Anne Hillerman, the daughter of Tony Hillerman, attempts to carry on the family legacy of her father's outstanding series set in Navajo country. She has written a serviceable mystery, but it is missing the heart and soul of her father’s writing. Tony Hillerman had the ability to immerse the reader in Navajo culture and the Western landscape. Anne Hillerman’s characters don’t come off the page and live with you as they did when her father wrote the series. Anne Hillerman was a reporter and non-fiction writer before she undertook this novel, so she may improve with practice and skilled editorial guidance.
The land is one of the most powerful images in a Tony Hillerman mystery, but daughter Anne wasn’t able to make the area come alive for me. Edward Abbey in Desert Solitaire describes the four corners region: “I sometimes choose to think…that man is a dream, thought an illusion, and only rock is real. Rock and sun.”
“From the ancient dwelling there came always a dignified, unobtrusive sadness; now stronger, now fainter….a voice out of the past, not very loud…went on saying a few simple things to the solitude eternally.”
--Willa Cather, The Song of the Lark, 1915