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Kirkus ReviewsLegendary Lt. Joe Leaphorn has finally retired from the Navajo Tribal Police, but that doesn't keep him away when a skeleton is found on a remote ledge of the spectacular 1700-foot- high Shiprock, a mountain sacred to the Navajo. Leaphorn tells Acting Lt. Jim Chee that the skeleton could be the remains of Harold Breedlove, the ranching heir who went missing during a trip he and his wife Elisa were taking in the area 11 years ago, days after the 30th birthday that brought him into the proceeds of his family trust fund. It's not easy for Chee to focus on the case, since his boss, under pressure from New Mexico brand inspector Dick Pfaff to catch the cattle rustler Pfaff calls Zorro, is more interested in Chee's checking the Breedlove spread—now run by Elisa's tree-hugging brother Eldon DeWitt—for stolen livestock. But the shooting of elderly Amos Nez, the Breedloves' guide on their fatal trip, convinces Leaphorn and Chee that the old case has suddenly roared to life—a hunch that's confirmed when Leaphorn is hired by Breedlove family attorney John McDermott (who just happens to be the treacherous former mentor and lover of Chee's fiancée Janet Pete) to investigate Breedlove's death, and the owner of the land around Shiprock is gunned down before Chee can talk to him. It'll take the combined ingenuity of irascible Leaphorn and contemplative Chee to spot the clue Leaphorn missed a decade ago—and their combined wisdom to figure out what to do with their knowledge.
The autumnal 12th entry in this distinguished series is less complex and energetic than Sacred Clowns (1993), but Hillerman's legion of fans, impatient for a return to the reservation ever since the author's Vietnam novel, Finding Moon (1995), will likely find it irresistible.