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Leaphorn & Chee Books In Order

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Publication Order of Leaphorn & Chee Books

By: Tony Hillerman, Anne Hillerman
The Blessing Way (1970)Description / Buy at Amazon
Dance Hall of the Dead (1973)Description / Buy at Amazon
Listening Woman (1978)Description / Buy at Amazon
People of Darkness (1980)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Dark Wind (1982)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Ghostway (1984)Description / Buy at Amazon
Skinwalkers (1986)Description / Buy at Amazon
A Thief of Time (1988)Description / Buy at Amazon
Talking God (1989)Description / Buy at Amazon
Coyote Waits (1990)Description / Buy at Amazon
Sacred Clowns (1992)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Fallen Man (1996)Description / Buy at Amazon
The First Eagle (1998)Description / Buy at Amazon
Hunting Badger (1999)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Wailing Wind (2002)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Sinister Pig (2003)Description / Buy at Amazon
Skeleton Man (2004)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Shape Shifter (2006)Description / Buy at Amazon
Spider Woman's Daughter (2013)Description / Buy at Amazon
Rock with Wings (2015)Description / Buy at Amazon
Song of the Lion (2017)Description / Buy at Amazon
Cave of Bones (2018)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Tale Teller (2019)Description / Buy at Amazon
Stargazer (2021)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Sacred Bridge (2022)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Way of the Bear (2023)Description / Buy at Amazon
Lost Birds (2024)Description / Buy at Amazon

The Leaphorn and Chee series is a series of crime fiction and detective fiction novels featuring the Navajo tribal police officers, Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee in the main lead. These characters are depicted as serving in the Navajo police force in the southwest U.S.A. There is a total of 20 books published in this series between the years 1970 and 2015. Initially, the series was written by one of the successful American authors named Tony Hillerman. But after his death, it was continued by her daughter, author Anne Hilerman. The two main characters, Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee work together in the Navajo Tribal Police. However, they do not always agree with the viewpoints of each other on the topics of several supernatural traditions taking place in Navajo. The series is also called as the Navajo Mysteries in some other countries. Three of the books of the series were adapted into movies after their successful publication. Author Tony Hillerman began writing the series in the year 1970 and released the first book in the same year. Tony worked on and finished writing a total of 18 novels up to the time of his death in the year 2008. After that, his daughter, Anne Hillerman, inherited the series and has added two novels in the series till now. Author Anne Hillerman has said that she is currently working on the latest novels of the series, which she is about to publish in the coming months.

An earlier book published in the series is titled as ‘Listening Woman’. It was released in the year 1978 by the HarperTorch publication. Author Tony Hillerman has done the setting of the story in the United States. The plot mainly revolves around the life of Joe Leaphorn. In this book, Leaphorn begins to pursue a phone call and ends up nearly killing himself by a running car. After that, he gets entangled in a difficult hostage situation around the caves located near San Juan River. As the plot begins, a character named Maragret Cigaret is seen giving advice to Hosteen Tso about the ways to improve his health. When she returns back to Tso after preparing herself with the advice, she finds him dead along with her niece. With the initial investigation, the motive behind the killings and the killer are not found. Lieutenant Leaphorn is shown returning from a ceremony along with a man who had escaped earlier. He is approached by a speeding car, that slows down and waits for him to get down. As soon as Leaphorn comes out of his car, the driver tries to kill him, but Leaphorn somehow manages to get away in time. Leaphorn sees that the driver had black hair, was wearing gold glasses, and had a dog seated at the back. Following this incident, Leaphorn visits the Tso hogan, where he sees Benjamin Tso reciting Catholic mass.

The next thing he does is to go and talk to Margaret Cigaret about what had happened on the day Hosteen Tso got killed. He comes to about a theft case that had happened some years back in an armored car by the Buffalo Society members in Santa Fe. For learning more about the case, Leaphorn decides to visit the Alburquerque office of the FBI. From the case, he comes to know about Hoski and Tull, and the many aliases of Hoski. Then, based on the sitting position of Margaret Cigaret, Leaphorn deduces the fact that the killer might have come from the canyon. Also, he the murderer comes to strike again from the canyon, then he will find Theodora and Benjamin Tso in the hogan. He quickly drives to the hogan, but does not find anyone there. Leaphorn some prints of dog paw there and spends the next 30 hours harrowing in the caves. In the next sequence, Leaphorn is seen trying to escape from the attack of the dog and the men over there. He finds John Tull and the driver who tried to kill him over there. While running away from the dog a dynamite blast takes place that blocks the entrance of the cave. Later, he kills the dog, but finds himself trapped inside. While searching for an escape route, he comes across Benjamin Tso, whose arms and legs were tied by the men. By taking a good look of the entire cave, Leaphorn realizes that the cave is actually a hiding place of the men who killed Hosteen Tso and kidnapped Father Benjamin. Later, he finds many other hostages in the cave who were taken in by the members of the Buffalo Society. Lieutenant Leaphorn makes a plan to save all the hostages and kill the kidnappers. He blows the dynamite that kills the two men and manages to escape with all the hostages. An army helicopter comes to their rescue. However, he is not able to save Father Benjamin, who gets killed in the ambush with the kidnappers. After reaching back to the police station, Leaphorn hands over all the evidences that show the motive behind all the killings of Hoski.

Another initial novel in the Leaphorn & Chee series was published under the title ‘People of Darkness’. This book was released by the HarperTorch publishers in the year 1980. The important characters depicted in this book include Jim Chee, B.J. Vines, and Mary Landon. This is the first book of the series that features the character of Officer Jim Chee. Author Tony Hillerman has done the setting of the story in New Mexico, where Chee holds a position at the NM office of the Tribal Police of Navajo. The story shows that new crimes take place around a rich white man along with a few Navajos, helping them to support the proceedings of their church. The white man becomes richer due to the uranium business. As the story progresses, Jim Chee is seen trying to find the answers a few questions that arise out of some case in which he is involved. He wonders why would someone kill a dying man and why would someone try to steal a box full of rocks. What is even more shocking is that fact that the wife of the rich seems willing to pat $3,000 for getting the box of rocks back. Officer Chee keeps getting haunted by these questions as his journey takes him to the scorching southwest. When he reaches the Bad Country, an assassin waits for him to come looking for the answers and have an encounter with him. The assassin seems willing to save a vision of death, which was fed by greed for more than a 30 years and was washed in the blood.

Book Series In Order » Characters » Leaphorn & Chee

2 Responses to “Leaphorn & Chee”

  1. Barbara Walker: 2 years ago

    What is the name of the woman who was Jim Chee’s girlfriend until she decided to practice law in Washington DC instead of returning to the res?

    • Graeme: 2 years ago

      Janet Pete, I believe.


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