The First Eagle Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of The First Eagle

Jim Chee, acting lieutenant in the Navajo Tribal Police follows up a call for backup by officer Benny Kinsman. He finds Kinsman dead and Robert Jano standing over him with blood on his clothes and arm. Kinsman has arrested Jano for poaching eagles in the past, and Chee correctly assumes he was poaching on this occasion. He arrests Jano for murder.
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Jano claims he is bleeding because an eagle he caught tore his arm. However, an eagle in Jano's cage shows no traces of blood. Jano says he caught another eagle, but it got away. That he says, is the eagle that wounded him.
While Chee is following up the Kinsman murder, his mentor and former lieutenant Joe Leaphorn now working as a private detective is investigating the disappearance of a biologist, Catherine Pollard. Catherine and Richard Krause study bubonic plague among the animals and fleas in the Navajo and Hopi country of the Southwest. They work for the Arizona Health Service, and they are concerned because a drug-resistant strain of the disease has killed three people recently. Apparently coincidentally, Catherine has disappeared in the same area as Kinsman's murder. However, Leaphorn, with 30 years of police experience, doesn't believe in coincidences.
Chee's life is further complicated by the presence of Janet Peet as Jano's court-appointed attorney. Chee and Janet were engaged at one time, but they were never able to reconcile his desire to stay with his tribe and her desire to live high in Washington. After a stint in the Justice Department, she's back and Chee harbors a hope that this means she has decided to return to her people and to him. At her insistence, he continues investigating a case he considered closed. His Navajo skills serve him well as he catches the eagle that wounded Jano confirming at least part of Jano's story.
One possible witness to Kinsman's murder is a researcher, Al Woody. Woody is trying to understand why some colonies of prairie dogs and kangaroo rats survive a plague that wipes out thousands of animals around them. Success could lead to a plague vaccine. Woody has been working in the same area as Catherine, which is the area where Kinsman was murdered.
As Chee and his former boss, Joe Leaphorn, compare notes on their two cases, they discover evidence that seems to link them. They work together to find a solution that wraps up both mysteries.

The review of this Book prepared by David Gordon

A form of the plague is racing across the Navajo nation, much to the fear of its people. Another deadly form is also stalking the reservation--in the form of a killer of humans! Acting Lieutenant Jim Chee has come upon a Hopi eagle poacher--a serious crime in itself--over the corpse of a tribal policeman, and he knows he has an early case solved! The "evidence" is obvious that the man is guilty of murder. But not so fast. Retired Joe Leaphorn enters this scenario. To complicate things, a medical biologist named Cathy Pollard disappears--the exact day that the policeman was murdered. Add to this is news that a skinwalker (a Navajo witch) is making appearances! Hillerman, in "The First Eagle," really makes the feathers fly and this episode in the series shores up Hillerman's reputation as a first rate writer of Southwestern mysteries!
The review of this Book prepared by Bill Hobbs

Chapter Analysis of The First Eagle

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Plot & Themes

Composition of Book descript. of violence and chases 20%Planning/preparing, gather info, debate puzzles/motives 20%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    -   Moderately Challenging Time/era of story:    -   1980's-1999    -   2000+ (Present) Exploring into the wild    -   Yes Plotlets:    -   rare animal hunt    -   finding criminal(s) What % of story relates directly to the mystery, not the subplot?    -   50%    -   80% Misc. Murder Plotlets    -   Proving innocence of very obvious suspect    -   Big focus on forensic evidence    -   Big focus on autopsies Kind of investigator    -   no powwow with Indian killers Kid or adult book?    -   Adult or Young Adult Book Any non-mystery subplot?    -   feelings towards lover Crime Thriller    -   Yes Murder Mystery (killer unknown)    -   Yes Terrain    -   Desert

Main Character

Gender    -   Male Profession/status:    -   government investigator    -   police/lawman Age:    -   20's-30's    -   40's-50's


United States    -   Yes The US:    -   West Mountains/Cliffs    -   Yes Mountains:    -   climbing on trails Desert?    -   Yes

Writing Style

Accounts of torture and death?    -   moderately detailed references to deaths Unusual forms of death    -   biohazard/virus Unusual form of death?    -   Yes Amount of dialog    -   roughly even amounts of descript and dialog    -   significantly more descript than dialog

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Tony Hillerman Books Note: the views expressed here are only those of the reviewer(s).
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