Customer Reviews for

The Shape Shifter (Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee Series #18)

Average Rating 3.5
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

As always, a pure joy to read! I loved it!

I've read a few of the other reviews, and felt I needed to put in my 2 cents. I read purely for enjoyment, not to critique the plot, or the characters. As far as I am concerned, this is another terrific story in the Joe Leaphorn/Jim Chee series by Tony Hillerman. Joe...
I've read a few of the other reviews, and felt I needed to put in my 2 cents. I read purely for enjoyment, not to critique the plot, or the characters. As far as I am concerned, this is another terrific story in the Joe Leaphorn/Jim Chee series by Tony Hillerman. Joe is a retired Navajo Tribal Police Lieutenant, who over the past few years since retirement has found several puzzles to keep him occupied. The latest is a photo sent to him by his friend Mel Bork of an old Navajo rug that is up for auction. Problem is, the rug was burned long ago in a fire, the same fire that killed a criminal Joe was after. It's a case that was never solved, and when Mel Bork disappears, Joe digs into it once again. As always, there is a wealth of cultural information, especially regarding the shapeshifter legends, and the usual breathtaking scenery that Tony paints so well in the imagination.

posted by Anonymous on November 29, 2007

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Most Helpful Critical Review

1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

Yet another disappointment from Tony Hillerman

After reading Tony Hillerman's latest effort, The Shape Shifter, it's hard to believe this is the work of the same author who gave us such compelling mysteries as The Blessing Way, People of Darkness, and Listening Woman. Once again, Hillerman has given us not a myster...
After reading Tony Hillerman's latest effort, The Shape Shifter, it's hard to believe this is the work of the same author who gave us such compelling mysteries as The Blessing Way, People of Darkness, and Listening Woman. Once again, Hillerman has given us not a mystery--readers will figure out everything in the first third of the book--but another white-man adventure set in Indian Country. Underlying the story is the author's attempt to educate the reader about the parallels of the infamous Long March of the Navajos and the sad fate of the Laotian Hmong. As background, the material is interesting, but the narrative on the Hmong runs on to the point where it breaks the pace of the story. To say that the plot is predictable is an understatement. Hillerman's last five Leaphorn-Chee novels have all been weakly plotted adventures rather than mysteries--the loss, I'm afraid, is ours. And to add to the disappointment, both the author and his editor display some carelessness: Joe Leaphorn, as fans of the series know, lives in Window Rock, Arizona, the Navajo capital. In this book, he arrives at his Window Rock home early on (page 17), but subsequently, his domicile is identified as Shiprock, which is a town in New Mexico a hundred miles away. Which is it, Tony?

posted by Anonymous on December 10, 2006

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 29, 2007

    As always, a pure joy to read! I loved it!

    I've read a few of the other reviews, and felt I needed to put in my 2 cents. I read purely for enjoyment, not to critique the plot, or the characters. As far as I am concerned, this is another terrific story in the Joe Leaphorn/Jim Chee series by Tony Hillerman. Joe is a retired Navajo Tribal Police Lieutenant, who over the past few years since retirement has found several puzzles to keep him occupied. The latest is a photo sent to him by his friend Mel Bork of an old Navajo rug that is up for auction. Problem is, the rug was burned long ago in a fire, the same fire that killed a criminal Joe was after. It's a case that was never solved, and when Mel Bork disappears, Joe digs into it once again. As always, there is a wealth of cultural information, especially regarding the shapeshifter legends, and the usual breathtaking scenery that Tony paints so well in the imagination.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 13, 2006

    RICH IN INDIAN LORE - SPICED WITH MYSTERY

    The transformation myth is very much a part of Native American culture. As retired Navajo tribal policeman Joe Leaphorn describes it there is a name for their worst kind of witches: `One version translates into English as skinwalkers. Another version comes out as shape shifters.' Officer Jim Chee remembers the time he was told about sheep being bothered by a shape shifter, a wolf, who quickly turned into an owl and flew away. Evidently, shape shifters can even turn themselves into inanimate objects. A description of this myth is the springboard for the latest story of mystery and murder by renowned author Tony Hillerman. This is his 18th Leaphorn/Chee mystery and it's a dandy. Leaphorn receives a clipping from an upscale magazine, Luxury Living. It is a photo of a Navajo rug, an unmistakable one that was supposedly destroyed in a fire long ago. The same fire that took the life of a wanted criminal. It's an old case for Leaphorn, one that was never solved. Who sent the clipping? Mel Bork, another retired policeman, who begins to investigate the case and then suddenly disappears. The rug is pictured in the home of a wealthy investment banker. But, how could a rug that was burned beyond any hope of repair reappear in what seems to be pristine condition? Pure Hillerman - pure reading pleasure. - Gail Cooke

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 10, 2006

    Yet another disappointment from Tony Hillerman

    After reading Tony Hillerman's latest effort, The Shape Shifter, it's hard to believe this is the work of the same author who gave us such compelling mysteries as The Blessing Way, People of Darkness, and Listening Woman. Once again, Hillerman has given us not a mystery--readers will figure out everything in the first third of the book--but another white-man adventure set in Indian Country. Underlying the story is the author's attempt to educate the reader about the parallels of the infamous Long March of the Navajos and the sad fate of the Laotian Hmong. As background, the material is interesting, but the narrative on the Hmong runs on to the point where it breaks the pace of the story. To say that the plot is predictable is an understatement. Hillerman's last five Leaphorn-Chee novels have all been weakly plotted adventures rather than mysteries--the loss, I'm afraid, is ours. And to add to the disappointment, both the author and his editor display some carelessness: Joe Leaphorn, as fans of the series know, lives in Window Rock, Arizona, the Navajo capital. In this book, he arrives at his Window Rock home early on (page 17), but subsequently, his domicile is identified as Shiprock, which is a town in New Mexico a hundred miles away. Which is it, Tony?

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 16, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Leaphorn rocks!

    in true Hillerman style, Joe Leaphorn works his way through a mystery & resolves things the "Injun" way!

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  • Posted August 21, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Repetitive

    CD/Abridged/Mystery: This was the second Joe Leaphorn mystery. In this one, Joe Leaphorn, retired, tries to settle an old mystery that has been bothering him since his rookie days. I could recite you Leaphorn's theory of the crime, since he repeats the pinion sap theory numerous times. It does become very repetitive by the fourth or fifth time. You do feel for Leaphorn. He is in his second month or so of retirement and he is bored. It was likeable and listenable, but I really don't recommend it.

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  • Posted March 28, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Better Than Expected

    I put off buying and reading this book for several years. I felt The Sinister Pig and Skeleton Man were subpar efforts by an aging writer. I was suprised to find that this book was a comeback of sorts. A few things did bother me. In the long running series Joe Leaphorn has been retired since 1996's the Fallen Man, yet here he seems to have left the Navajo police in the last month or so. But the fact that, for one last time, Tony Hillerman was able to return to form allowed me to forgive that and the fact there was little real mystery to the plot. If there are no more Leaphorn-Chee novels in the pipeline, this will be an honorable coda.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 5, 2009

    Typical Leaphorn & Chee adventure

    Amazing knowledge of the area.

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  • Posted February 2, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    A reviewer

    Chosen a Golden Voice for outstanding narration actor George Guidall is a versatile performer, he's read everything from humor to dark Russian classics. Very much at ease in bringing Hillerman's characters to life, he delivers this story almost laconically thus allowing the author's words to take center stage. The transformation myth is very much a part of Native American culture. As retired Navajo tribal policeman Joe Leaphorn describes it there is a name for their worst kind of witches: `One version translates into English as skinwalkers. Another version comes out as shape shifters.' Officer Jim Chee remembers the time he was told about sheep being bothered by a shape shifter, a wolf, who quickly turned into an owl and flew away. Evidently, shape shifters can even turn themselves into inanimate objects. A description of this myth is the springboard for the latest story of mystery and murder by renowned author Tony Hillerman. This is his 18th Leaphorn/Chee mystery and it's a dandy. Leaphorn receives a clipping from an upscale magazine, Luxury Living. It is a photo of a Navajo rug, an unmistakable one that was supposedly destroyed in a fire long ago. The same fire that took the life of a wanted criminal. It's an old case for Leaphorn, one that was never solved. Who sent the clipping? Mel Bork, another retired policeman, who begins to investigate the case and then suddenly disappears. The rug is pictured in the home of a wealthy investment banker. But, how could a rug that was burned beyond any hope of repair reappear in what seems to be pristine condition? Pure Hillerman - pure listening pleasure. Highly recommended! - Gail Cooke

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 19, 2007

    Slipping, slipping....

    Hillerman had me hooked on the earlier Leaphorn/Chee mysteries, but the last few have been getting thinner and thinner on plot, suspense and character development. I'm sure his 'formula' is making money, but it's not generating good mysteries. Janet Evanovich seems to be heading in the same direction....

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 19, 2007

    Good story line!

    Classic Leaphorn but I missed Chee's involvement. Too much complainig about getting old but a good solid mystery in typical Navajo fashion! Its hard for me to not like a book about the Navajo Nation.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 23, 2006

    Retired Navajo Cop Joe Leaphorn is (Mostly) on His Own Solving a Cold Case File in `The Shape Shifter¿

    By David M. Kinchen An intriguing letter from a retired cop draws retired Navajo Tribal Police Officer Lt. Joe Leaphorn back into the crime-solving game in Tony Hillerman¿s 18th Leaphorn/Chee procedural ¿The Shape Shifter¿ (HarperCollins, 288 pages, $26.95). As a big fan of Hillerman¿s who has been to the area in question on a number of occasions, I was delighted to see the return of Leaphorn (his last appearance was in 2004¿s ¿Skeleton Man¿). In his letter from Flagstaff, Arizona to Joe in Shiprock, NM -- the Navajo Reservation sprawls over Arizona, New Mexico and Utah in the Four Corners area where the three states ¿ and Colorado -- come together ¿ Melvin Bork includes a photo from a glossy lifestyle magazine showing a one-of-a-kind Navajo tale-telling rug that everybody believes had been destroyed in a trading post fire years before. Leaphorn is often called on, even in retirement, to help solve crimes ¿ this was the case in ¿Skeleton Man¿ -- but this one is special since it involves an elderly Navajo woman, two buckets of pinyon tree sap that may have a connection with the fire, the missing rug and a mysterious rich man named Jason Delos, living in an estate on the foothills north of Flagstaff who may or may not possess the rug. Joe Leaphorn was a young cop when the pinyon tree sap was stolen and he never found the thief, much to the disgust of the elderly lady, who is still alive. The sap is used by Navajo craft people to waterproof their woven baskets. Leaphorn, a widower bored with retirement, hops in his pickup and scouts out the territory with a cop he knows in Flagstaff, Sgt. Kelly Garcia, with the Coconino County Sheriff¿s Department, before going on to visit Bork. He then gets a call from Mrs. Grace Bork, saying that her husband has gone missing on his way to talk to Delos or returning from a visit to him. Sgt. Jim Chee, Leaphorn¿s protégé, has just returned from his Hawaii honeymoon after marrying Bernadette Manuelito, also a member of the tribal police force. Leaphorn is a little hesitant about enlisting the aid of the newly weds, but Bernadette is eager to get back to work and she and Chee make some official phone calls for their old boss. Is Jason Delos the ¿shape shifter¿ in this procedural which takes us on a tour of the Four Corners area, much of it on ¿Diné Bikéyah,¿ or Navajoland, which covers 27,000 square miles, bigger than West Virginia and 9 other states? In Navajo lore, a ¿shape shifter¿ or ¿skinwalker¿ is a creature who can change shape, gender or species to deceive his enemies or those pursuing him. It¿s a common theme in other cultures (see web site reference at the end of this review). Leaphorn visits Delos to check out the rug and to find out what happened to his friend Melvin Bork, another Western ¿country cop¿ he met at the FBI Academy in Virginia and who after his retirement as a cop became a private investigator in Flagstaff, the metropolis of northern Arizona. Investment banker Delos has a young manservant named Tommy Vang, a Hmong refugee from Laos whom Delos, supposedly a CIA agent, rescued. The Hmong are indigenous peoples who¿ve been hiding from the Vietnamese and Lao military ever since they helped the American forces in what has been called the ¿secret war¿ in Indochina in the 1960s and 1970s. Many of them have moved to the U.S., especially to Minnesota and Wisconsin. Since the plot is involved and vital to the story, I will go no further, other than to say that Joe Leaphorn combines the best of his Dineh (Navajo) heritage, as well as modern detection skills. Plus he¿s always ready for a good cup of coffee ¿ a man after my own heart! On a trip to California a few years ago via Interstate 40, I stopped for a coffee and a burger at a fast-food restaurant in Winslow, AZ (yes, the same town made famous in the Eagles¿ song ¿Take It Easy¿!). In the parking lot was a Dodge Ramcharger, I believe (it could have been a Ford Bronco) emblazoned with the lettering ¿N

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    a reviewer

    Though retired from the Navajo Tribal Police force, former Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn occasionally helps out his former peers when they ask him to investigate unusually difficult cases. This time it is Joe initiating the inquiry. --- He visits his friends newlyweds Jim Chee and Bernie Manuelito just back from their honeymoon to get their opinion on a cold case that he and his former FBI partner Mel Bork investigated. Mel sent Joe a page from a magazine Luxury Living that contained a picture with an ancient hand weaved rug that looks like the one that was reported destroyed in an arson fire at Totter¿s Trading Post. That blaze allegedly took the life of an FBI most wanted killer Totter recently was reported dead and buried in a VA cemetery, but that proved false. His efforts to contact Bork fail and soon Joe learns his friend has been murdered he assumes he is also on a diabolical killer¿s list to eliminate potential witnesses who could identify him. Jim and Bernie insist on joining Joe in going after the predator. --- Grandmaster Tony Hillerman is at his best with this excellent thriller that ties several seemingly unrelated subplots (beyond just what is above) into a cohesive cat and mouse tale that never slows down from the moment Joe meets with the honeymooners. The action-packed story line is filled with twists that will surprise readers yet are plausible as Joe struggles with Granny¿s stolen buckets, FBI, Vietnam War, arson, murder and being the rodent in a game orchestrated by a clever leopard who can change spots. The climax will add to Mr. Hillerman¿s reputation as one of the all time mystery writing greats. --- Harriet Klausner

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    Posted August 15, 2009

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    Posted October 23, 2010

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    Posted November 18, 2008

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    Posted May 31, 2011

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    Posted June 28, 2010

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    Posted December 30, 2010

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    Posted February 19, 2010

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    Posted December 27, 2009

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