Dance Hall of the Dead Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of Dance Hall of the Dead

When two boys disappear, one of them leaving a pool of blood behind. Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn of the Navajo Tribal Police finds himself not only tracking a ruthless killer into the desert but finding out about the mysteries of the Zuni people's religion and in the politics of a controversial archeological dig. In his Navajo way, the Lieutenant tries to think his way through the problem and with the help of a sympathetic girl from a dodgy commune who befriended the missing boys, sets out to find the truth and if the boys are still alive.
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The review of this Book prepared by Di Bingham

    A ritual slaying leads Lt. Joe Leaphorn straight into the mystifying secrets of the Zuni,
requiring all his skill and intelligence to solve this mystery. In “Dance Hall of the Dead,”
Tony Hillerman continues his stories set in the Navajo nation. A young Zuni is the victim,
the boy's best friend is missing, and Leaphorn is off on an Odyssey of the Arizona
Southwest. Leaphorn is a human segue for the Navajo peoples; at once, he seeks to
preserve this ancient culture as well as to try to understand it; on the other hand, he clearly
understands that he is living in the 20th century. He tries diligently to bridge the two. In
the Hillerman stories, we find, in addition to a murder here and there, we find a lesson in
native American culture as well. The reservation is alive with archeological finds, religious
beliefs, skinwalkers, a tapestry of the Old. This doesn't faze Leaphorn, however, who
knows that the answers are always there, whether it be with Navajo beliefs or relying on
modern crime-solving techniques.
The review of this Book prepared by Bill Hobbs

Chapter Analysis of Dance Hall of the Dead

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Plot & Themes

Composition of Book descript. of violence and chases 10%Planning/preparing, gather info, debate puzzles/motives 30%Feelings, relationships, character bio/development 30%How society works & physical descript. (people, objects, places) 30% Tone of story    -   very upbeat How difficult to spot villain?    -   Difficult, but some clues given Time/era of story:    -   1980's-1999    -   1960's-1970's Spying/Terrorism Thriller    -   Yes What % of story relates directly to the mystery, not the subplot?    -   90% Misc. Murder Plotlets    -   Big focus on forensic evidence Kind of investigator    -   American Indian mystery Kid or adult book?    -   Adult or Young Adult Book Religious overtones?    -   Yes Any non-mystery subplot?    -   life in that culture Crime Thriller    -   Yes Murder Mystery (killer unknown)    -   Yes General Crime (including known murderer)    -   Yes Who's the criminal enemy here?    -   drug dealers    -   finding a known killer

Main Character

Gender    -   Male Profession/status:    -   government investigator    -   police/lawman Age:    -   40's-50's


United States    -   Yes The US:    -   West    -   Pacific NW Desert?    -   Yes

Writing Style

Accounts of torture and death?    -   moderately detailed references to deaths Amount of dialog    -   roughly even amounts of descript and dialog

Books with storylines, themes & endings like Dance Hall of the Dead

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