A Thief of Time (Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee Series #8)

( 21 )

Overview

At a moonlit Indian ruin—where "thieves of time" ravage sacred ground in the name of profit—a noted anthropologist vanishes while on the verge of making a startling, history-altering discovery. At an ancient burial site, amid stolen goods and desecrated bones, two corpses are discovered, shot by bullets fitting the gun of the missing scientist.

There are modern mysteries buried in despoiled ancient places. And as blood flows all too freely, Navajo Tribal Policemen Joe Leaphorn ...

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A Thief of Time (Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee Series #8)

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Overview

At a moonlit Indian ruin—where "thieves of time" ravage sacred ground in the name of profit—a noted anthropologist vanishes while on the verge of making a startling, history-altering discovery. At an ancient burial site, amid stolen goods and desecrated bones, two corpses are discovered, shot by bullets fitting the gun of the missing scientist.

There are modern mysteries buried in despoiled ancient places. And as blood flows all too freely, Navajo Tribal Policemen Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee must plunge into the past to unearth an astonishing truth and a cold-hearted killer.

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Editorial Reviews

People
A keen observer in a world not his own . . . Hillerman tells of death and life in the Navajo nation.
Cosmopolitan
Hillerman's story is mesmerizing, not only for its suspense, which is delicious, but for the picture the author paints of the landscape in which it unfolds.
Chicago Tribune
Rich with detection . . . He knows the people, the topography, and the footing.
USA Today
All of Tony Hillerman's Navajo tribal police novels have been brilliant, but A Thief of time is flat-out marvelous.
New York Times Book Review
Skillful. Provocative. The action never flags.
Washington Post Book World
Vintage Tony Hillerman: suspenseful, compelling! Hillerman transcends the mystery genre and this is one of [his] best.
Los Angeles Times Book Review
Beautifully constructed . . . Builds to a socko finish.
Boston Globe Book Review
Brilliantly paced, highly evocative. Hillerman is surely one of the finest and most original craftsmen at work in the genre today.
Phyllis A. Whitney
Hillerman evokes the Arizona desert and Navajo lore as no other writer can.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061808401
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 5/26/2009
  • Series: Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee Series , #8
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 152,979
  • Product dimensions: 4.20 (w) x 7.40 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Tony Hillerman

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.

Biography

Tony Hillerman (1925-2008), an Albuquerque, New Mexico, resident since 1963, was the author of 29 books, including the popular 17-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.

Author biography courtesy of HarperCollins.

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    1. Hometown:
      Albuquerque, New Mexico
    1. Date of Birth:
      May 27, 1925
    2. Place of Birth:
      Sacred Heart, Oklahoma
    1. Date of Death:
      October 26, 2008
    2. Place of Death:
      Albuquerque, New Mexico

Read an Excerpt

Thief of Time, A

Chapter One

The moon had risen just above the cliff behind her. Out on the packed sand of the wash bottom the shadow of the walker made a strange elongated shape. Sometimes it suggested a heron, sometimes one of those stick-figure forms of an Anasazi pictograph. An animated pictograph, its arms moving rhythmically as the moon shadow drifted across the sand. Sometimes, when the goat trail bent and put the walker's profile against the moon, the shadow became Kokopelli himself. The backpack formed the spirit's grotesque hump, the walking stick Kokopelli's crooked flute. Seen from above, the shadow would have made a Navajo believe that the great yei northern clans called Watersprinkler had taken visible form. If an Anasazi had risen from his thousand-year grave in the trash heap under the cliff ruins here, he would have seen the Humpbacked Flute Player, the rowdy god of fertility of his lost people. But the shadow was only the shape of Dr. Eleanor Friedman-Bernal blocking out the light of an October moon.

Dr. Friedman-Bernal rested now, sitting on a convenient rock, removing her backpack, rubbing her shoulders, letting the cold, high desert air evaporate the sweat that had soaked her shirt, reconsidering a long day.

No one could have seen her. Of course, they had seen her driving away from Chaco. The children were up in the gray dawn to catch their school bus. And the children would chat about it to their parents. In that tiny, isolated Park Service society of a dozen adults and two children, everyone knew everything about everybody. There was absolutely no possibility of privacy. But she had done everything right. She had madethe rounds of the permanent housing and checked with everyone on the digging team. She was driving into Farmington, she'd said. She'd collected the outgoing mail to be dropped off at the Blanco Trading Post. She had jotted down the list of supplies people needed. She'd told Maxie she had the Chaco fever—needed to get away, see a movie, have a restaurant dinner, smell exhaust fumes, hear a different set of voices, make phone calls back to civilization on a telephone that would actually work. She would spend a night where she could hear the sounds of civilization, something besides the endless Chaco silence. Maxie was sympathetic. If Maxie suspected anything, she suspected Dr. Eleanor Friedman-Bernal was meeting Lehman. That would have been fine with Eleanor Friedman-Bernal.

The handle of the folding shovel she had strapped to her pack was pressing against her back. She stopped, shifted the weight, and adjusted the pack straps. Somewhere in the darkness up the canyon she could hear the odd screeching call of a saw-whet owl, hunting nocturnal rodents. She glanced at her watch: 10:11, changing to 10:12 as she watched. Time enough.

No one had seen her in Bluff. She was sure of that. She had called from Shiprock, just to make doubly sure that no one was using Bo Arnold's old house out on the highway. No one had answered. The house was dark when she'd arrived, and she'd left it that way, finding the key under the flower box where Bo always left it. She'd done her borrowing carefully, disturbing nothing. When she put it back, Bo would never guess it had been missing. Not that it would matter. Bo was a biologist, scraping out a living as a part-timer with the Bureau of Land Management while he finished his dissertation on desert lichens, or whatever it was he was studying. He hadn't given a damn about anything else when she'd known him at Madison, and he didn't now.

She yawned, stretched, reached for her backpack, decided to rest a moment longer. She'd been up about nineteen hours. She had maybe two more to go before she reached the site. Then she'd roll out the sleeping bag and not get out of it until she was rested. No hurry now. She thought about Lehman. Big. Ugly. Smart. Gray. Sexy. Lehman was coming. She'd wine him and dine him and show him what she had. And he would have to be impressed. He'd have to agree she'd proved her case. That wasn't necessary for publication—his approval. But for some reason, it was necessary to her. And that irrationality made her think of Maxie. Maxie and Elliot.

She smiled, and rubbed her face. It was quiet here, just a few insects making their nocturnal sounds. Windless. The cold air settling into the canyon. She shivered, picked up the backpack, and struggled into it. A coyote was barking somewhere over on Comb Wash far behind her. She could hear another across the wash, very distant, yipping in celebration of the moonlight. She walked rapidly up the packed sand, lifting her legs high to stretch them, not thinking of what she would do tonight. She had thought long enough of that. Perhaps too long. Instead she thought of Maxie and Elliot. Brains, both. But nuts. The Blueblood and the Poorjane. The Man Who Could Do Anything obsessed by the woman who said nothing he did counted. Poor Elliot! He could never win.

A flash of lightning on the eastern horizon—much too distant to hear the thunder and the wrong direction to threaten any rain. A last gasp of summer, she thought. The moon was higher now, its light muting the colors of the canyon into shades of gray. Her thermal underwear and the walking kept her body warm but her hands were like ice. She studied them. No hands for a lady. Nails blunt and broken. The skin tough, scarred, callused. Anthropology skin, they'd called it when she was an undergraduate. The skin of people who are always out under the sun, working in the dirt.

Thief of Time, A. Copyright © by Tony Hillerman. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Table of Contents

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First Chapter

Chapter One


The moon had risen just above the cliff behind her. Out on the packed sand of the wash bottom the shadow of the walker made a strange elongated shape. Sometimes it suggested a heron, sometimes one of those stick-figure forms of an Anasazi pictograph. An animated pictograph, its arms moving rhythmically as the moon shadow drifted across the sand. Sometimes, when the goat trail bent and put the walker's profile against the moon, the shadow became Kokopelli himself. The backpack formed the spirit's grotesque hump, the walking stick Kokopelli's crooked flute. Seen from above, the shadow would have made a Navajo believe that the great yei northern clans called Watersprinkler had taken visible form. If an Anasazi had risen from his thousand-year grave in the trash heap under the cliff ruins here, he would have seen the Humpbacked Flute Player, the rowdy god of fertility of his lost people. But the shadow was only the shape of Dr. Eleanor Friedman-Bernal blocking out the light of an October moon.

Dr. Friedman-Bernal rested now, sitting on a convenient rock, removing her backpack, rubbing her shoulders, letting the cold, high desert air evaporate the sweat that had soaked her shirt, reconsidering a long day.

No one could have seen her. Of course, they had seen her driving away from Chaco. The children were up in the gray dawn to catch their school bus. And the children would chat about it to their parents. In that tiny, isolated Park Service society of a dozen adults and two children, everyone knew everything about everybody. There was absolutely no possibility of privacy. But she had done everything right. She had made therounds of the permanent housing and checked with everyone on the digging team. She was driving into Farmington, she'd said. She'd collected the outgoing mail to be dropped off at the Blanco Trading Post. She had jotted down the list of supplies people needed. She'd told Maxie she had the Chaco fever--needed to get away, see a movie, have a restaurant dinner, smell exhaust fumes, hear a different set of voices, make phone calls back to civilization on a telephone that would actually work. She would spend a night where she could hear the sounds of civilization, something besides the endless Chaco silence. Maxie was sympathetic. If Maxie suspected anything, she suspected Dr. Eleanor Friedman-Bernal was meeting Lehman. That would have been fine with Eleanor Friedman-Bernal.

The handle of the folding shovel she had strapped to her pack was pressing against her back. She stopped, shifted the weight, and adjusted the pack straps. Somewhere in the darkness up the canyon she could hear the odd screeching call of a saw-whet owl, hunting nocturnal rodents. She glanced at her watch: 10:11, changing to 10:12 as she watched. Time enough.

No one had seen her in Bluff. She was sure of that. She had called from Shiprock, just to make doubly sure that no one was using Bo Arnold's old house out on the highway. No one had answered. The house was dark when she'd arrived, and she'd left it that way, finding the key under the flower box where Bo always left it. She'd done her borrowing carefully, disturbing nothing. When she put it back, Bo would never guess it had been missing. Not that it would matter. Bo was a biologist, scraping out a living as a part-timer with the Bureau of Land Management while he finished his dissertation on desert lichens, or whatever it was he was studying. He hadn't given a damn about anything else when she'd known him at Madison, and he didn't now.

She yawned, stretched, reached for her backpack, decided to rest a moment longer. She'd been up about nineteen hours. She had maybe two more to go before she reached the site. Then she'd roll out the sleeping bag and not get out of it until she was rested. No hurry now. She thought about Lehman. Big. Ugly. Smart. Gray. Sexy. Lehman was coming. She'd wine him and dine him and show him what she had. And he would have to be impressed. He'd have to agree she'd proved her case. That wasn't necessary for publication--his approval. But for some reason, it was necessary to her. And that irrationality made her think of Maxie. Maxie and Elliot.

She smiled, and rubbed her face. It was quiet here, just a few insects making their nocturnal sounds. Windless. The cold air settling into the canyon. She shivered, picked up the backpack, and struggled into it. A coyote was barking somewhere over on Comb Wash far behind her. She could hear another across the wash, very distant, yipping in celebration of the moonlight. She walked rapidly up the packed sand, lifting her legs high to stretch them, not thinking of what she would do tonight. She had thought long enough of that. Perhaps too long. Instead she thought of Maxie and Elliot. Brains, both. But nuts. The Blueblood and the Poorjane. The Man Who Could Do Anything obsessed by the woman who said nothing he did counted. Poor Elliot! He could never win.

A flash of lightning on the eastern horizon--much too distant to hear the thunder and the wrong direction to threaten any rain. A last gasp of summer, she thought. The moon was higher now, its light muting the colors of the canyon into shades of gray. Her thermal underwear and the walking kept her body warm but her hands were like ice. She studied them. No hands for a lady. Nails blunt and broken. The skin tough, scarred, callused. Anthropology skin, they'd called it when she was an undergraduate. The skin of people who are always out under the sun, working in the dirt.

Thief of Time, A. Copyright © by Tony Hillerman. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Customer Reviews

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 21 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 12, 2009

    Thief of Time

    Tony Hillerman strikes again! This is not just the product of an author who knows his background, but loves it in all shapes and sizes. What I love about any Hillerman book is the educational quality that is poured into each page, each character. I have learned more about native American culture than my several trips to the Big Res. And each is entertaining.

    My only regret is he only wrote 18 books on this theme. And each is a treasure.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 7, 2003

    Meanwhile 700 years later at Chaco Canyon

    The Anasazi Indians were a remarkable group of people. From the way they made there Pottery, to the way they made there Houses from 800ad to 1200ad. But in this Suspensful Mystery, they are turning in there grave, because there are pothunters (people who dig up artifacts illegally) on the loose all around Four Corners Indian Country. If that aint bad enough, an athropoligist is missing from Chaco Canyon. There is no better team than Lt.Leaphorn and Officer Chee to try and solve these Cases. This book was so good it influenced me to visit Chaco Canyon National Park. You need to read this book. I read some of it at Chaco while the Sunset was setting at Pueblo Bonito, it was facinating. If you never visited Chaco Canyon this book will influnce you to do so.

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