Cover image for The wailing wind
The wailing wind
Hillerman, Tony.
Personal Author:
First Harper large print edition.
Publication Information:
New York : HarperLargePrint, [2002]

Physical Description:
307 pages (large print) : map ; 23 cm
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Format :


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X Adult Large Print Large Print
X Adult Large Print Large Print
X Adult Large Print Large Print

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To Officer Bernadette Manuelito, the man curled up on the truck seat was just another drunk, which got Bernie in trouble for mishandling a crime scene, which got Sergeant Jim Chee in trouble with the FBI, which drew Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn out of retirement and back into the old "Golden Calf mine" homicide, a case which he had hoped to forget.

Legends of the area's lost gold mines join the mountains and canyons of the Navajo Reservation as an important part of Hillerman's plot, but this tale turns on an obsessive love and the sound of a missing woman's voice in the wind wailing around the long-abandoned Wingate Ordnance Depot. This is an evocative novel by a master at the top of his form.

Author Notes

Tony Hillerman was born in Sacred Heart, Oklahoma on May 27, 1925. During World War II, he enlisted in the Army and was awarded the Silver Star, the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart after being severely injured during a raid behind German lines. He received a bachelor's degree from the University of Oklahoma in 1948.

From 1948 to 1962, he covered crime and politics for newspapers in Texas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico, eventually working his way up to the position of editor of the Santa Fe New Mexican. He taught at the University of Mexico and went on to chair the journalism department for more than 20 years. He retired in 1985.

His first novel, The Blessing Way, was published in 1971. During his lifetime, he wrote 29 books, including the popular 18-book mystery series featuring Navajo police officers Jim Chee and Joe Leaphorn, two non-series novels, two children's books, and nonfiction works. He received numerous awards during his lifetime including the Edgar Allan Poe Award for Best Mystery Novel for Dance Hall of the Dead in 1974, the Western Writers of America's Golden Spur Award for Skinwalkers in 1987, the Mystery Writers of America's Grand Master Award in 1991, the Navajo tribe's Special Friend Award, France 's Grand Prix de Litterature Policiere, the 2002 Malice Domestic Lifetime Achievement Award, the Agatha Award for Best Nonfiction Book for Seldom Disappointed, and the Wister Award for Lifetime achievement in 2008. He died from pulmonary failure on October 26, 2008 at the age of 83.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 4

Booklist Review

The return of Leaphorn and Chee of the Navajo Tribal Police in Four Corners Country is cause for rejoicing. Sergeant Jim Chee lures his old boss, Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn, out of retirement with news of a murder that reaches back to an unsolved mystery that has long haunted both Chee and Leaphorn. Officer Bernadette Manuslito, a Tribal Police rookie and one of the most satisfyingly human woman cops in current fiction, discovers a body in a parked car. Manuslito is traditional Navajo and fears contamination from the spirit lingering near the corpse. She leaves the crime scene unprocessed and is criticized for mishandling evidence, leaving her boss and romantic interest Chee to cover her tracks. A document found later on the body is the link to Leaphorn and Chee's old case, which involves a murder and a disappearance tied to a legendary lost gold mine. The Navajo, according to Hillerman, view gold as a substance that drives white men crazy. This tale of rabid questing for an iffy gold source bears out this belief. It also has the heady Hillerman mix of goofy stationhouse politics, rich depiction of Navajo customs, evocative landscape, and prose that can move from comedy to terror in a split second. Hillerman invented the Native American mystery, widely practiced now, but nobody does it better. Connie Fletcher.

Publisher's Weekly Review

The 15th Chee/Leaphorn mystery (after 1999's relatively weak Hunting Badger) finds MWA Grand Master Hillerman back at the top of his form as his two Navajo peace officers look into both a past and present mystery. Religious fervency and single-minded greed become strange but necessary bedfellows in a plot filled, as always, with insights into the lives and beliefs of the "Dineh." When an abandoned pickup truck turns out to contain one very dead white man, Sgt. Jim Chee's instincts lead him to bring retired Lt. Joe Leaphorn into the case. Leaphorn's trademark curiosity sends him in search of possible links between this homicide and another two years earlier. The first murder occurred on Halloween day when Wiley Denton supposedly shot Marvin McKay in self-defense after McKay tried to sell him bogus information about an old gold mine. That same day Denton's wife, Linda, disappeared; she has never been heard from again. Leaphorn's recollection of what had been shrugged off as a Halloween prank out at old Fort Wingate now becomes the itch he has to scratch. It seems a group of teens shortcutting across the area had endured a close call with La Llorana, a mythical wailing woman. The information he gathers adds yet another piece to the puzzle of the missing Linda. Chee is up to his elbows in not only the investigation but also in sorting through his growing emotional confusion about the beautiful Bernadette Manuelito. The seemingly insignificant turns critical and the loose ends tie up in one tidy conclusion as Hillerman repeatedly shines in this masterfully complex new novel. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Navajo tribal peace officer Jim Chee and retired lieutenant Joe Leaphorn return in Hillerman's 16th "Four Corners" mystery. Rookie officer Bernadette Manuelito investigates an abandoned truck in a remote gulch and finds a corpse inside. Her Navajo belief in malicious spirits leads to a botched crime scene investigation. Meanwhile, Joe accepts a job hunting for the missing wife of a wealthy mining tycoon. A document found on the murder victim's body links it to a legendary gold mine and the missing wife. The two crime threads weave their way toward a solution with plenty of scenic color and Navajo lore. Although earlier Chee/Leaphorn mysteries provide interesting character background for novice listeners, Hillerman veterans will especially appreciate the tender progress of Jim and Bernadette's romance. George Guidall's familiar voice completes this program; recommended where Hillerman is popular.-Sandy Glover, West Linn P.L., OR (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

School Library Journal Review

Adult/High School-Young Officer Bernadette Manuelito of the Navajo Tribal Police is pursuing routine duties when the dispatcher asks her to check out an abandoned truck in an arroyo. Bernie is no longer "the greenest rookie," but when she finds a murder victim she is inexperienced enough to make a big mistake. Still, her interest in botany leads her to collect some plant specimens at the crime scene, and they prove to be important clues. FBI agents soon take over the investigation; they are oblivious to any nuance of place or culture that could lead them to a solution. Sergeant Jim Chee, Bernie's supervisor, characteristically goes his own way. Meanwhile, Wiley Denton, a rich eccentric, has asked retired Lt. Joe Leaphorn to find his missing wife. The investigators set out in different directions, and the distances between them seem as vast and lonely as the New Mexico landscape. Having the advantage of following all three main characters, readers soon know where they are headed; the interest and suspense lie in seeing how these quirky and likable people occasionally glance off one another and exchange crucial information. Finally, Chee, Manuelito, and Leaphorn converge to see the whole picture. Hillerman's fans will enjoy revisiting these characters and their world, but newcomers will miss a lot, and would be better advised to read the earlier stories first.-Christine C. Menefee, Fairfax County Public Library, VA(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



The Wailing Wind Chapter One Officer Bernadette Manuelito had been having a busy day, enjoying most of it, and no longer feeling like the greenest rookie of the Navajo Tribal Police. She had served the warrant to Desmond Nakai at the Cudai Chapter House, following her policy of getting the most unpleasant jobs out of the way first. Nakai had actually been at the chapter house, obviating the hunt for him she'd expected, and--contrary to predictions of Captain Largo--he had been pleasant about it. She had dropped down to the Beclabito Day School to investigate a reported break-in there. That was nothing much. A temp maintenance employee had overdone his weekend drinking, couldn't wait until Monday to get a jacket he'd left behind, broke a window, climbed in and retrieved it. He agreed to pay for the damages. The dispatcher then contacted her and canceled her long drive to the Sweetwater Chapter House. That made Red Valley next on her list of stops. "And Bernie," the dispatcher said, "when you're done at Red Valley, here's another one for you. Fellow called in and said there's a vehicle abandoned up a gulch off that dirt road that runs over to the Cove school. Paleblue king-cab pickup truck. Check the plates. We'll see if it's stolen." "Why didn't you get the license number from the guy reporting it?" Because, the dispatcher explained, the report was from an El Paso Natural Gas pilot who had noticed it while flying yesterday afternoon and again this morning. Too high to read the plates. "But not too high to tell it was abandoned?" "Come on, Bernie," the dispatcher said. "Who leaves a car parked in an arroyo overnight unless he stole it for a joyride?" With that he gave her a little better description of the probable location and said he was sorry to be loading her up. "Sure," said Bernie, "and I'm sorry I sounded so grouchy." The dispatcher was Rudolph Nez, an old-timer who had been the first to accept her, a female, as a fellow cop. A real friend, and she had a feeling he was parceling her out more work to show her he looked on her as a full-fledged officer. Besides, this new assignment gave her a reason to drive up to Roof Butte, about as close as you could drive to ten thousand feet on the Navajo Reservation. The abandoned truck could wait while she took her break there. She sat on a sandstone slab in a mixed growth of aspen and spruce, eating her sack lunch, thinking of Sergeant Jim Chee, and facing north to take advantage of the view. Pastora Peak and the Carrizo Mountains blocked off the Colorado Rockies, and the Lukachukai Forest around her closed off Utah's peaks. But an infinity of New Mexico's empty corner spread below her, and to the left lay the northern half of Arizona. This immensity, dappled with cloud shadows and punctuated with assorted mountain peaks, was enough to lift the human spirit. At least it did for Bernie. So did remembering the day when she was a brand-new rookie recruit in the Navajo Tribal Police and Jim Chee had stopped here to show her his favorite view of the Navajo Nation. That day a thunderstorm was building its cloud towers over Chaco Mesa miles to the northeast and another was taking shape near Tsoodzil, the Turquoise Mountain of the East. But the rolling grassland below them was bright under the afternoon sun. Chee had pointed to a little gray column of dirt and debris moving erratically over the fields across Highway 66. "Dust devil," she had said, and it was then she had her first glimpse behind Chee's police badge. "Dust devil," he repeated, thoughtfully. "Yes. We have the same idea. I was taught to see in those nasty little twisters the Hard Flint Boys struggling with the Wind Children. The good yei bringing us cool breezes and pushing the rain over grazing land. The bad yei putting evil into the wind." She finished her thermos of coffee, trying to decide what to do about Chee. If anything. She still hadn't come to any conclusions, but her mother seemed to have deemed him acceptable. "This Mr. Chee," she'd said. "I heard he's born to the Slow Talking Dineh, and his daddy was a Bitter Water." That remark had come apropos of absolutely nothing, and her mother hadn't expanded on it. Nor did she need to. It meant her mother had been asking around, and had satisfied herself that since Bernie was born to the Ashjjhi Dineh, and for Bead People, none of the Navajo incest taboos were at risk if Bernie smiled at Chee. Smiling was as far as it had gone, and maybe as far as she wanted it to go. Jim Chee was proving hard to understand. But she was still thinking about him when she pulled her patrol car up the third little wash north of Cove and saw the sun glinting off the back window of a truck-pale blue as described and blocking the narrow track up the bottom of the dry wash. New Mexico plates. Bernie jotted down the numbers. She stepped out of her car, walked up the wash, noticing the vehicle's windows were open. And stopped. A rifle was in the rack across the back window. Who would walk off and leave that to be stolen? "Hello," Bernie shouted, and waited. "Hey. Anyone home?" And waited again. No answer. She unsnapped the flap on her holster, touched the butt of the pistol, and moved silently to the passenger-side door. A man wearing jeans and a jean jacket was lying on his side on the front seat, head against the driver-side door, a red gimme cap covering most of his face, knees drawn up a little. Sleeping one off, thought... The Wailing Wind . Copyright © by Tony Hillerman. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold. Excerpted from The Wailing Wind by Tony Hillerman All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.