Get Blog Posts Via Email

View RSS Feed


THE WAY OF THE BEAR by Anne Hillerman: Book Review

It was supposed to be a relaxing trip to Bears Ears National Monument for Bernadette Manuelito and Jim Chee.  Although the official reason for Jim’s visit is to look into a possible donation to the Navajo Nation’s Fallen Officers Memorial Fund, it is also an opportunity for him to partake in a sweat lodge ceremony led by Desmond Grayhair, the hatááłi and leader from the Navajo Mountain community.

In addition, Chee sees it as an opportunity for Bernadette to recharge and overcome the sadness recently surrounding her.  He knows his wife is disappointed at having been passed over for a promotion to detective, but he feels it is more than that, something that his wife isn’t able or willing to share.

While Jim is at the sweat lodge ceremony, Bernie walks amidst the sandstone buttes in the Valley of the Gods, recalling the history of her Diné ancestors.  Suddenly a dark pickup heads toward her, getting closer and closer as its headlights shine directly on her.   An arm extends from the truck’s passenger side, and a there’s a rifle shot.  It misses her, but she’s too far from her car to give chase.

When Manuelito and Chee are back in their room at the motel where they’re staying, the woman occupying the adjoining unit knocks on their door.  Chee met her briefly earlier in the day, and she introduced herself then as Jessica Johnson, an archaeologist working in the area with her husband Kyle, a paleontologist.  Now, several hours after that meeting, Jessica tells Jim and Bernie that her husband is overdue on his return from Bear Ears and that she hasn’t heard from him.

Bernie and Jim return to the spot where Bernie was nearly run over and shot at, and they meet Ranger Cassidy Kingsley of the Bureau of Land Management.  She seems oddly reluctant to believe Bernie’s story about the truck and its shooter, although she promises to pass the information on to the sheriff.

Then another strange thing happens.  Dr. Chapman Dulles, the man Chee was supposed to see about the donation to the Navajo Fund, disappears.  Could it have something to do with the groundbreaking work he is doing regarding fossils?  He has discovered a fossilized jawbone and the attached skull of a dinosaur ancestor, what he calls a “once-in-a-millennium find.”  Or is it more personal, considering that his truck’s tires were slashed and he had begun receiving threatening phone calls?

The million-plus acres of Bears Ears National Monument is rich with archaeological and paleontological artifacts, and in addition it is a holy place for the Navajo Nation.  However, it’s obvious there is something definitely unholy happening there now.

The Way of the Bear is the eighth mystery featuring Bernadette Manuelito and Jim Chee (with a brief mention of Joe Leaphorn), and Bernie and Jim complement each other in every way.  Theirs is a true partnership both personally and professionally.

As always, Anne Hillerman has written an exciting, captivating novel with characters who are believable and a plot that will keep you turning pages to the end of the book.  You can read more about her at this website.

Check out the complete Marilyn’s Mystery Reads at her website.  In addition to book review posts, there are sections featuring Golden OldiesPast Masters and Mistresses, and an About Marilyn column that features her opinions about everything to do with mystery novels.

Leave a Reply