September 2017 - Between The Pages: Song of Lion - A New Book by Anne Hillerman
Building on her father Tony Hillerman’s mysteries of the Southwest, Anne Hillerman has deftly stepped in to continue the stories of Navajo Tribal officers Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee. In a clever twist, Hillerman has created a strong female character that earns your respect and adds to the key understanding of Navajo Land and its people.
Navajo Tribal Police officer Bernadette Manuelito, known as Bernie, takes her place on center stage, juggling her Navajo heritage with the challenges of being a police officer, wife, and traditional Navajo daughter. Modern day conflict between traditional lands, Hopi and Navajo people, and multi-million dollar land developments by questionable developers spark the story, which begins with a bomb going off at a local high school event. Bernie is dogged and clever in digging deep into the layers of greed and revenge. The story mirrors conflict read about in the newspapers today.
In this third novel by Hillerman, Song of the Lion is a thriller with good detective work on the part of Bernie bringing the story to a clever conclusion. Along the way, the story weaves the daily life and traditions of Navajos into the fabric of the people and relationships in Navajo Land. Bernie must juggle the challenge of being a Navajo woman in a non-traditional role in the Tribal Police’s tightknit society, working to earn the respect of the Tribal Police.
Readers who loved the Tony Hillerman detective stories will welcome back Chee (and even a glimpse of Leaphorn) in this engaging thriller. Clever plotting and well-developed characters take the reader into a story that goes beyond the usual thriller. Before even finishing Song of the Lion, I found myself reading more slowly so the story wouldn’t end.
Song of the Lion
Harper Collins Publishers
Reviewed by Pat Hodapp, Director of Santa Fe Public Libraries and author of "100 Things to Do in Santa Fe Before You Die" (2016).