Tony Hillerman Books In Order

Publication Order of Leaphorn and Chee Books

The Blessing Way (1970) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Dance Hall of the Dead (1973) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Listening Woman (1978) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
People of Darkness (1980) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Dark Wind (1982) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Ghostway (1984) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Skinwalkers (1986) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
A Thief of Time (1988) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Talking God (1989) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Coyote Waits (1990) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Sacred Clowns (1993) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Fallen Man (1996) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The First Eagle (1998) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Hunting Badger (1999) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Wailing Wind (2002) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Sinister Pig (2003) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Skeleton Man (2004) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Shape Shifter (2006) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Publication Order of Standalone Novels

The Fly on the Wall (1971) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Finding Moon (1995) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Publication Order of Children's Books

The Boy Who Made Dragonfly (1972) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Buster Mesquite's Cowboy Band (1973) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Tony Hillerman was a critically acclaimed American author of a series of detective novels. The Navajo series was his most notable work. The series focuses on the adventures of Detectives Leghorn and Chee of the Navajo Tribal police force. Several of his books within this series have been adapted into successful television films that evoke the mystery and beauty saturated in Hillerman’s novels.

Early Life

Anthony (Tony) Grove Hillerman was born in Sacred Heart, Oklahoma in 1925. He was the youngest of three children. His father was a farmer and store keeper. From 1930-1938, Tony Hillerman attended St. Mary’s Academy, a boarding school that was primarily for Native American girls. It was here that he developed an understanding and appreciation of the Native American culture which influenced the subject matter of his books. In high school he attended another primarily Native American school, Konawa High School. After a brief stint in college, Hillerman returned home to the farm to work. In World War II, he became a decorated war veteran, serving as a mortarman for the 103rd Infantry Division. While in the military, Hillerman received a Bronze Star, a Silver Star, and a Purple Heart.

After World War II, he worked as a journalist (1948-1962). Tony Hillerman then attained a master’s degree. With his degree, Hillerman taught journalism at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Here Tony Hillerman began his career as a superb novelist. He first became famous for his unique, supernatural Navajo series, which featured 18 books. Throughout his career, Hillerman wrote more than 30 books. He was also noted for writing several memoirs about his life in the Southwest and the history of the Southwest. As a result, Tony Hillerman was ranked as the 22nd wealthiest man in New Mexico in 1996.


Hillerman is one of the most decorated writers in New Mexico history. He has received a number of literary honors for his critically acclaimed Navajo series. He was awarded the Parris Award by the Southwest Writer’s Workshop for his dedication to improving the writing careers for other writers. Hillerman’s work is known around the United States and throughout the world. His books have been translated into more than eight languages including, Dutch and Japanese.

Tony Hillerman’s work is known for the flawless cultural details he presents in the series, particularly the Zuni and Hopi tribes. Much of the content of his books, deal with the inter-relationships of the Zuni and Hopi tribes, federal agents, the Navajo Tribal Police, and Europen-Americans. Both his non-ficition and fictional work is a reflection of his childhood respect and admiration for the beauty of the American Southwest, the Native American culture, and the Navajo people.

Hillerman’s mystery novels take place in the American Southwest. The areas of New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, and Colorado are the main areas, but his mysteries extend to Los Angeles and all the way to Washington, DC. The main character in his Navajo series is Joe Leaphorn, and Jim Chee, two officers in the Navajo Tribal police. Hillerman’s first novel and smash success was The Blessing Way (1970), and introduced the universe of the Navajo Tribal police and the character Joe Leaphorn. His second novel, Dance Hall of the Dead (1973), received an Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America. Hillerman received the Mystery Writers of America’s Grand Master Award in 1991. Later Hillerman received Navajo

Tribes’ Special Friends of Dineh Award for his representation of the Navajo people in an award winning novel series. He also received the Nero Award for his novel Coyote Waits.


Hillerman has always acknowledged the earlier writings of author Arthur W. Upfield that is set among the aborigine people in Australia. The Upfield novels were published in 1928 and featured Detective Napoleon Bonaparte. The character, along with his sidekick, investigated supernatural events in the desert.

The Leaphorn and Chee Books (The Navajo Series)

The Navajo series is also known as the Leaphorn and Chee books. The series has a few recurring themes, many of which revolve around the differing attitude of Leaphorn and Chee. Leaphorn is a skeptic but does take the notion of witchcraft seriously. While he doesn’t believe in witchcraft, he believes that people who believe in witches are dangerous. Even though he does not think the supernatural is real, he does respect Navajo tradition and takes his job and murder very seriously.

Chee holds more traditional Navajo beliefs. As a follower of Navajo traditions, Chee is also a practicing shaman, in his spare time when he is not chasing down supernatural mysteries with Joe Leaphorn. Throughout the novels, Leaphorn and Chee investigate a variety of cases of the supernatural and witchcraft. Other novels deal with their relationships with the “white man” and the Navajo culture. Readers will notice that Hillerman often refers to characters by descriptive nicknames. For example, a murder victim is called “Pointed Shoes.”

The Blessing Way

Hillerman’s first novel of the series features anthropologist Bergen Mckee who comes to the Navajo Reservation to investigate reports of witchcraft. At the same time, Joe Leaphorn investigates the murder of a person found with a mouth full of sand. Soon both McKee and Leaphorn are in danger as they investigate the disappearance of an electronics expert.

Dance Hall of the Dead

This book is the second book in the popular Leaphorn and Chee series. When a young Navajo and his Zuni friend disappear, Leaphorn is asked to investigate the disappearance of the Navajo boy. When the Navajo boy’s friend, Ernesto, is found dead, the need to find the boy grows.

Television and Film Adaptations

Several of Tony Hillerman’s books have been adapted into television films. The Dark Wind (1991), Skinwalker (2002), Coyote Waits (2003), A Thief of Time (2004), and Skinning the Night: American Mystery (DVD release). Skinwalker was a television film success with an all star cast. The film was produced as a part of the popular PBS Mystery! Series. These films have featured some notable stars like; Lou Diamond Phillips, Adam Beach, and Wes Studi.

Anthony Hillerman’s love for the Southwest, and the Native American culture, has led to the creation of an award winning body of work. Hillerman’s books are known and loved for their powerful and accurate descriptions of the Southwestern area, its history and the Navajo experience. Tony Hillerman has also produced a number of memoirs as well, but Hillerman’s most prolific work was the Navajo series (also known as the Leaphorn and Chee series). It is here where his footprint his most seen.

Book Series In Order » Authors » Tony Hillerman