Monday, June 29, 2015

Spider Woman's Daughter

Our July mystery book selection is Spider Woman's Daughter by Anne Hillerman.

Spider Woman's Daughter (Navajo Mysteries, #19)

I don't know how I missed this series. For those of you like me, that don't know, Anne Hillerman is the daughter of Tony Hillerman who wrote 18 Leaphorn and Chee novels, among other achievments.
Tony Hillerman passed away in 2008 and his daughter Anne, has picked up the series with Spider Woman's Daughter.


"It happened in an instant: After a breakfast with colleagues, Navajo Nation Police Officer Bernadette Manuelito sees a sedan career into the parking lot and hears a crack of gunfire. When the dust clears, someone very close to her is lying on the asphalt in a pool of blood.
With the victim in the hospital fighting for his life, every person in the squad and the local FBI office is hell-bent on catching the gunman. Bernie, too, wants in on the investigation, despite regulations strictly forbidding eyewitness involvement. Her superior may have ordered her to take some leave, but that doesn't mean she's going to sit idly by, especially when her husband, Sergeant Jim Chee, is put in charge of finding the shooter.
Pooling their skills, Bernie and Chee discover that a cold case involving Chee's former boss and partner, retired lieutenant Joe Leaphorn, may hold the key to the shooting. Digging into the old investigation with discriminating eyes and a fervent urgency, husband and wife find themselves inching closer to the truth with every clue . . . and closer to a killer who will do anything to prevent justice from taking its course."

The story takes place in New Mexico in the Four Corners region. If you have traveled that way, you will recognize several of the towns that are mentioned. But I never saw the land and scenery the way Manuelito and Chee describe it as the story unfolds. This book makes me want to go back there and have a new look.

I read this book pretty quickly, in just a few days. (I think I got my book groove back after that book that did me in). What I loved about this book, is the look into the Navajo customs, traditions and beliefs.  I knew nothing about this culture, apparently.  For instance, one thing I found very interesting, is how the characters would refer to other people. They refer to others by their relationship to them or their Navajo name which came from their personality, life event or a character trait.  Rather than asking about Darlene, Bernie Manuelito's sister, their mother would refer her as" the one who is your sister". Bernie meets Darlene's boyfriend and dubs him with the name "Stoop Boy" because he has poor posture.  Another fascinating tradition is how people who haven't met previously, introduce themselves. They don't say "Hi I am Bernie Manuelito". Each person runs through their lineage for the other person and often identify that they are related or are clansmen. (Being an amateur genealogist, I am so jealous! They get "leaves" just by talking for five minutes.)

And why is it called "Spider Womans' Daughter"? Bernie's mother tells her " You work on a case bit by bit, line my line, and you keep going until you figure out what's what. Spider Woman's daughter, weaving together the threads of time."

There was one thing that put me off at first: an incident involving Leaphorn's cat. Bernie takes his cat to take care of it while he is in the hospital and she LOOSES THE CAT. (Yes I am a cat lover) Not to worry....

The story was excellent but was peppered with so much about the Navajo culture that made it especially interesting to me.

This is a series I will either go back and start with book #1 or at least pick up at the next one; Rock With Wings.

Next up: The Recipient by Dean Mayes.


  1. This bodes well for Wednesday night! I enjoyed it too. And she has a little bit of a different style from her father. You can tell she is a travel writer. Don't get me wrong - I loved Tony Hillerman's books, but I think they are more spare in their narrative.

  2. Thanks Kay. That helps me decide if I will start at the beginning or pick up with the next book. Might be fun to read the first one and compare...