Photo by Jeff Scott
Featured Tribe: Navajo
Locale: Four Corners
Main Characters: Joe Leaphorn & Jim Chee, Navajo police officers
First Book in Series: The Blessing Way (first Leaphorn), 1970; People of Darkness (first Chee), 1980; Skinwalkers (first novel featuring both Leaphorn & Chee), 1986
Number of Book in Series: 18
Daughter Anne Hillerman continued the series with Spider Woman’s Daughter, 2013
Featured Tribe: Navajo
Locale: Northern New Mexico and Arizona
Main Character: Ella Clah, Navajo FBI agent
First Book in Series: Blackening Song, 1995
Comments: The most "supernatural" of these series, plumbing the Navajo traditional belief system.
Featured Tribe: Varies
Main Characters: Emmet Parker, BIA Agent and Comanche; Anna Turnipseed, FBI Agent and Modoc Indian
First Book in Series: Cry Dance, 1999
Comments: These two federal agents deal with crimes on reservations all over the country, so one gets a feel for various Native American issues.
Tony Hillerman, who passed away in 2008 at the age of 83, did more than write a wonderful series of books. He invented a new subgenre of mysteries—the Native American mystery. In 2013, his daughter, Anne Hillerman, wrote a new mystery featuring her father’s beloved characters, so the series lives on! We can also enjoy the other mystery series with a Native American theme inspired by the popularity of Hillerman’s works. So in honor of Mr. Hillerman, reread his books and try these authors who follow in his footsteps:
Featured Tribe: Aleut
Main Character: Kate Shugak, private investigator
First Book in Series: A Cold Day for Murder, 1992
Comments: Stabenow can plumb the full range of emotions. Some of her books make you laugh. Others can make you grieve.
Denali, photo by Kate Kramer
Featured Tribe: Metis (a mixed people of Cree & other Native American & French and other European descent)
Main Character: Gabriel Du Pre, part-time cattle brand inspector, deputy, and fiddle player
First Book in Series: Coyote Wind, 1994
Comments: Wonderful characters. You want to be a part of that small Montana community.
Featured Tribe: Ute
Locale: Southern Colorado
Main Characters: Charlie Moon, tribal investigator; Scott Parris, police chief
First Book in Series: The Shaman Sings, 1994
Number of Books in Series: 17
Comments: The most humorous of these series, primarily due to Charlie Moon’s cranky old Aunt Daisy.
Featured Tribe: Arapaho
Main Characters: Father John O'Malley, mission priest; Vicky Holden, Arapaho attorney
First Book in Series: The Eagle Catcher, 1995
Comments: Coel's plots are probably the strongest of these series. She gets into some fascinating historical topics.