Bromley, Kent, United Kingdom
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  • Dance Hall of the Dead

  • By: Tony Hillerman
  • Narrated by: Michael Ansara
  • Length: 2 hrs and 54 mins
  • Abridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 11
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 6
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 6

A Zuni Indian boy dies in a bizarre ritual slaying - and his best friend, a Navajo youth, is missing. Navajo police lieutenant Joe Leaphorn tracks the friend from Zuni village to Navajo hogan, from anthropological dig to hippie commune, across the desert of New Mexico and Arizona.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • I enjoyed this very much

  • By Josie on 19-12-08

I enjoyed this very much

5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 19-12-08

I noticed the obituaries of Tony Hillerman in the papers earlier this year, and was intrigued by the descriptions of his work. I'd never heard of him, but I like crime books, especially ones that aren't too gruesome, and have visited the western US a few times - not Arizona, where this is set, but it's similar enough landscape to Utah and Colorado for me to be able to imagine it. Not that you'd need to have been there to enjoy it - he does a terrific job of making you feel like you're right there.

The book has an excellent plot that keeps you guessing until quite near the end, and Joe Leaphorn, the detective, is an intriguing character who manages to be compelling even though he reveals virtually nothing about himself.

The descriptions of Zuni ritual and customs are engaging and never degenerate into travelogue or local colour. I'm no expert on lit-crit so when I realised the book was essentially about the nature of taboo (and not just of the Zunis) I realised what a clever writer Hillerman is, to take a big topic like that and yet not make it over-dramatic.

As a book, it's ideal for audio listening as it's written day by day so divides into short sections which are easy to listen to without getting lost. It's been skilfully abridged and there's none of that 'whoops, there goes another carefully crafted sub-plot' feeling that you sometimes get with abridgements. The actor who reads it, Michael Ansara, is excellent, giving just the right laconic delivery for Leaphorn.

All in all, I really enjoyed it and it's a shame that none of Hillerman's other titles are available on Audible (and if they are offered, it would be nice to have a choice of some unabridged versions too).

If you like old-fashioned crime, Westerns, or books by Kinky Friedman, you will definitely enjoy this.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful