you'll find gorgeous illustrations by Ernest Franklin depicting Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee on the trail of a mystery. Once I had seen those illustrations, I knew I had to start reading about the characters.

I have now read all but the last two books in Tony Hillerman's series, and I've been very spoiled by being able to pick them up without having to wait for them to be written. Alas, I'll be forced to wait with everyone else for Anne's new books in the series.

So – how much did I enjoy her book? So much, I'm looking forward to reading the next one. Considering the big shoes Anne had to step into, this is high praise. But one word of warning: things get hairy really quick. You'll be on the hook until the very end!

I decided not to try to use any of the cover graphics for these books from google - they would only be taken down, because they're proprietary.  The photo at the top of this post was taken in Petrified Forest/Painted Desert national park, which is also Navajo Country.

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