Talking God

by Tony Hillerman

Hardcover, 1989

Call number





Harper & Row (1989), Edition: 1st, 239 pages


Fiction. Literature. Mystery. HTML: Reunited by a grave robber and a corpse, Navajo Tribal Police Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn is trying to determine the identity of a murder victim, while Officer Jim Chee is arresting Smithsonian conservator Henry Highhawk for ransacking the sacred bones of his ancestors. But with each peeled-back layer, it becomes shockingly clear that these two cases are mysteriously connected �?? and that others are pusuing Highhawk, with lethal intentions. And the search for answers to a deadly puzzle is pulling Leaphorn and Chee into the perilous arena of superstition, ancient ceremony, and living gods.

User reviews

LibraryThing member tjsjohanna
This mystery has lots of twists and turns and is definitely plot driven. Much of the action takes place in Washington, DC which was a nice change of pace, as well. Some interesting exploration of the clash of culture.
LibraryThing member iayork
Don't Start Here (If You've Never Read Hillerman, That Is): Hillerman has carved out his own niche in the American mystery genre, that of the Southwestern Navajo reservation, and it is one I return to again and again with the confidence of receiving pleasure and edification (Hillerman, not an
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American Indian himself, nevertheless qualifies as a world class expert on the ways and folklore of these people and he renders them beautifully and cogently for his readers). He is no literary mystery novelist on the order of a James Lee Burke or P.D. James or Joseph Hansen, but he is a more than solid storyteller who creates a world unlike that most of us have ever visited. He has his weaknesses - stilted dialogue and often one dimensional characterizations - but they are more than compensated for by Hillerman's uncanny sense of place and pace.With that said, let me warn you not to start with TALKING GOD if you have never read Hillerman, first of all because he uproots his famed protagonists Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee from their normal bailiwick and transplants them in Washington, D.C., as they attempt to unravel more than one mystery that all seem to lead back to Indian burial rituals and illegally unearthed remains and conflict with foreign governments. It's a good book, solid and compelling for the most part and it features a truly frightening villain, maybe Hillerman's best bad guy up to that point, but we miss the "Res" and the natural mystery of its landscape and the wonderful way Hillerman makes it come alive.
So wait on this one and start with DANCE HALL OF THE DEAD or THE BLESSING WAY. TALKING GOD will come as a later treat once you have properly acquainted yourself with the mystery and magic of Hillerman's peculiar world.
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LibraryThing member AlexLux
I read many of Hillerman's books in middle school. When I came across several of them at a yard sale I picked them up to see if they held up. Sadly, they didn't.

The characters are flat and boring. There isn't any real mystery, I feel like I'm waiting for the characters to catch up with me.

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only thing I find interesting is the parts where it details the modern day Indian culture. Those parts kept my attention and where nicely done.
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LibraryThing member ffortsa
Leaphorn and Chee find their way to Washington D.C., on their own time, for different reasons that connect, of course. This story is unusual in Hillerman's work in that it takes place in the east, and that other nationalities are involved. And (this seems to be a theme in my recent reading), the
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reader meets the culprit long before the detectives do. From the Navajo's point of view, the case concerns a dead man near the Amtrak tracks in Navajo country, and an attempt to return Native American remains to proper graves in their homeland. But other forces, other colors are woven into the story.

Hillerman may have been trying to break out of the particular venue and dynamic of the Din'eh with this book. In the end, however, all the Navajos go home. As does the author.
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LibraryThing member bookswoman
Joe Leaphorn is working on a case that involves a dead body found beside the Amtrak rails just outside of Gallup, NM. At the same time Jim Chee is given an outstanding warrant on a white man who is claiming 1/4 Navaho blood, the warrant is for stealing bodies.

Somehow these two very diverse stories
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both end up in Washington, D.C. where Leaphorn and Chee start working together to try and found out how the two cases intertwine. Since neither really believe in coincidence they are sure it isn't accidental.

I did enjoy the two of them working together even if it was off the reservation.

There are plenty of twists and turns to this story and a storyline that ties together two seemingly unrelated cases.

I didn't know who was going to kill whom and I didn't know which side some of the players were on, but it was a lot of fun to follow.

Looking forward to the next in the series.
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LibraryThing member buffalogr
Fast-paced fun. Leaphorn and Chee go to DC, a departure from the Navajo Reservation mysteries we're accustomed to reading form Tony Hillerman. The mystery still exists, but the cache and the genre are missing. Yes, there's some action on the Reservation, but the geography is definitely DC. In the
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end, they get their man and everyone goes home.
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LibraryThing member rosalita
Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee of the Navajo Tribal Police find themselves far from the reservation, in Washington, D.C., following separate leads that converge into one murder case. One of the key plot points is the reigning dictatorship of Pinochet in Chile, giving this one an even more dated feel
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than the other books in the series to date. I didn't enjoy this one as much as the books set among the Navajo Nation, but it's worth reading if you enjoy the series. Here's hoping the next one is back in Navajo country.
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LibraryThing member gmillar
So far, this one of Hillerman's has interested and entertained me the most.
LibraryThing member MrsLee
Lt. Joe Leaphorn and officer Jim Chee follow different trails and end up at the same brushpile. Washington D.C., that is. Now they must work together to find out how the puzzle pieces fit.

Another tried and true author for me, Tony Hillerman tells the story in a laid back way. I can almost feel my
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blood pressure dropping when I read these stories. This in spite of the suspense, danger and mystery. I love the way his characters are grounded in their heritage and the rich details of their lives and beliefs. Hillerman's mysteries are always a pleasure to read.
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LibraryThing member SandyAMcPherson
Jim Chee and Joe Leaphorn (Navajo Tribal Police) have investigations that dovetail. Both end up in Washington, DC and have to cope with federal bureaucracy and the FBI in the big city. Highhawk somewhat came across as a caricature and Leaphorn's murder victim he's trying to identify has an overly
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complex background that complicates the plot. Worth reading if you're a Hillerman fan but start with one of the others if he's a new author for you.
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LibraryThing member m.belljackson
TALKING GOD offers a complicated tale, with more coincidences than Leaphorn might have approved.

It also has few of the descriptions of land that were so beautifully rendered in A THIEF OF TIME -
and shows no clarifying map.

I already miss Leaphorn and Chee - and sure wish Henry Highhawk had been
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around for more sequels.
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LibraryThing member fuzzi
This was my first Hillerman novel and I thoroughly enjoyed it. An activist Navajo wannabe gets arrested for graveyard robbery while an older man is found dead by the railroad tracks, without identifying information including teeth. The story had Native American aspects that I found interesting, the
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characters were believable, and the mystery plausible. I gave it an extra 1/2 star for keeping me up past my bedtime to finish the last 30 or so pages.
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LibraryThing member lbswiener
Talking God is an excellent story. This Leaphorn and Chee novel does not take place on the reservation. So there are no descriptions of the beautiful southwest. This particular book takes place in Washington D.C. It is an interesting location for a story that shows one the wrong ways of the
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"privileged class." The book received five stars in this review because it was a good suspenseful, well written story.
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