The Ghostway (Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee Series #6)

The Ghostway (Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee Series #6)

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New York Times Bestseller

The New York Times bestselling novel by master writer Tony Hillerman—an electrifying thriller of revenge, secrets, and murder.

“One of the best of the series.”—New York Times Book Review

Old Joseph Joe sees it all. Two strangers spill blood at the Shiprock Wash-O-Mat. One dies. The other drives off into the dry lands of the Big Reservation, but not before he shows the old Navajo a photo of the man he seeks.

This is all Tribal Policeman Jim Chee needs to set him off on an odyssey that moves from a trapped ghost in an Indian hogan to the seedy underbelly of L.A. to an ancient healing ceremony where death is the cure, and into the dark heart of murder and revenge.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061967788
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 05/25/2010
Series: Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee Series , #6
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 97,975
Product dimensions: 4.10(w) x 7.40(h) x 0.90(d)

About 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.


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

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Hosteen Joseph Joe remembered it like this.

He'd noticed the green car just as he came out of the Shiprock Economy Wash-O-Mat. The red light of sundown reflected from its windshield. Above the line of yellow cottonwoods along the San Juan River the shape of Shiprock was blueblack and ragged against the glow. The car looked brand new and it was rolling slowly across the gravel, the driver leaning out the window just a little. The driver had yelled at Joseph Joe.

"Hey!" he'd yelled. "Come here a minute."

Joseph Joe remembered that very clearly. The driver looked like a Navajo, but yelling at him like that was not a Navajo thing to do because Joseph Joe was eighty-one years old, and the people around Shiprock and up in the Chuska Mountains called him Hosteen, which means "old man" and is a term of great respect.

Joseph Joe had put his laundry sack into the back of his daughter's pickup truck and walked over to the car. He noticed its plates weren't yellow, like New Mexico's, or white, like Arizona's. They were blue.

"I'm looking for a man named Gorman," the driver had said. "Leroy Gorman. A Navajo. Moved here little while ago."

"I don't know him," Joseph Joe had said. He had said it in Navajo, because when he got close he saw he had been right. The man was a Navajo. But the driver just frowned at him.

"You speak English?" the driver asked.

"I don't know Leroy Gorman." Hosteen Joe said it in English this time.

"He's been around here several weeks," the driver said. "Young fellow. Little older than me. Medium-sized. Hell, small as this place is, I'd think you'd have seen him."

"I don't know him," Joseph Joe repeated, "I don't live in this town. I live at my daughter's place. Out there near the Shiprock." Joseph Joe had gestured toward the Arizona border and the old volcano core outlined by the sunset. "Don't live in here with all these people," he explained.

"I'll bet you've seen him," the driver said. He took out his billfold and fished a photograph out of it. "This is him," the driver said and handed the photograph to Hosteen Joe.

Joseph Joe looked at it carefully, as courtesy demanded. It was a Polaroid photograph, like the ones his granddaughter took. There was something written on the back of it, and an address. The front was a picture of a man standing by the door of a house trailer, which was partly shaded by a cottonwood tree. Hosteen Joe took off his glasses and wiped them off carefully on his sleeve and looked a long time at the young man's face. He didn't recognize him, and that's what he said when he handed the driver his photograph. After that, he didn't remember the rest of it quite as clearly because just then it all began to happen.

The driver was saying something to him about the trailer, maybe about Gorman living in it or trying to sell it or something, and then there was the sound of a car braking on the highway, tires squealing a little, and the car backing up and whipping around and driving into the Wash-O-Mat parking lot. This car was new too. A Ford sedan.

It stopped just in front of the driver's car. A man wearing a plaid coat got out of it and walked toward them and then stopped suddenly, apparently noticing Joseph Joe for the first time. Plaid Coat said something to the driver. As Joseph Joe remembered, it was "Hello, Albert," but the driver didn't say anything. Then Plaid Coat said, "You forgot to do what you were told. You've got to come along with me. You're not supposed to be here." Or something like that. And then he had looked at Joseph Joe and said, "We've got business, old man. You go away now."

Hosteen Joe had turned then and walked back toward his daughter's truck. Behind him he heard the sound of a car door opening. Then closing. A yell. The sharp clap of a pistol shot. And then another shot, and another, and another. When he turned he saw Plaid Coat on the gravel and the driver holding himself up by clinging to the door of his car. Then the driver got in and drove away. When the car got to the asphalt, it turned toward the river and toward the junction, which would either take it west toward Teec Nos Pos or south toward Gallup.

People were running out of the Wash-O-Mat by then, yelling questions. But Hosteen Joe just looked at Plaid Coat, sprawled on his side on the gravel with a pistol on the ground beside him and blood running out his mouth. Then he got into his daughter's truck.

The driver was Navajo, but this was white man's business.

Chapter Two

"Funny how a premonition works," the deputy said. "I been in this business almost thirty years, and I never had one before."

Jim Chee said nothing. He was trying to recreate precisely and exactly the moment when he had known everything was going wrong with Mary Landon. He didn't want to think about the deputy's premonitions. He'd said something to Mary about his house trailer being too small for both of them, and she'd said, "Hey, wait a minute, Jim Chee, what have you done about that application with the FBI?" and he'd told her that he'd decided not to mail it. And Mary had just sat there in the Crownpoint Café, not looking at him or saying anything, and finally she'd sighed and shook her head and said, "Why should you be any different from everybody else?" and laughed a laugh with absolutely no humor in it.

Table of Contents

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Ghostway 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 19 reviews.
StephenHughes on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Tony Hillerman never disappoints. Besides his usual good detective story, there's lots of interesting information about Navajo burial rites and beliefs associated with chindi, the spirits that may be left behind by the dead.
jlouise77 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was a decent book, but wouldnt recommend anyone buy it. Very bland and uneventful. I have read books in this "series" before and they have been very good, this one was just very bland.
markatread on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
There are three levels that the reader can look at regarding The Ghostway. The actual mystery is the least satisfying part of The Ghostway by far. The ending is convoluted and looses what ever tension Hillerman had been able to develop leading up to the conclusion.The exploration of the Navajo way is really well done though and makes up for some of the let down the reader feels regarding the mystery. Even some of the boring parts where Hillerman has Jim Chee driving all over the reservation, even in blizzard conditions, helps to give the reader a sense of the vastness and the harsh nature of the reservation. To further expand on this theme he has Chee follow a young Navajo girl to Los Angeles where the contrast between the reservation and Los Angeles is only part of what Hillerman wants not only the reader but Jim Chee to see and recognize. There is a part where he has Chee observe a nursing home and recognize that what white people do with the old members of thier families is very different than what the Navajo have learned to do regarding their elders. But the real heart and soul of the exploration into the Navajo way is where the religious aspects intersect with the mystery. This part is very well done as Jim Chee has to question his values and how they have been formed in relationship to his religious beliefs.**Spoiler Alert**But the best part of the book is surely the realtionship between Jim Chee and his white girlfriend, Mary Landon. She does not actually appear in the book very much, but she is in Jim's thoughts at every step of the way. He is struggling with his relationship with her because she wants him to leave the reservation and become an FBI agent. Chee understands why she thinks this is best for them and their future children. And he tries very hard to do this for her throughout the book because he does love her. He knows she loves him and he wants to be able to do this for her. But the trip to Los Angeles and then the pull that his Navajo beliefs continue to have on him as he unravels the mystery, all lead to what we the readers believe about both Jim and Mary. He can not be a white man and she can not be a Navajo woman. They are what they are, even if they do love each other.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Once again, Mr Hillerman has formulated a novel of suspense, adventure and interesting knowledge about the country.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good Mystery with some Navajo culture.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Chee is a likable character, and I liked getting into his thoughts as he's solving the mystery. Native American life and lore adds an interesting and different element.
QueenJody More than 1 year ago
I'm a huge fan of Tony Hillerman. This is my second time around reading his Leaphorn/Chee novels. Even though they are set in the 1970's they are relevant and fun reads.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This has some of the Indian lore that keeps Hillerman fans coming back, but not enough. The investigation involves too much non-reservation settings, which does not seem consistent with Jim Chee's style.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The Ghostway By:Tony HIllerman

Main character: The main character in this story is named Joseph Joe. He is old, mid ranged smart, is kind and wants to help, and he is of good help in this story.Joseph is the only one who saw the murder.

Plot:The problem in my story is about a murder. In this murder a guy named Joseph Joe has to help the police. He has to find the guy that murded his neighbor that he didn't even know about. The killer in this book basically picked up the nieghbor in his truck, shot him, and then drove off. This is the main problem in my story.

Setting: There is no setting described except when he is chasing the killer in the mountains and in L.A.

Theme: This story's point is suspense and to teach children to not commit murder because you will be caught.

Connection: I can connect to this story because i ahve chased someone into the mountains and he somehow got away. Also i can connect this story to another story called Brian's Winter because Brian is lost and the driver of the airplane is dead.

Names of related books: Brian's winter
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Ghostway by Tony Hillerman was an interesting mystery about a murder in a small town. The reason I started to read this book is because I like things that have information about Indians. Some of the main characters in the story are Chee, Margaret Billy Sosi, and Vaggan. This story is about a murder which Chee is trying to solve. He goes to L.A. to try to find Margaret Billy Sosi because she is the key to solving the case. Vaggan is a hired hitman who is also looking for Margaret Billy Sosi, but he wants to kill her. This story is good because it has a lot of suspense and mystery. I give this book a five star rating. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes books filled with suspense and mystery.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Ghostway is one of the best Hillerman mysteries, and I've enjoyed every one of them! Chee has too many things on his plate in this one - a woman who wants him become more like white society, a boss who wants to keep him out of political trouble with the Feds, and a murder that invokes his sense of responsibility as a hataalii - a medicine man. READ THIS ONE! Then find all of Hillerman's work! Worth every minute!