Wednesday, September 12, 2012
Patron Book Review: The Shape Shifter
The Shape Shifter (2006) is an example of Tony Hillerman's ability to tell a fascinating story while weaving into it a discussion of Navajo culture. He introduces Native American traditions, integral to the novel, with the dialog and thoughts of the characters. Hillerman doesn't preach, he just tells, and very well indeed.
Both of his usual protagonists, Joe Leaphorn, the 'legendary lieutenant', and Joe's protege, Sgt. Him Chee, of the Navajo Tribal Police, appearn in The Shape Shifter, but it is principally Leaphorn's story this time. The lieutentant, recently retired, is enticed to investigate an old crime which the FBI considered closed but about which he had lingering doubts.
Inveterate readers of murder mysteries will find themselves anticipating the plot twists but enjoying the novel nonetheless. It is short on surprise and suspense, but long on entertainment and edification.
It isn't Hillerman's best, but I am an unabashed fan of his writing and enjoyed it thoroughly. I would recommend it to anyone who is interested in Native American culture or just enjoys good fiction, but I preferred the author's A Thief of Time, Skinwalkers, Listening Woman, and The Blessing Way.