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The Shape Shifter (Navajo Mysteries, #18)
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The Shape Shifter (Navajo Mysteries #18)

3.94 of 5 stars 3.94  ·  rating details  ·  5,016 ratings  ·  262 reviews
Retirement has never sat well with former Navajo Tribal Police Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn. Now the ghosts of a still-unsolved case are returning to haunt him, reawakened by a photograph in a magazine spread of a one-of-a-kind Navajo rug, a priceless work of woven art that was supposedly destroyed in a suspicious fire many years earlier. The rug, commemorating one of the darke ...more
Paperback, 322 pages
Published January 2008 by Harper (first published November 21st 2006)
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David
May 25, 2014 David rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Shape shifters, Navajo Tribal Police officers, Hillerman fans
You know how actors and people in some other fields get "lifetime achievement awards," and sometimes they get an Oscar not so much for the movie for which they are ostensibly getting the Oscar, but because they have been around a long time and everyone loves them and they're probably not gonna turn in any more real Oscar-winning performances, so let 'em have the shiny gold dude now?

That's kind of why I'm giving The Shape Shifter five stars.

I first encountered Tony Hillerman as a freshman in coll
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Michael
Definitely a worthwhile experience to partake of Hillerman’s last book. Joe Leaphorn of the Navajo tribal police is retired, but he can’t resist poking around asking questions when he learns an acquaintance has died in a car wreck while investigating an insurance fraud case. Starting with an odd incident of stolen pine sap, one clue leads to another, and soon Joe is led to a seemingly unlikely theory that can only be resolved through a trip to a remote hunting camp for a dangerous confrontation ...more
Ivonne Rovira
Aug 09, 2013 Ivonne Rovira rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: only true-blue Joe Leaphorn fans
The Shape Shifter turns out to be a mixed bag. On the one hand, it's always a pleasure to reunite with the inestimable Joe Leaphorn, now retired from the Navaho Tribal Police and bored. On the other hand, readers will figure out what befell the clever but merciless fugitive Ray Shewnack before Leaphorn does. (view spoiler) ...more
Marissa
I read this book in candlelight with the backdrop of howling wind and torrential rain. The blackout we had yesterday created the perfect setting for reading The Shape Shifter.

Skinwalkers, according to Navajo culture, are creatures that embody evil. They can change shape and form--and not for good purposes! So when retired Navajo Tribal Policemen Joe Leaphorn gets tangled up in a decades old mystery and finds himself face to face with a modern-day skinwalker, it takes everything he has to outwit
...more
Christine Henry
Though I read this out of sequence in the series, which is uncharacteristic of me, I thought it was another wonderful and thought provoking story about values, morality, and how experiences shape a world view. There were two themes that I thought very intriguing: first, the theme of retirement, and what that stage of life means to some people. The way that US society sees retirement is somewhat contradictory: after a lifetime of work trying to improve skills and learn lessons, a person is left t ...more
David Cain
This was an enjoyable book that didn't quite live up to its potential. Perhaps if it were twice as long, the additional detail would make up for the minor shortcomings sprinkled throughout the work's structure. Not so much of a mystery, but more of a suspense thriller. There were few misdirections and it was easy to guess how things were going to turn out relatively early in the narrative. The broad variety of plot elements (Indian weaving history, Navajo and Hmong religious beliefs, Vietnam war ...more
Tristan Macavery
I've generally enjoyed the stories of Joe Leaphorn, now retired by this particular volume. Leaphorn is a traditionalist in many ways, and Hillerman's creation of the character is inextricably interwoven with his (the character's) experiences. As such, delving into a Leaphorn tale is to explore yet another of the many facets of the policeman's history, his upbringing, his heritage, and the way that his mind works. For some, this involved process of storytelling seems slow, or even irrelevant to t ...more
Shannon
A great last story by Hillerman - can't wait to see what his daughter does as she picks up the series. This one is really a Leaphorn mystery and it's an interesting one involving a con man who finally gets caught after years and years of crimes. A ruthless man, he also has a Laotian 'man servant' that he 'employed' since the child was young (Vang). Throughout the story there's a lot of questions about all parties involved (except Leaphorn, of course) but it works out in the end.
Douglas Cook


First sentence
Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn, retired, stopped his pickup about a hundred yards short of where he had intended to park, turned off the ignition, stared at Sergeant Jim Chee’s trailer home, and reconsidered his tactics.

Hillerman, Tony (2009-10-13). The Shape Shifter (Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee) (Kindle Locations 60-61). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.
Lillian Carl
In this installment, Leaphorn is the main character. Hillerman seems to strain a bit to
shoehorn Chee and Bernadette, who is now Mrs. Chee, into the story at all, but I was
glad to see them. Leaphorn is drawn into re-investigating an old case that was
supposedly settled, where the body of a most-wanted criminal was found in the remains
of a burned trading post. Of course nothing turns out to be what it originally seemed.
The ending is fairly predictable, and the long conversations comparing Ameri
...more
Morris Graham
This was one of my favorite books. True, it seems that the bad guy was pointed out early and there wasn't much to wonder about. What I liked the most was the history and cultural similarities between the Hmong and Navajos, and how LT Leaphorn and Tommy hit is off, There was the usual history lesson about the Navajos, focusing on the Long Walk from Bosque Redondo, and a "Woven Sorrow" rug, supposedly burned in a gallery fire but winds up in a magazine photo. The "Shapeshifter" is actually a crimi ...more
Sally Atwell Williams
This was the last book that Tony Hillerman wrote. I think it was appropriate that he made Leaphorn, retired, the lead in the story. It was about the Navaho belief in shape shifters or skinwalkers. And by the time I finished the book, I had a very clear idea about shape shifters. The story surrounds an incident that happened when Leaphorn was a young policeman. It is complicated in some respects, but at the end the entire story becomes clear. I love Tony Hillerman's books, and I look forward to r ...more
Alyssa
I like Tony Hillerman’s work -- it is great to pick up and just relax with for a few hours. That being said “The Shape Shifter,” Hillerman’s last book, does not meet his standard. The mystery is easy to figure out, the reoccurring characters seem to be missing some of their usual charm, and the new characters (especially Tommy Vang) are incredibly flat and undeveloped, almost to be the point of being stereotypes or caricatures. It is too bad that Hillerman’s career ended with this weak note, but ...more
Tracy
I'm still lamenting my reading of all the Amelia Peabody books. . I wanted to grab a few books at the library and sadly skipped over the shelf where she resides.

But I grabbed a few of my favorite authors, Hillerman being one of them. This book was a little disappointing and obvious, but still enjoyable. I wish it didn't include so many driving directions and harp so repeatedly on the Navajo rejection of wealth. But Lieutenant Leaphorn is a loveable character, and I like him enough to read even w
...more
Richard
The Shape Shifter by Tony Hillerman

I've been a fan of Tony Hillerman's stories for over a decade. He's written a lot of entertaining yarns, but the titles have a similarity that makes it a challenge for me to remember which one was the first I read. Each one centers on a primary mystery, but there's also a subplot about a smaller case that eventually ties in, one way or another, with the main adventure. Throughout the novels the main characters, Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn and Officer (rank dependen
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Kara Jorges
When retired Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn, formerly of the Navajo Tribal Police, gets a package from an old acquaintance containing a magazine photo of an old Navajo rug that had supposedly burned in a fire 25 years earlier, he gets pulled into quite a mystery. Leaphorn remembers the rug from when it hung in a gallery at Totter’s Trading Post, before the place burned to the ground in a fire carelessly started by Totter’s assistant when he fell asleep with a lit cigarette. The assistant’s badly burned ...more
Dale
Despite some flaws, still a strong story (and a possible explanation for the flaws- as a literary device...)

Published by Harper in November of 2006.

There are numerous flaws in Hillerman's newest book, including a confusing, often rambling first 100 pages or so. However, at about the halfway point in the book it catches some traction and moves forward with purpose and speed and the last half of the book reminds me of the Hillerman of old.

For those readers who are disappointed with this one, migh
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BIPL Reads
The Shape Shifter by Tony Hillerman is the best book I have read in a long time. The story is a mystery full of so many twists that it is almost impossible to stop reading. I would definitely give this book an A+! The Shape Shifter is a mystery based on an old tale of the Navajo tribe. They believe in this organism called the “shape shifter” and this thing can change its physical appearance into any living organism on the earth. In this book Perkins, an ex CIA member, is a master-mind criminal w ...more
JBradford
I was so happy with the Hillerman novel that I read last week that it was a real delight when I took that back to the library to discover a new one (although it was published in 2006) on the Recent additions shelf, and I grabbed it. This one has the same main characters as the other, except that it is approximately three novels later in the sequence. Jim Chee and Bernie have just come back from their honeymoon and Joe Leaphorn proposes (again) to Professor Louis Bourbonette, but the basis of the ...more
TBML
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Brianna
Mar 07, 2012 Brianna rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in crime, murder mysteries, Native American culture
In high school I was basically obsessed with Tony Hillerman books. Not really sure why, but I was. I tried to read all of his books in my school's library. The only thing I didn't like what I couldn't really figure out the order of the books, and so I read them out of order.
These books are great. They are from a point of view from a cop who is caught between two words: Navajo and white. He treads back and forth between those lines, trying to find a balance while solving murders.
Tony Hillerman
...more
Denniger Bolton
I've read every one of Tony Hillerman's novels. If you've read one or more of his books you know they are set in New Mexico and Arizona, and for the most part cover the geographical area of the Navajo Indian Reservation. The heroes are Lt. Joe Leaphorn and Sergeant Jim Chee of the Navajo Tribal Police. Sometimes Hillerman has Leaphorn, sometimes it's Chee, and other novels such as this one, he has both men.

Jim, a full time cop, part time shaman, who we have followed since he was an young officer
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Doug Clark
Tony Hillerman’s latest Navajo mystery, The Shape Shifter, continues his tradition of writing interesting mysteries leavened with a lesson in the Navajo culture and religion. Generally, these novels feature both the now-retired Lt. Joe Leaphorn and Sgt. Jim Chee. And although Jim Chee and his new wife, Bernie Manuelito Chee, make an appearance, it’s mainly as an audience for the story Joe Leaphorn has to tell.

The story involves a double murder (the Handys) that occurred many years before. Three
...more
Christopher Murphy
Briefly: the Navajo Mysteries saga by Tony Hillerman concerns the investigations of crimes (usually murders) on the Navajo reservation by the tribal police. The books are very well written and plotted, but their joy is really in the cultural details. The traditions, both past and present, of the Navajo people are highlighted in the works, and in fact most of the murders are either motivated by something uniquely cultural; or the method of solving the crimes involves aspects of said culture. So t ...more
Mitch Duckworth
Because I love the four-corners region of the country, and because I relate to many aspects of some the Native American cultures who inhabited the region historically, and those who remain today, I wanted to read another Tony Hillerman novel. The only other I’ve read was long ago and far away; it’s not even listed among my Books Read list because I can remember nothing about it except that I liked it reasonably well. The Shape Shifter is #18 in his Navajo Mysteries series, and the one I read yea ...more
Clark Hallman
The Shape Shifter, by Tony Hillerman, is a very enjoyable Leaphorm and Chee novel. In fact it may be my favorite Hillerman book. Joe Leaphorn is now retired the Jim Chee and Bernie Manuelito have just returned from their honeymoon. Leaphorn receives a letter from a police officer he had worked a case with long ago when he was a new law officer. In the envelope is page from Luxury Living magazine containing a photograph of a tale-teller rug hanging on the wall of a fashionable home in Flagstaff. ...more
Sarah
So, maybe I would've liked this book better if I had read all 17 that came before it. That being said, I found the mystery aspect to be lackluster and not very thrilling. Maybe that's how they all are, but I really wasn't drawn in by any of the characterizations.

My favorite aspect of the book is the description of the atmosphere and mystique of the Southwest. I just love the landscape there and Hillerman does an excellent job transporting me to this place; he does it with such skill that it seem
...more
Dale
I guess I'm pretty much done with Tony Hillerman. I read Coyote Waits several years ago, but I really don't remember much about it. At all. Seriously, it's a mystery/police procedural and I don't remember the crime committed or how it was ultimately solved. I remember there was a character who was a grad student, who would cash his measly paycheck in pennies, take them home, and look through them for pennies that had worth to coin collectors, and sell them, to stretch his paycheck farther. That' ...more
Michael Sump
It was with some sadness that I finished this book for it is the last of the very fine series of Navajo Tribal Police Mysteries written by Tony Hillerman. I love his characters (Joe Leaphorn, Jim Chee, et.al.) and his stories, but I primarily read Hillerman for his settings. He had a great command of the land forms in the 4 corners region and he could make this very unique landscape come alive for the reader. Hillerman is now gone and there will be no further additions to the series.
Charles
The Shape shifter was written in 2006 it was Hillerman's last published work. While not my favorite Hillerman book (several more to read) it is very good. In typical Hillerman fashion the plot moves quickly and the reader is drawn into the story and it's mystery as well also into it's solution. In that process newly retired Joe Leaphorn assists the wife of a former coworker to find out what has happened to her missing husband.

In the process he unravels a mystery that really is one of the most c
...more
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Tony Hillerman, who was born in Sacred Heart, Oklahoma, was a decorated combat veteran from World War II, serving as a mortarman in the 103rd Infantry Division and earning the Silver Star, the Bronze Star, and a Purple Heart. Later, he worked as a journalist from 1948 to 1962. Then he earned a Masters degree and taught journalism from 1966 to 1987 at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, wh ...more
More about Tony Hillerman...
The Blessing Way (Navajo Mysteries, #1) Skinwalkers (Navajo Mysteries, #7) A Thief of Time (Navajo Mysteries, #8) Listening Woman (Navajo Mysteries, #3) Dance Hall of the Dead (Navajo Mysteries, #2)

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