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Native American Mysteries: Home

Tony Hillerman, Dana Stabenow, and more

Hillerman paints such vivid pictures of the vast empty southwestern dessert. You feel as if you are riding along with Leaphorn or Chee as they drive those long, lonely highways.

 

Photo by Jeff Scott

Tony Hillerman

About Hillerman's Books

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

Website Listing All Tony Hillerman's Books

Tony Hillerman Portal

Following in her Father's Footsteps

Daughter Anne Hillerman continued the series with Spider Woman’s Daughter, 2013

Aimee and David Thurlo

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.

Author Website

Kirk Mitchell

Featured Tribe:  Varies

Locale:  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.

Website Listing All Books

Introduction to the Native American Mystery

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:

Dana Stabenow

Featured Tribe:  Aleut

Locale:  Alaska

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.

Author Website

Denali, photo by Kate Kramer

William Kent Krueger

Featured Tribe:  Ojibwe

Locale:  Minnesota

Main Character:  Cork O'Connor, sometimes sheriff

First Book in Series:  Iron Lake, 1998

Author Website

Peter Bowen

Featured Tribe:  Metis (a mixed people of Cree & other Native American & French and other European descent)

Locale:  Montana

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.

Website Listing All Books

James Doss

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.

Website Listing All Books

Margaret Coel

Featured Tribe:  Arapaho

Locale:  Wyoming

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.

Author Website