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The Sinister Pig (Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee Series #16)

The Sinister Pig (Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee Series #16)

3.2 26
by Tony Hillerman

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Sergeant Jim Chee of the Navajo Tribal Police is troubled by the nameless corpse discovered just inside his jurisdiction, at the edge of the Jicarilla Apache natural gas field. More troubling still is the FBI’s insistence that the Bureau take over the case, calling the unidentified victim’s death a “hunting accident.”

But if a hunter was


Sergeant Jim Chee of the Navajo Tribal Police is troubled by the nameless corpse discovered just inside his jurisdiction, at the edge of the Jicarilla Apache natural gas field. More troubling still is the FBI’s insistence that the Bureau take over the case, calling the unidentified victim’s death a “hunting accident.”

But if a hunter was involved, Chee knows the prey was intentionally human. This belief is shared by the “Legendary Lieutenant” Joe Leaphorn, who once again is pulled out of retirement by the possibility of serious wrongs being committed against the Navajo nation by the Washington bureaucracy. Yet it is former policewoman Bernadette Manuelito, recently relocated to the Border Patrol at the U.S.–Mexico line, who possibly holds the key to a fiendishly twisted conspiracy of greed, lies, and murder—and whose only hope for survival now rests in the hands of friends too far away for comfort.

Editorial Reviews

The Barnes & Noble Review
Corruption is the name of the game in this dynamic mystery in New York Times–bestselling author Tony Hillerman's critically acclaimed Joe Leaphorn & Jim Chee series. When a man with two identities is found dead on the Navajo Reservation, it's clear his recent interest in the pipelines on tribal land has proven unhealthy…but no one knows why. Near-legendary retired investigator Joe Leaphorn, tenacious tribal cop Jim Chee, and fledgling Border Patrol officer Bernadette "Bernie" Manuelito each have a piece of the puzzle. The question is, can they put together the whole picture before this complex case turns even more deadly? Like its predecessors, this stellar addition to Hillerman's compelling Southwestern mystery series captures the sophistications of Navajo culture even as it illuminates the dilemmas of a society caught between tradition and the pressures of the "outside world." Sue Stone
This Pig flies
The New York Times
Tony Hillerman was just waiting for someone to invent the Department of Homeland Security. As if the jurisdictional power struggles among the F.B.I., the D.E.A., the Border Patrol, the Department of Land Management and the Navajo Tribal Police were not enough to cripple local law enforcement on the Indian reservations where Hillerman sets his novels, an über-agency like Homeland Security comes along to create total confusion. Hillerman orchestrates the chaos brilliantly in The Sinister Pig, devising a plot that draws all these interested parties to a lonely dirt road in the San Juan Basin in New Mexico (''the very heart of America's version of the Persian Gulf''), where an undercover agent has been murdered while investigating possible criminal sabotage of the oil pipelines. Sgt. Jim Chee of the Navajo police and his retired mentor, Joe Leaphorn, are quick to pick up on the implications for a federal inquiry into some $40 billion in oil revenues that never made it into the Tribal Trust Fund. But the F.B.I. elbows them off the case, and it is left to a rookie, Bernadette Manuelito, working Border Patrol near Mexico, to follow the cynical scheme to its bedrock, allowing Hillerman to tie all three investigative strands together in an extraordinary display of sheer plotting craftsmanship. — Marilyn Stasio
The Washington Post
Having taught us all he can about Native American culture, he lifts his gaze to American culture at large. This relentlessly up-to-date tale is, superficially, an investigation into the murder of an anonymous, well-dressed man found on Navajo land, but Hillerman draws in references to the war on drugs, the war on terrorism, Chandra Levy and embezzled Indian gas and oil royalties. — Ana Marie Cox
Publishers Weekly
Bestseller Hillerman's 16th Chee/ Leaphorn adventure offers deeper intrigue and a tighter plot than his previous entry, The Wailing Wind (2002), in this enduring series. When the body of an undercover agent, who's been looking for clues to the whereabouts of billions of dollars missing from the Tribal Trust Funds, turns up on reservation property near Four Corners, Navajo cop Sgt. Jim Chee and Cowboy Dashee, a Hopi with the Federal Bureau of Land Management, investigate. But the book's real star is officer Bernadette "Bernie" Manuelito, Chee's erstwhile romantic interest, now working in the New Mexico boot heel for the U.S. Border Patrol. The miles have only strengthened her feelings for Chee-and vice versa. A routine patrol puts Bernie on the trail of an operation involving some old oil pipelines that connects to the Four Corners murder. Meanwhile, Joe Leaphorn is checking into the same murder from another direction. The three lines converge on a conspiracy of drugs, greed and power, and those who most profit, including the "sinister pig" of the title, will stop at nothing to keep it a secret. With his usual up-front approach to issues concerning Native Americans such as endlessly overlapping jurisdictions, Hillerman delivers a masterful tale that both entertains and educates. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
As the characters of Jim Chee and Joe Leaphorn become more fully fleshed out with each succeeding book, the plots of Hillerman's popular mysteries get thinner and thinner. This time 'round, the action moves out of Navajo land south to New Mexico's boot heel along the border with Mexico. While searching for illegal immigrants, Bernadette Manuelito, who quit the Navajo Tribal Police to join the Border Patrol, stumbles upon some mysterious activities around a windmill construction site on a game ranch. The photos that she takes and sends to her ex-boss, Jim Chee, may be linked to a murder he is investigating and may throw Bernadette into further danger. Unfortunately, the mystery is not very interesting: there is a ton of dry details about pipelines and very little Navajo lore to add magic to the story, and the villain is a standard cardboard figure. Still, fans of the series will be happy to learn that Chee's frustrated love life may finally be resolved. Buy for demand. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 1/03.]-Wilda Williams, "Library Journal" Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal
Adult/High School-Hillerman masterfully juggles the pieces of a puzzle involving billions of dollars in missing oil royalties owed to Native Americans; the drug war; and a badly fragmented bureaucracy. When a stranger is found murdered on Navajo land, Sergeant Jim Chee of the Tribal Police steps in, but before long the investigation is joined-and muddied-by a plethora of government agencies including the FBI, the U.S. Customs Service, and the Bureau of Land Management, and by Navajo, Hopi, and Apache tribal viewpoints. Help comes from two old friends, the retired Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn and the former Navajo tribal policewoman Bernadette Manuelito, who escaped a stalled relationship with Chee to join the U.S. Border Patrol. The victim had been looking into possible fraud using old oil pipelines (hence "sinister pig," a piece of switching equipment). Meanwhile, another kind of sinister pig, the blue-blooded Rawley Winsor, appears at a private ranch in the area, and through his deep involvement in drug trafficking, Hillerman presents a trenchant perspective on the drug war. Winsor's mistress and his driver, two more colorful characters, add an interesting subplot, as do the prickly Bernie and the bashful Chee, when their attraction is reawakened. The story might sound complicated, but the author breezes through, making it look easy. This outing ventures beyond the Navajo landscape that Hillerman's fans expect, but they-and general readers-should enjoy the broader geographical and social canvas just as well, in this tale of ordinary people unraveling knots of fraud and skulduggery.-Christine C. Menefee, Fairfax County Public Library, VA Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Though you might expect them to have their hands full with rumors of war, Washington powerbrokers seem obsessed these days with whatever’s happening in the big-sky New Mexico territory Hillerman’s long since branded as his own (The Wailing Wind, 2002, etc.). Soon after one D.C. insider equips an ex-CIA agent with identification in the name of Carl Mankin and sends him out west to investigate rumors that somebody’s using a gas pipeline to help avoid payment on part of the staggering $40 billion in royalties the Tribal Trust Fund claims it’s never received from the federal government, a second insider sends somebody else out to gun down the investigator, pocket his shiny new identification, and bury him in a shallow grave. Sgt. Jim Chee of the Navajo Tribal Police, looking on as the FBI snatches the case away from him, is lucky to find out the dead man’s real name. And retired legend Lt. Joe Leaphorn, when Chee hikes out to Window Rock to consult him, does little more than brandish a sheaf of maps showing the locations of gas pipelines from Mexico. It’s Chee’s former officer and lost love Bernadette Manuelito, fleeing the NTP for the Customs Patrol, who comes up with the crucial break on the case quite by accident when she follows a truck into a ranch that’s raising oryxes for self-styled safari hunters and takes one photograph too many. Hillerman Lite, with little mystery about who killed Carl Mankin, or, unless you think Hillerman’s gotten a lot less warmhearted, about what’s going to happen to imperiled Bernie Manuelito.

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee Series , #16
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
4.70(w) x 7.50(h) x 0.80(d)

Read an Excerpt

The Sinister Pig

By Hillerman, Tony


ISBN: 0061098787

Chapter One

David Slate reached across the tiny table in Bistro Bis and handed an envelope to the graying man with the stiff burr haircut.

"You are now Carl Mankin," Slate said. "You are newly retired from the Central Intelligence Agency. You are currently employed as a consultant for Seamless Weld. Along with your new credit card, Carl, that envelope holds a lot of authentic-looking stuff from Seamless. Business cards, expense account forms -- that sort of material. But the credit card should cover any expenses."

"Carl Mankin," the burr-haired man said, inspecting the card. "And a Visa card. 'Carl Mankin' should be easy to remember. And by next Tuesday, I actually will be newly retired from the CIA." He was older than middle age, well past sixty, but trim, sunburned, and young looking. He sorted through the papers from the envelope and smiled at Slate. "However, I don't seem to find a contract in here," he said.

Slate laughed. "And I'll bet you didn't expect to find one, either. The senator works on the old-fashioned 'gentlemen's agreement' contract. You know, 'Your word's as good as your bond.' That sounds odd here in Washington these days, but some of the old-timers still like to pretend there is honor alive among the political thieves."

"Remind me of what that word is, then," the new Carl Mankin said. "As I remember it, you buy my time for thirty days, or until the job is done. Or failing that, I tell you it can't be done. And the pay is fifty thousand dollars, either way it works out."

"And expenses," Slate said. "But the credit card should cover that unless you're paying somebody to tell you something." He chuckled. "Somebody who doesn't accept a Visa card."

Carl Mankin put everything back into the envelope, and the envelope on the table beside his salad plate. "Who actually pays the credit card bill? I noticed my Carl Mankin address is in El Paso, Texas."

"That's the office of Seamless Weld," Slate said. "The outfit you're working for."

"The senator owns it? That doesn't sound likely."

"It isn't likely. It's one of the many subsidiaries of Searigs Corporation, and that, so I understand, is partly owned and totally controlled by A.G.H. Industries."

"Searigs? That's the outfit that built the offshore-drilling platforms for Nigeria," said Carl Mankin. "Right?"

"And in the North Sea," Slate said. "For the Norwegians. Or was it the Swedish?"

"Owned by the senator?"

"Of course not. Searigs is part of A.G.H. Industries. What are you getting at, anyway?"

"I am trying to get at who I am actually working for." Slate sipped his orange juice, grinned at Carl Mankin, said: "You surely don't think anyone would have told me that, do you?"

"I think you could guess. You're the senator's chief administrative aide, his picker of witnesses for the committees he runs, his doer of undignified deeds, his maker of deals with the various lobbyists -- " Mankin laughed. "And need I say it, his finder of other guys like me to run the senator's errands with somebody else paying the fee. So I surely do think you could make an accurate guess. But would you tell me if you did?"

Slate smiled. "Probably not. And I am almost certain you wouldn't believe me if I told you."

"In which case, I should probably make sure to get my pay in advance."

Slate nodded. "Exactly. When we finish lunch, and you pay for it with your new Visa card, we'll go down to the bank I use. We transfer forty-nine thousand five hundred dollars into Carl Mankin's account there, and I present you the deposit slip."

"And the other five hundred?"

Slate got out his wallet, extracted a deposit slip, and handed it to Carl Mankin. It showed a Carl Mankin account opened the previous day with a five-hundred-dollar deposit. Mankin put it in his shirt pocket, then took it out and laid it on the table.

"An account opened for an imaginary man without his signature. I didn't know that could be done."

Slate laughed. "It's easy if the proper vice president calls down from upstairs and says do it."

"We need to be clear about this," Mankin said. "You want me to go out to that big Four Corners oil patch in New Mexico, look it over, see if I can find out how the pipeline system out there was used -- and maybe still is being used -- to bypass paying royalty money into the Interior Department's trust fund for the Indians. Does that about summarize the job?"

Slate nodded.

"That's a big part of it. The most important information of all is the names of those switching the stuff around so the money for it goes into the right pockets. And who owns the pockets."

"And the senator understands that this is likely to produce nothing. I presume it is one of a whole bunch of ways he's looking for some way to pin the blame, or the corruption, on somebody for that four- or five-billion-dollar loss of royalty money from the Tribal Trust Funds. The one the Washington Post has been writing about for the past month. The one the Secretary of Interior and the Bureau of Indian Affairs honchos are in trouble over."

Slate was grinning again. "Was that intended as a question? What do the press secretaries say to questions like that?" He slipped into a serious, disapproving expression. "We never comment on speculation."

"The newspapers say that this ripping off the four billion or so of Tribal royalty money has been going on for more than fifty years. And they're quoting the government bean counters. Right? I can't see much hope of me finding anything new..."


Excerpted from The Sinister Pig by Hillerman, Tony Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Tony Hillerman (1925–2008), an Albuquerque, New Mexico, resident since 1963, was the author of 29 books, including the popular 18-book mystery series featuring Navajo police officers Jim Chee and Joe Leaphorn, two non-series novels, two children’s books, and nonfiction works. He had received every major honor for mystery fiction; awards ranging from the Navajo Tribal Council's commendation to France 's esteemed Grand prix de litterature policiere. Western Writers of America honored him with the Wister Award for Lifetime achievement in 2008. He served as president of the prestigious Mystery Writers of America, and was honored with that group’s Edgar Award and as one of mystery fiction’s Grand Masters. In 2001, his memoir, Seldom Disappointed, won both the Anthony and Agatha Awards for best nonfiction.

Brief Biography

Albuquerque, New Mexico
Date of Birth:
May 27, 1925
Date of Death:
October 26, 2008
Place of Birth:
Sacred Heart, Oklahoma
Place of Death:
Albuquerque, New Mexico
B.A., University of Oklahoma, 1946; M.A., University of New Mexico, 1966

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Sinister Pig 3.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 26 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I'm afraid I have to agree with Libary Journal (the review)...I love Hillerman's other novels...have read all of his fiction twice...something I never do with other books. In this one, I'm afraid the 'magic' is gone...its just another mystery, with little of the Navajo lore/culture/country. Its like it was sort of last hurrah (hope not)..as if he had run out of ideas for Chee and Leaphorn. Please, Mr. Hillerman...bring back your magic!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book did not read like an authentic Hillerman book. Most of the story dealt with Washington politics and corporate crime. There was a little suspense since the conclusion was evident almost from the beginning. As a long time fan, I bought this book, but I hope that he will go back to his stories of the southwest and Navajo culture and to real mysteries, not political statements.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A good tale including Leaphorn & Cheer in the penultimate story by Tony himself
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
To fill contract if sick etc also may have been a short dragged out to make a book length novel with assissance from family or editor or secretary researcher. Many authors have a filler in case . How many continuations start with "from outline notes unfinished" by author? the series had changed over years and aging and changing cast did not help this was down hill or ghosted help from then on
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Guest More than 1 year ago
I used to be a great fan of Leaphorn & Co, but this book is like someone else published it under Hillerman's name. Nothing of that famous Navajo aura, a pretty unrealistic plot which does not play in Navajoland and could play anywhere in the world. I can't imagine Hillerman wrote this...
Guest More than 1 year ago
I think this book was written for financial reasons. Leaphorn and Chee might have as well not been included in this story; their characters here are superficial at best. The the plot is extremely week with 'cookie cutter' mediocre villans.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I think Mr. Hillerman wrote this book to just get paid. Leaphorn and Chee might have as well not been included in this book; their characters here are superficial at best. The plot is extremely week, the villans are mediocre and the only exciting section of the book is when Chee finally ask Ms. Manuelito to marry him; and this is at the very end. This book should have never been published in its current state. Skip it!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is the weakest book Hillerman has ever written. I have read most of the others in this series dozens of times, but I got very little enjoyment out of this. Most of the short book is spent on a generic villain out of central casting, who is so powerful that he doesn't need to develop any of the complex, intelligent plans that were so challenging for the detectives in books such as THE DARK WIND. Hillerman apparently wanted to tell a story about this villain's relationship with his henchman; the Navajo characters have little reason to be in the story and don't do much. I wonder if this book came out of a contractual obligation to provide novels where Leaphorn and Chee appear. It's also grating when neither author nor editor cares enough to get names and incidents right from previous books, and when the publisher doesn't care enough to stem a plague of misplaced quotation marks that often make dialogue hard to read. If you're a completist and must read this book, try to wait for a later printing when maybe someone will have done some proofreading.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I just read Sinsiter Pig in two days. I would not say that it was a cliff hanger, but it moved at a steady pace and had an interesting plot. Criminals are endlessly creative in their efforts to subvert the law. One of the things I like about Tony Hillerman's books is his soft focus on violence, making way for his emphasis on the human portrayal of his characters and the interweaving of information about the Navajo culture. I hope Tony keeps writing for a long time. Pack this book along with your suntan lotion before you head for the beach. This is definitly a good read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Up until this lastest novel I have thoroughly enjoyed Tony Hillerman's books. I just finished the Sinister Pig and thought that Mr. Hillerman 'mailed it in'. The plot was good but I felt that many angles were left undeveloped and that the novel would have been better had they been been completed and the book another 100 pages longer.
Guest More than 1 year ago
As a serious Jim Chee/Joe Leaphorn fan, I was disappointed in this one. Although I snatched it up as soon as I saw it, I wondered about the slenderness of the book. It turned out to be an indicator of the slenderness of the plot and characters. The story, while current - almost to the minute, just seems to be a standard detective story with 2 guys named Chee and Leaphorn. It did not capture my attention as did the previous Chee/Leaphorn mysteries. It was as if Jim and Joe met a weak version of Tom Clancy's Clark character - no chemistry, no interest. I am glad I purchased the book since it provided some relationship development but I hope the next one returns us to the core style that made the Navajo Tribal Police mysteries so gripping.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Sinister Pig by Tony Hillerman. Three Stars. Perhaps Tony bit off more than he could chew? Perhaps Tony made all the easy choices in plot and character development? Perhaps Tony does not choose to write as prolifically and beautifully about the Four Corners weather and colors and the native American customs as he did in past novels? No one is perfect. We still have Jim and Lieut. Leaphorn, Bernie, and Cowboy Dashee, their behaviors and interactions, to enjoy. No, there is no memorable bad guy here. But given what happens between Jim and Bernie we will hopefully next find out how Lieut. Leaphorn and Louisa resolve 'things.' Thanks for writing Mr. Hillerman. You still have a world of stories to tell. Please, please do continue.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Wait for the paperback!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Tony Hillerman never disappoints with his wonderful novels of the Southwest. I am Navajo and I really enjoy his books and he respects the people and cultures of the Southwest in all his writings.