Dance Hall of the Dead by Tony Hillerman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I first read this years ago in a college class on Detective Fiction. But since I've decided to read the Leaphorn series from the start and I barely remembered the plot, I reread this one. This is really the first Leaphorn novel, since in Blessing Way he is more of a secondary character. But here we see the full-blown detective. He is logical, patience, and precise. He is tapped into and understands the more mystical aspects of his culture, but it is not clear to what extent he accepts those beliefs. They are, it seems, just one more tool to help him understand and make sense of the crime he is trying to solve. The landscapes are beautifully described-- I find myself often going to google maps to look for the mesas and washes he talks about. The plot is good, though a bit predictable (that maybe me remembering aspects from previous readings though). Like Spenser, Leaphorn has a need, or rather an obligation of sorts, to rescue young people. Leaphorn in some ways fails, and one can see the weight of that failure on him. Yet, there is no despair here; just determination to continue.
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