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.
This report 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.
This report prepared by Bill Hobbs