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Hunting Badger (Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee Series #14)

Hunting Badger (Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee Series #14)

3.8 20
by Tony Hillerman

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Three men raid the gambling casino run by the Ute nation and then disappear into the maze of canyons on the Utah-Arizona border. When the FBI, with its helicopters and high-tech equipment, focuses on a wounded deputy sheriff as a possible suspect, Navajo Tribal Police Sergeant Jim Chee and his longtime colleague, retired Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn, launch an


Three men raid the gambling casino run by the Ute nation and then disappear into the maze of canyons on the Utah-Arizona border. When the FBI, with its helicopters and high-tech equipment, focuses on a wounded deputy sheriff as a possible suspect, Navajo Tribal Police Sergeant Jim Chee and his longtime colleague, retired Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn, launch an investigation of their own. Chee sees a dangerous flaw in the federal theory; Leaphorn sees intriguing connections to the exploits of a legendary Ute bandit-hero. And together, they find themselves caught up in the most perplexing -- and deadly -- criminal manhunt of their lives.

Editorial Reviews

The Barnes & Noble Review
November 1999

Ed Gorman Reviews Tony Hillerman's Hunting Badger

Not all masters of the form get better as their careers move along. Some get sloppy, some just seem to fall out of touch with readers, and some just give up writing altogether.

Not Tony Hillerman.

It's interesting that the opening chapter of his last novel (The First Eagle) reads a bit like Robin Cook with its medical speculations, and that his new book, Hunting Badger, has the air of a political thriller. Rather than repeat himself, Hillerman appears to be pushing in new and exciting directions.

In its simplest form, Hunting Badger is a novel about the collision of two law enforcement agencies, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (or The Federal Bureau of Ineptitude, as some call it) and the cops of the Navajo Indian reservation. Both groups are hunting for the men who robbed a casino and killed a police officer in the process. They could be hiding anywhere in the vast search area.

Hillerman has certainly shown displeasure before, if not anger, with the way the federal government deals with reservation law and methods — the Great White Father of Washington telling all the heathens how to do things. But I can't recall any other Hillerman novel that seems so forthrightly scornful of the feds. And, in Hillerman's version of events (an actual manhunt inspired this book), it's the kind of well-deserved scorn people felt after the needless slaughter and cover-up by the FBI at Waco. Maybe becauseI'mstill angry about Waco myself, or maybe because I'm a political thriller junkie, I think this is the most spellbinding novel Hillerman has ever written, especially since he brings the retired Joe Leaphorn back onstage.

It's a breathless and informative read — the strutting feds out for glory, sometimes so obsessed with style and good press that the manhunt seems irrelevant — and Leaphorn and Jim Chee remembering Navajo and Ute myths and allegories that seem to be a subtext for the manhunt here. Talk about your cultural collision.

This is an angry, dramatic, sly, wry, honest, and flawlessly composed novel that could make a great movie in tradition of "The Fugitive." Are you listening, Hollywood? Hillerman's always been a master. He just took his mastery up another notch.

—Ed Gorman

Ed Gorman's latest novels include Daughter of Darkness, Harlot's Moon, and Black River Falls, the latter of which "proves Gorman's mastery of the pure suspense novel," says Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine. ABC-TV has optioned the novel as a movie. Gorman is also the editor of Mystery Scene magazine, which Stephen King calls "indispensable" for mystery readers.

Tom Nolan
Part of the appeal of Tony Hillerman's wonderfully satisfying police-procedural novels set in the Four Corners area of the American Southwest that a reader can depend on having certain expectations met. Mr. Hillerman has a knack for making his continuing characters as interesting as the crimes they solve. Even before Chee and Leaphorn are done Hunting Badger, the reader is longing to be with them next ime, patroling those starkly beautiful sagebrush flats and sandstone cliffs.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Hillerman returns to his time-tested heroes, Navajo tribal police officers Sergeant Jim Chee and Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn (retired), for yet another satisfying mystery. For a listener, comfort comes with familiarity: the vivid sense of time and place conveyed. This is thanks in part to Guidall's reading, relaxed in its pacing yet sharp in its character development (demonstrating, once again, why he's considered to be among the best in the spoken-audio field). Based in part on a real 1998 case, the story concerns the armed robbery of a casino on the Ute reservation. The suspects have disappeared, and Chee has to see if he can find a local link to the crime. This involves lots of legwork, talking to local characters holed up in their remote trailer homes. Here Hillerman is in top form, creating dialogue that will bring listeners into real sympathy with the people and proceedings described. Also good on audio is Hillerman's strict sense of linear narrative, his respect for straight-ahead storytelling. Simultaneous release with the HarperCollins hardcover. (Dec.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Navajo tribal police officers Joe Leaphorn (ret.) and Jim Chee are united again, this time in an effort to catch heavily armed right-wing militiamen who robbed an Indian casino and who may or may not be involved in a previous mishandled manhunt. Navajo and Ute myths and history are successfully woven into a modern mystery. Insights into Leaphorn's and Chee's personalities are unveiled against the backdrop of the scenic Southwest's beauty, other interesting characters, and peeks into Navajo life. The tale, which is well-read by George Guidall, also contains plenty of action and surprises, along with dynamic central characters struggling to live in the modern world without sacrificing their culture. Recommended.--Denise A. Garofalo, Mid-Hudson Lib. Syst., Poughkeepsie, NY Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.\
Jon L. Breen
The killing of law officers at an Indian casino precipitates a massive search, once again putting the Navajo Tribal Police in uneasy collaboration with the F.B.I. and other agencies. In an opening note, Hillerman reveals that a real 1998 manhunt inspired his fiction. The series about Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee has subtly changed in recent entries: There's more humor ; Jim Chee is far more talkative; and the whole enterprise is mellower and more relaxed. The Leaphorn-Chee relationship occasionally recalls Charlie Chan and number-one-son.
Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine
Rocky Mountain News
“His best.”
Boston Globe
“Hillerman soars.”
New York Times Book Review
“Tony Hillerman is a wonderful storyteller....Surrendering to Hillerman’s strong narrative voice and supple storytelling techniques, we come to see that ancieant cultures and modern sciences are simply different mythologies for the same reality.”
Washington Post Book World
Complex, engrossing...On their own, (Leaphorn and Chee) are compeling; as a duo they ‘re the best since Lennon and McCartney.”
Los Angeles Times

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee Series , #14
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1 MB

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Deputy Sheriff Teddy Bai had been leaning on the doorframe looking out at the night about three minutes or so before he became aware that Cap Stoner was watching him.

"Just getting some air," Bai said. "Too damn much cigarette smoke in there."

"You're edgy tonight," Cap said, moving up to stand in the doorway beside him. "You young single fellas ain't supposed to have anything worrying you."

"I don't," Teddy said.

"Except maybe staying single," Cap said. "There's that."

"Not with me," Teddy said, and looked at Cap to see if he could read anything in the old man's expression. But Cap was looking out into the Ute Casino's parking lot, showing only the left side of his face, with its brush of white mustache, short-cropped white hair and the puckered scar left along the cheekbone when, as Cap told it, a woman he was arresting for Driving While Intoxicated fished a pistol out of her purse and shot him. That had been about forty years ago, when Stoner had been with the New Mexico State Police only a couple of years and had not yet learned that survival required skepticism about all his fellow humans. Now Stoner was a former captain, augmenting his retirement pay as a rent-a-cop security director at the Southern Ute gambling establishment — just as Teddy was doing on his off-duty nights.

"What'd ya tell that noisy drunk at the blackjack table?"

"Just the usual," Teddy said. "Calm down or he'd have to leave."

Cap didn't comment. He stared out into the night. "Saw some lightning," he said, pointing. "Just barely. Must be way out there over Utah. Time for it, too."

"Yeah," Teddy said, wantingCap to go away.

"Time for the monsoons to start," Cap said. "The thirteenth, isn't it? I'm surprised so many people are out here trying their luck on Friday the thirteenth."

Teddy nodded, providing no fodder to extend this conversation.

But Cap didn't need any. "But then it's payday. They got to get rid of all that money in their pay envelopes." Cap looked at his watch. "Three-thirty-three," he announced. "Almost time for the truck to get here to haul off the loot to the bank."

And, Teddy thought, a few minutes past the time when a little blue Ford Escort was supposed to have arrived in the west lot. "Well," he said, "I'll go prowl around the parking areas. Scare off the thieves."

Teddy found neither thieves nor a little blue Escort in the west lot. When he looked back at the employees only doorway, Cap was no longer there. A few minutes late. A thousand reasons that could happen. No big deal. He enjoyed the clean air, the predawn high-country chill, the occasional lightning over the mountains. He walked out of the lighted area to check his memory of the midsummer starscape. Most of the constellations were where he remembered they should be. He could recall their American names, and some of the names his Navajo grandmother had taught him, but only two of the names he'd wheedled out of his Kiowa-Comanche father. Now was that moment his grandmother called the "deep dark time," but the late-rising moon was causing a faint glow outlining the shape of Sleeping Ute Mountain. He heard the sound of laughter from somewhere. A car door slammed. Then another. Two vehicles pulled out of the east lot, heading for the exit. Coyotes began a conversation of yips and yodels among the pinons in the hills behind the casino. The sound of a truck gearing down came from the highway below. A pickup pulled into the employees only lot, parked, produced the clattering sound of something being unloaded.

Teddy pushed the illumination button on his Timex. Three-forty-six. Now the little blue car was late enough to make him wonder a little. A man wearing what looked like coveralls emerged into the light carrying an extension ladder. He placed it against the casino wall, trotted up it to the roof.

"Now what's that about?" Teddy said, half-aloud. Probably an electrician. Probably something wrong with the air-conditioning. "Hey," he shouted, and started toward the ladder. Another pickup pulled into the employee lot—this one a big oversize-cab job. Doors opened. Two men emerged. National Guard soldiers apparently, dressed in their fatigues. Carrying what? They were walking fast toward the EMPLOYEES ONLY door. But that door had no outside knob. It was the accounting room, opened only from the inside and only by guys as important as Cap Stoner.

Stoner was coming out of the side entrance now. He pointed at the roof, shouted, "Who's that up there? What the hell—"

"Hey," Teddy yelled, trotting toward the two men, unsnapping the flap on his holster. "What's —"

Both men stopped. Teddy saw muzzle flashes, saw Cap Stoner fall backward, sprawled on the pavement. The men spun toward him, swinging their weapons. He was fumbling with his pistol when the first bullets struck him.

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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Hunting Badger (Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee Series #14) 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 21 reviews.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
It was very nice work from Hillerman. It showed progress in his work and his ability to leave you caught in the suspense. Except he left the whereabouts of Hunting Badger unknown which leaves you hanging in the plot. Otherwise it was very good.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was the first Hillerman book I've read and although I enjoyed the 2 main characters, I felt the story could have been a bit more involved. It was an interesting read and the geographical insight added a lot to the book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book has many appealing features. The usual reservation context is there, built up from a mixture of magic, myth, vistas, and cultural conflicts. My favorite characters in the series all have pretty good sized roles, including Joe Leaphorn, Jim Chee, Cowboy Dashee, and Bernie Manuelito. The mystery has lots of misdirection, but not so much that you can't separate the red herrings from the real clues. The context between the reservation and nonreservation worlds becomes richer. And finally, the characters develop new depth and expand their relationships in significant ways. The plot also has some twists in it that are different from other Hillerman novels. I particularly like balance in my novels, and this one is the most balanced I remember in the series. Almost all of the elements that could be touched on are, and they add to the enjoyment of the story and the reader's connection to the characters. The book opens with a violent crime in which three criminals working in close coordination hijack the Ute Casino's winnings. One security officer is killed, and another is seriously wounded. Soon, the FBI's theory is that the crooks are long gone, due to the disappearance of a small plane. Joe Leaphorn's retired, and Jim Chee's on vacation. Yet, soon they are at the point in tracking down the criminals. As usual, their superior knowledge and openmindedness about what they hear allow them to draw conclusions that occur to no one else. Where else are those who should know the most ignored? Find those people and listen to them. You may well have a Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee available to help you. Anyone who is a Tony Hillerman fan will have lots of fun with this one! Donald Mitchell, co-author of The Irresistible Growth Enterprise and The 2,000 Percent Solution
Guest More than 1 year ago
'Hunting Badger' is very exciting. It is a take-off on the shootings in Cortez, Colorado, where Officer Dale Claxton was killed. Tony Hillerman captures the event in his own story called 'Hunting Badger'. The story is set in New Mexico where a casino gets robbed and a security guard is murdered. This is where Hillerman's famous tribal police officers, Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee, are called to investigate the crime.

'Hunting Badger' is a very good book for high school and older age groups. Hillerman writes with very good detail explaining every setting and character and the plot of the story. Although a good book, the middle of the story gets really slow. This is probably the only bad point of the book. Other than that it is a good book, and it is recommend it to anybody.

Guest More than 1 year ago
It's been a long time since I picked up a Hillerman book-too long. This was an excellant read. The characters are just as strong as they were in the first novel. Would highly recommend it to all mystery fans.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I'm only half way through the book and can't wait for the next one. It's always interesting to see how Mr. Hillerman ties each new book to the previous one. They are not sequels, but I learned by reading 'Coyote Waits' 1st that you really need to read them in the order they were written to enjoy each one to the fullest. My only disappointment is that it is so long between books, but I guess if Mr. Hillerman wrote them faster they might not be as good.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Tony Hillerman excels in weaving the past and present together in a warm tapestry of characterizations, brilliant descriptions, and understated intelligence. In Hunting Badger, as with many of his previous books, he combines the traditional and modern approach to solving the mystery. The relationship between Leaphorn and Jim Chee has developed into one of mutual respect, yet their differences are what really make these stories click. Hillerman is a consumate 'story teller', not just a writer!! He makes you feel like you are right there with his heroes as they struggle to catch up with the 'bad guys'. I am always thrilled to see a new Hillerman book on the shelves, and terribly disappointed to have it end. As I lay the book down, I feel like I'm saying 'Good Bye' to an old friend. Can't wait for the next one !!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Tony Hillerman has created another well-crafted, well-told story. His writing style is lyric, and the protagonists' characters are incredibly well-drawn and believable. He continues to work on the character development of women, bringing new facets to his story-telling craft. As with his prior works, reading Hunting Badger made me ache to return to New Mexico, to the searing hot, crystal clear desert summers. If you've never read a Hillerman novel before, this is a great introduction to the series (are there any that aren't?). The characters' histories are explained in a relaxed and unrepetitive manner. Some of the details may be opaque, but these details are not vital to the book or to Hillerman's body of work. Hunting Badger is not a demanding read, but a well-crafted and enjoyable one.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Although the plot of Hunting Badger is not wildly different from Hillerman's many Jim Chee novels, it's still a very satisfying read. Hillerman's writing reflects the gentle candence I associate with Native American speech, and I love to 'listen' to the words as I read. So, rather than look for a new plot twist or a different kind of suspense, I enjoy the soft, thoughtful approach of Hillerman's protagonists. Keep them coming, Mr. Hillerman.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I just finished reading the book Hunting Badger. I thought it was a really good but not one of Hillerman's best.I like the way he left the end open for another book. Can't wait.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The publisher depended too much on the reputation of Hillerman, Chee, and Leaphorn to sell this thrown together mystery. There are typographical errors (pg 66, line 8 'Cree' instead of Chee). And there is incontinuity: Joe Leaphorn mysteriously disappears from Jim Chee's company at the end of chapter 19. The editor should be fired.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Clearly not one of Hillerman's best, but then again, the expectations are so high. As much as I can't wait for Hillerman's next book (I've read them all), I think that he needs to take a break. Up until the end Hunting Badger was a very good read - couldn't wait for the ending which, unfortunately, was very disappointing. It was clear that Hillerman had run out of gas. Ironically, the paperbook edition of Hunting Badger has an excerpt from Hillerman's memoir that is to be released in the fall of 2001. It starts by saying that he had been working on his first book, Blessing Way, off and on for about thirty months and settled for a wrap-up chapter that was knowingly less than satisfactory. Fortunately, Hillerman's editor responded that Harper & Row wanted to publish it 'if you can write a better last chapter.' I wish that Hillerman had gotten similar advice this time.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Falconpaw woke up to a scream. His ears flattened. Thdn he realized HE had sceamed. Dawnpaw and Dewpaw where stareing at him. "S-sorry." He stuttered. "I-i dont know why i sceamed." Dewpaw sighed and went back to sleep. Dawnpaw padded out. Falconpaw remevered now! In his dream, he had been running frpom claws. Huge claws. Badger claws! They had ripped him apart, limb by limb. He shuddered. Mousepaw stuck his head in. "You ok?" "Fine. Just a dream. A bad one." Moisepaw laughed. "Why would you sceafm in a good one?" "Good point." END OF SNEAK PEAK!!