The Listening Woman, Margaret Cigaret, is a shaman who talks to those who need healing, meditates and then prescribes a Sing or Way to help cure them. When she is meditating about Hosteen Tso, both he and her young assistant are murdered. Luckily the killer didn’t see Margaret and given that she was meditating (and is blind) she was unable to provide any help to the police. Several months later, a man wearing Goldrims tries to run over Lt. Joe Leaphorn of the Navajo Tribal Police. As he investigates he finds references to the Listening Woman case, an old stolen helicopter and a boy scout troop visiting the area.
Leaphorn is a great character. Slowly, as we learn more about him, we are getting to know his personality. His need for order and precision along with his almost unmatched tracking ability. I enjoy reading this series because of him.
On the other hand, I’ve found that the stories themselves aren’t quite clicking with me as a reader. Book 2’s mystery was a little too simple. And while I felt the story was stronger in book 3, there was still something missing. Certain plot points were drawn out over several pages and in one case several chapters (which I understand – he was trying to build tension) but others were glossed over too quickly in just a few paragraphs. I would have preferred a more consistent writing style and, if need be, a longer book to fully flesh out those scenes.
I guess I feel like Hillerman hadn’t yet matured as a writer when this was published. My hope is to continue to see growth as the series progresses.
Even considering my issues with the writing, I would still recommend this series to anyone who enjoys mysteries or Native American literature. 3.5/5 stars.