Sacred Clowns

by Tony Hillerman

Hardcover, 1993

Call number





Harpercollins (1993), Edition: 1st, 305 pages


Fiction. Literature. Mystery. HTML: Don't miss the TV series, Dark Winds, based on the Leaphorn, Chee, & Manuelito novels, now on AMC and AMC+! First there was the trouble at Saint Boneventure boarding school. A teacher is dead, a boy is missing, and a council woman has put a lot of pressure on Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn and Officer Jim Chee to find her grandson. Sitting on a rooftop watching sacred clowns perform their antics in a Pueblo ceremony, Chee spots the boy. Then, suddenly, the crowd is in commotion. One of the clowns has been savagely murdered. Without a single clue, Chee and Leaphorn must follow a serpentine trail through the Indian clans and nations, seeking the thread that links two brutal murders, a missing teenager, a band of lobbyists trying to put a toxic dump site on Pueblo land, and an invaluable memento given to the tribes by Abraham Lincoln in a fast-paced, flawless mystery that is Hillerman at his lyrical, evocative, spellbinding best..… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member MrsLee
Good mystery. Mr. Hillerman writes with a nice balance of suspense, action, mystery and romance. His characters are very human and understandable. These stories are also illuminating about the Southwest culture.
LibraryThing member bastet
This was my first introduction to Hillerman and I'm glad I made the leap.
A fascinating look at Native American culture.I also enjoyed the protagonist--caught between modern Americanism and ancient traditions--quite well.
LibraryThing member keylawk
Author's Note: ..."Tano is not a Hopi village and the descriptions in this book do not represent Hopi religious activities."

Navajo Tribal Police Officers Chee and Lieutenant Leaphorn work, uneasily, together to solve a killing at the mission school and then murder strikes at Tano, seemingly
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outside their jurisdiction. But the two killings seem to be related with the odd behavior of a runaway student. But nothing is what it seems.
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LibraryThing member tjsjohanna
Mr. Hillerman leaves his two main characters, uncharacteristically, in happy personal places at the close of this complicated mystery. Another nice development is watching the beginning of Leaphorn & Chee working together professionally on purpose, instead of by coincidence. The beginnings of the
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friendship that I remembered begin here.
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LibraryThing member iayork
One of the Best: Tony Hillerman is a wonderful author. A Scared Clown is a very outstanding mystery book.
In little town, Shiprock, Officer Chee and Detective Leaphorn discover a human skeleton. Whoever that was, was brutally murdered and it is up to them to crack the mystery. The characters in
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this book are described where you can just picture what they look like and what everything else looks like. The author, Mr. Hillerman, did a good job with imagery. It felt as if I were there with them trying to solve the mystery. The author kept me interested with his diction. I couldn't stop reading the book, I just kept going.
I recommend people to read this book if they are into mystery books, because I know they will feel the same way I did when I opened the book and when I closed the book.
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LibraryThing member ffortsa
Jim Chee has joined Joe Leaphorn as his assistant, still not a sergeant, but he has to solve a hit-and-run to get it. We learn a little (not much) about the Tano tribe, part of the larger Pueblo group in this episode. Besides the hit-and-run to solve, there are a few murders connected to the Tano
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celebration that opens the book and gives us the title. Maybe more important is the developments of the relationships between Jim Chee and Janet Pete, and between Joe Leaphorn and Louisa Bourebonette.

I realized, looking for the spelling of names in the text, that Hillerman uses the women's first names in the narrative way before he uses the men's first names. Chee is always Chee except in dialog, but Janet is Janet almost immediately. It doesn't ruffle me. Just noticing.

Anyway, a good mystery in the series, and I liked the fact that we are finally getting Leaphorn and Chee together (see, even I do it). 4 stars.
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LibraryThing member Nodosaurus
Joe Leaphorn asked Jim Chee to find a runaway schoolkid. During this investigation, he is on the scene of a murder during a Tano ceremony. This murder had similar characteristics to another murder, but they couldn’t be related. Of course all three threads tie together in a fascinating story.

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stories include a hit and run accident. A relationship between Jim Chee and Janet Pete in which Jim has trouble resolving a possible clan violation in their seeing each other. At the same time, Joe Leaphorn is planning a trip to China with Louisa Bourebonette.

Tony Hillerman gives the reader excellent insights into the Navajo culture, especially in the way that Jim Chee resolves his personal issues. Through his investigations, we also get a glimpse into the Tano culture, a branch of the Pueblo tribes.

The book is a very good read, it keeps moving forward and has interesting developments in the mysteries.
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LibraryThing member carolfoisset
Always enjoy Hillerman's books. I find all of the Indian culture information very interesting and the stories are entertaining.
LibraryThing member MorrisE.Graham
Sacred Clowns examines both the Navajo and Hopi cultural and religeons, steeping the murder mystery in a rich cultural tapestry that Hillerman was known for. As always, the story involves the human elements of both Chee and Leaphorn, their love lives and their personal struggles. This has it all..
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mystery, politics, history, intrigue, and yes, two murders to solve.
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LibraryThing member buffalogr
Sacred Clowns examines the Navajo, pueblo and Hopi cultural and religions.There's a hit and run to solve and our heroes get stuck in politics. In the end, all the unrelated cases come together and it all works out--the bad guys are caught. It's fun to watch the unfamiliar logic work itself to the
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ending. The characters and the color are the best parts of this book as they wrestle with personal issues. Next Hillerman?
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LibraryThing member debnance
My first Tony Hillerman mystery. We took it along with us on our trip to New Mexico at the suggestion of some book blogger friends. It was a great suggestion. It took a bit for me to get into the story and I never did really figure it out, but it was filled with wonderful Native American characters
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and it had just a bit of romance and it was full of little bits of Native American information. Yes. Delightful.
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LibraryThing member hailelib
A good Leaphorn/Chee adventure. Hillerman delved into Pueblo culture in this one.
LibraryThing member rosalita
Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee investigate two seemingly unrelated murders: one of a high-school shop teacher on the Navajo Reservation, and the other of a "sacred clown" in the religious traditions of the Tano tribe. The working relationship between Leaphorn and Chee is much improved in this outing,
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although readers who prefer less personal romance mushy-mush and more mystery wham-bam may be disappointed.
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LibraryThing member SandyAMcPherson
This is a re-read for me and still one of the best Hillerman's. I am fully engaged by the novel's balance of suspense, action, and mystery embedded in tribal customs. An irritating flaw in the plot for me is the angst that Chee has in his interactions with Janet Pete. I find that relationship which
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persists through several of the novels utterly tedious. As ever, the author seems intimately connected to the land and the people of the American southwest.
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LibraryThing member lbswiener
Sacred Clowns is an excellent Leaphorn and Chee suspense novel. It takes place in the desolate New Mexico Indian reservations. There is a lot of culture and humor involved with the characters. Tony Hillerman knows how to write an excellent story and Christian Baskous knows how to read it. This book
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received four stars in this review and is highly recommended. Enjoy.
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LibraryThing member danhammang
Great read, classic Hillerman, terrible picture of a Sacred Clown on the cover.
LibraryThing member LyndaInOregon
This early entry into the Leaphorn & Chee series is a major disappointment. It's extremely slow-paced, and through most of the book, it seems that no one has a clue how (or if) two murders are related. Both men are involved in trying to establish tenuous new romantic relationships while also
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figuring out how to work together. There are lots of meaningful silences and long periods of introspection.

Definitely not the best of the series.
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Anthony Award (Nominee — Novel — 1994)
Grand Canyon Reader Award (Nominee — Teen — 1996)




006016767X / 9780060167677
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