this is the 219th in my series of forgotten or seldom read books
The Blessing Way by Tony Hillerman, Harper & Row 1970 paperback
This is special Forgotten Book week on first novels, and I decided to re-read and post on Hillerman’s first novel, The Blessing Way, which is also the first novel featuring Navajo policeman Joe Leaphorn.
When I was about halfway through the book, Bob Byrne posted an excellent article over at the Black Gate site on the The Blessing Way and he has gone into a lot of detail about the writing of the book, the revisions it went through and the nature of the plot. It’s very good and I think you should click (here) and go read it. The following week he continued with more on Hillerman and the second book in the series (here). Then hop on back and I’ll tell you briefly what I thought of the book.
Back? Great posts, right? Okay now for my opinion. Like Bob, I had forgotten how much the book is McKee’s as much as Leaphorn’s. Memory plays tricks, and I kept expecting Leaphorn to emerge into the plot. This is a fine mystery, and Leaphorn is in it, but it’s clear Tony Hillerman was feeling his way, writing a mystery with “Indian stuff” but not completely settled on his main character. Still, it’s a damn fine first novel, and it sets the stage for the series that follows.
Perhaps a new reader to the series is better served to begin with Dance Hall of the Dead and return the The Blessing Way after. Either way, these are very good books, filled with strong character and steeped in the southwest location. Highly Recommended.