Tony Hillerman: A Life

Univ. of Oklahoma. Oct. 2021. 352p. ISBN 9780806175980. $29.95. BIOG
Morris (The Rose Man of Sing Sing: A True Tale of Life, Murder and Redemption in the Age of Yellow Journalism) chronicles the life of renowned mystery author Tony Hillerman (“Navajo Tribal Police” series). Hillerman grew up in rural Oklahoma, attending the local school with Potawatomie children. After returning home wounded from the frontlines of World War II, Hillerman dedicated his life to writing. He first worked as a journalist on a small-town crime beat and eventually joined the faculty of the University of New Mexico Journalism School. Hillerman began writing his popular fiction series following Navajo Tribal Police officers Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee. While Hillerman was the recipient of Edgar Allen Poe and Agatha awards many of his fans noted they loved the series not for mysteries but for the in-depth landscapes and detailed look into Navajo life and traditions. He also authored several nonfiction works on life in New Mexico but none reached the same level of success as his mystery series. Throughout his career Hillerman was both lauded for his research and authentic look at Navajo culture and credibly accused of cultural appropriation.
VERDICT Recommended mostly for Hillerman’s devoted fans.
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