|Pop Culture Gadabout|
Tuesday, October 28, 2008 |
( 10/28/2008 07:10:00 AM ) Bill S.
HILLERMAN: Saddened to read about the death of New Mexico mystery novelist Tony Hillerman, author of a series of evocative mysteries set in the Four Corners area. Centering on the two Navajo tribal policemen Jim Chee and Joe Leaphorn, Hillerman's novels initially featured the two characters as single detectives in each book. But when he teamed the two up in 1986's Skinwalkers, he hit pay dirt. The two characters played against each other beautifully - the older, more secular Leaphorn and the mystically centered Chee - and Hillerman played with their differing points of view to enhance his mysteries. The Chee/Leaphorn books are as much stories about culture conflict as they are detective fiction, and Hillerman was adept at delineating this clash. Even when the mysteries were slight - as they sometimes could be - his heroes' distinct takes on things carried the books.
Several of Hillerman's mysteries were adapted into TV movies that were first aired on PBS: I wrote about two of 'em (Skinwalkers and Thief of Time) when they first aired.