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Dance Hall of the Dead (Leaphorn & Chee #2)

really liked it 4.0  ·  Rating Details ·  8,166 Ratings  ·  328 Reviews
Two Native-American boys have vanished into thin air, leaving a pool of blood behind them. Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn of the Navajo Tribal Police has no choice but to suspect the very worst, since the blood that stains the parched New Mexican ground once flowed through the veins of one of the missing, a young Zuñi. But his investigation into a terrible crime is being complica ...more
Paperback, 255 pages
Published January 1st 1990 by HarperPaperbacks (first published 1973)
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Candace Kirchner Not especially. The mysteries stand alone. Some of the personal relationships have history that may be better appreciated in chronological order, but…moreNot especially. The mysteries stand alone. Some of the personal relationships have history that may be better appreciated in chronological order, but the stories are well enough explained within each separate book.(less)

Community Reviews

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Mar 29, 2015 Carmen rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Mystery Fans
Recommended to Carmen by: Library
It seemed to him that a single homicide could be thought of as a unit - as something in which an act of violence contained beginning and end, cause and result. But two homicides linked by time, place, participants and, most important, motivation presented something more complex. The unit became a sequence, the dot became a line, and lines tended to extend, to lead places, to move in directions.

I wasn't even going to continue with this series.

The first book, The Blessing Way, was a horrible combi
James Thane
Jul 12, 2012 James Thane rated it really liked it
Shelves: crime-fiction
This is the second of Tony Hillerman's celebrated books featuring Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn of the Navajo Tribal Police. Later, Leaphorn would be assisted by a younger officer, Jim Chee, but this book, which won The Edgar Award, belongs to Leaphorn alone.

A young Zuni Indian boy, Ernesto Cata, disappears while training for his important role in an upcoming tribal ceremony. A large pool of blood suggests that something very bad has happened to Ernesto, and Joe Leaphorn is assigned to fine Ernesto's
Apr 08, 2011 Carol. rated it really liked it
Shelves: to-buy, mystery, male-lead
One that I'll re-read to get the full effect. A plot that kept me guessing. Loads of detail about Hopi religion, which was very interesting. Settings out on the mesa and at deserted hogans. One of Hillerman's better books.
Book Concierge
Audiobook performed by George Guidall

It's book number two in Tony Hillerman's Joe Leaphorn series ... need I say more?

Good mysteries with a little Native American cultural information in the mix. I love the way Leaphorn thinks things through before acting.

George Guidall does a good job on the audio. He has good pacing and I really like the way he voices Leaphorn. There were times when Guidall’s performance transported me to my childhood, listening to my grandfather (or grandmother, or aunts or
Jun 05, 2008 Nikki rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anybody
This 1974 Edgar Best Novel winner was a re-read for me -- I've read and enjoyed all of Tony Hillerman's novels featuring Lt. Joe Leaphorn and
Sgt. Jim Chee, alone and together. And, by the time I was 7/8 of the way through it, I had remembered the motive and the perpetrator; but
Hillerman's writing maintained me in a state of suspense until the last page.

In this, one of the earliest of his Navajo novels, the character of Lt. Joe Leaphorn is just beginning to be developed. We hear nothing at all
Melissa (ladybug)
I love Tony Hillerman's books. He had a way of drawing you in and letting you learn about different Native American tribes all with a mystery attached to it.
Feb 23, 2014 Betty rated it it was amazing
This mystery features Joe Leaphorn and is set in Zuni land. Joe is called to a conference of police officers because a Zuni boy has been found almost beheaded and his best friend a Navajo, George Bowlegs is missing. Leaphorn only job is to locate the Navajo boy. As he investigated he vegans to feel George is not the killer and must him before George is killed. He has the help a white girl Susan.
There is much cultural information about the Zuni story of man's beginning and the Navajo beginning th
Lt. Joe Leaphorn of the Navajo police becomes involved in the case of the disappearance and death of a young boy in this story the second of the Leaphorn series. Ernesto a young Zuñi has been chosen to impersonate the FireGod in the incoming Zuñi sacred celebrations. He has been training so that he can run, dance and participate with great strength. Pround of the fact that he has been so honored he could't help tell his friend George about it which was improper thing todo but he needed George's ...more
Morris Graham
Jan 07, 2015 Morris Graham rated it it was amazing
A murder mystery, as usual on the Navajo reservation in the Chee-Leaphorn series. What makes this different was an indepth look at both Zuni and Navajo religeous rites and culture. This makes this more than a detective mystery, much more. It is very detailed and slow in a few places, but well worth the read. If you like to read about different cultures, this book is for you. There are some suspenseful moments that get you on the edge of your seat.

Second book in the series and winner of the 1974 Edgar for Best Mystery, this provided a unique look at the Zuni religion and Navajo life. Leaphorn is a patient policeman and the plotting was fairly deliberate but the setting made this well worth the time. Listened to the audio version which was ably read by the always good George Guidall.
Aug 10, 2015 Bill rated it really liked it
I'm so very glad that I was introduced to the Joe Leaphorn series. Dance Hall of the Dead by Tony Hillerman is book 2 and is a joy to read. It's a bit like the Longmire series, but instead told from the perspective of the Native police inspector, rather than the local police chief. I like how the story was paced, I like Joe Leaphorn very much, he's calm, quiet and thoughtful. I really enjoy the information about the various Native cultures, in this book, the Zuni and Leaphorn's Navajo. I hope as ...more
Jun 14, 2014 Steve rated it really liked it
Leaphorn, a Navajo Police Officer, becomes involved in the disappearance of two local boys, one Navajo, one Zuni. Several law enforcement agencies begin working together –“cooperating” would be overstating things - and while Leaphorn deals with finding the boys, Hillerman brings in one of the boy's families, the local hippie commune, and the area’s anthropological dig. A fascinating sidelight to all of this is our inclusion in the way Leaphorn thinks and functions, thoughtfully, patiently, liste ...more
Jan 03, 2014 Bill rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the second book in Hillerman's series set in the desert southwest of New Mexico and Arizona on or near the Navajo reservation. This book was set on the Zuni Pueblo in New Mexico. A very good mystery and an excellent series. I love his beautiful descriptions of the desert and the natural environment. This is my second reading of this series which is outstanding. Highly recommended. Five (5) stars.
Nov 13, 2011 Francoise rated it really liked it
As with several of the other reader's reviews, I must admit that this is a pleasant and enjoyable way to read a well written mystery and learn about Native American culture and history about which I don't really know much. I have read other, later books in this series and it's fun to see how Mr. Hillerman (RIP) develops Joe Leaphorn's character. I liked it!
Apr 25, 2015 Tim rated it it was amazing
This was a superb mystery, and is up there with the best I have read--it is suspenseful, engaging, informative, and rich in detail and local color. Like most of Hillerman's stuff, it is set in the Navajo country of Arizona and New Mexico. This, I believe, was his first big hit, and it won the Edgar Award.

In this story, a Zuni Indian teenager is found slashed to death. He was training to be the Fire God in an upcoming religious ceremony and he was privy to secret tribal knowledge. There is eviden
Dec 16, 2008 Ben added it
Book: Dance Hall of the Dead by Tony Hillerman

I thought that the way Hillerman based so much of the story around the secrecy of the Zuñi religion really pushed the way one had to think when reading the book.

Tony Hillerman’s, The Dance Hall of the Dead, is a very interesting telling of the murder of a Zuñi boy by the name of Ernesto Cata. It is unclear whether or not it was the boy’s best friend, George Bowlegs, who killed him. Throughout the book we are given unreliable information by the peop
Orville Jenkins
Dec 27, 2014 Orville Jenkins rated it it was amazing
About a year after hearing my first Hillerman novel audiobook, I was reading a hardback copy of Hillerman's later story of Detective Joe Leaphorn, The Shape Shifter. At that time I found more of the Hillerman audiobooks in another library branch. Finding four Hillerman audio novels there, I began to explore further Hillerman's re-creation of the cultural context of Navajo, Zuni and Apache in these mysteries.

Most of Hillerman's audiobooks are narrated by the skilled dramatic voice of George Guida
The only reason why I borrowed this from the library in the first place, was that in the last two years I've grown an interest in US states and their unique features, but also in the history and religions of indigenous peoples (actually, I should be writing an essay about Australian Aborigines right now, but oh well...). Combining New Mexican Navajo culture with murder mystery seemed too interesting to miss, although my bag was already about to throw up on the street.

The symbols on the covers of
Randee Baty
Mar 22, 2014 Randee Baty rated it it was amazing
My public library book discussion group picked this as part of a series on Native American mysteries. I had read it 25 years ago but didn't really remember much about it. I'm so glad I had a reason to re-read it! Yay for public libraries!

Joe Leaphorn is a Navajo Tribal Policeman and is called in to help find a young Navajo boy, George Bowlegs, when George's best friend, a young Zuni boy, is killed. Having both a Zuni and a Navajo involved in a case presents all sorts of jurisdictional issues for
Dec 26, 2013 Dale rated it it was amazing
A Review of the Audiobook

Originally published in 1973.
Audiobook version released in 2005 by Harper Audio.
Read by George Guidall.
Duration: Approximately 6 hours.

Winner of the 1974 Edgar Award, Dance Hall of the Dead is an early entry in the Leaphorn series and is one of the best.

Joe Leaphorn of the Navajo Tribal Police is called into a case that technically occurred on the Zuni reservation but there is a Navajo involved. Ernesto Cata, a middle school-aged Zuni boy and his friend Georg
Mar 21, 2011 Kate rated it liked it
Navajo Tribal Policeman Lt. Joe Leaphorn investigates the bloody disappearance of a Zuñi boy mixed in with the events at an archaeological dig and a hippie commune.

The character of Joe Leaphorn is calm and likable. I enjoy reading stories told through his personality. He is highly observant, especially when it comes to cultural differences between Navajo and white men. In this book, the Zuñi culture is introduced, presenting an amazing set of vocabulary, folklore, and custom. A boy, Ernesto, is
Jul 03, 2013 David rated it liked it
Tony Hillerman's Navajo mysteries are a wonderful change of pace for any reader. The reader will pick up Native American lore, some tips on tracking, and learn about Native American etiquette. All of this with a pretty interesting mystery.

I was disappointed that I figured out who the murderer was early on in the story, but for the wrong reasons. There were some tempting red herrings, but I locked in on the bad guy. Sadly, I was disappointed in the final resolution.. It was sort of like a small
May 23, 2014 astaliegurec rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Tony Hillerman's "Dance Hall of the Dead" is a very well done book. The writing is really well done, Joe Leaphorn has been nicely fleshed out from the first book, and the dichotomy in world views he's presenting is darn interesting. About the only thing I can ding is that the mystery is fairly obvious from pretty near the beginning. But, still, it's a very well done, enjoyable book. I rate it at a Very Good 4 stars out of 5.

Hillerman's "Leaphorn & Chee" novels are:

1. The Blessing Way
2. Dance
Julie Davis
Apr 24, 2014 Julie Davis rated it it was ok
This was a real step down from Hillerman's first book, The Blessing Way. I knew why the murder was done as soon as a particular incident was described and, therefore, who the culprit was upon first meeting. I kept reading because I enjoyed the environment and description of the Zuni through Joe Leaphorn's eyes. In particular, I enjoyed his conversation with the local priest where the conversation turned into a working comparison of Navaho, Zuni, and Catholic beliefs about the after life and one' ...more
Jamie Barringer (Ravenmount)
It took me forever to get into this book, though the plot and setting were interesting enough. I found the characters underdeveloped and hard to relate to, so it was hard to care about what they were doing and saying. Still, this was a nicely creative story and involves some elements of Native American cultures that don't often figure in murder mysteries.
Aug 30, 2013 Kelleher rated it it was amazing
Shelves: contemporary
this was one of those books that was a great read from start to finish. a mystery, yes, but with great characters, incredible but not intrusive landscape descriptions and insights into native american culture. I'd recommend it to everyone.
Dec 18, 2016 Cybercrone rated it liked it
Good solid Hillerman - which I like.
Mar 20, 2015 Ron rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the second in Hillerman's Joe Leaphorn series and was first published in 1973. It is a stronger book than the first book, "The Blessing Way." In the first book Leaphorn was almost a secondary character, whereas here he is clearly in the front and we follow his investigation into the disappearance of two youths - one probably dead and the other either the guilty party or hiding for fear of losing his life also. In fact it struck me how different Leaphorn was in each book - perhaps Hillerm ...more
Steve Green
Jun 25, 2014 Steve Green rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
In this story we have to guess why Lt. Joe Leaphorn ignores his duty as an officer of the law and doesn't pursue criminal activity. The author assumes we have intimate knowledge of Leaphorn's ways and that he is only interested in a narrow view of his duties. I HATE when authors throw a red herring into show that they can produce words for no reason whatever. As is the case with the commune. The first time he is there Otis is on a bad trip. Either on peyote :or worse The next time they are worki ...more
Sep 28, 2015 Mary rated it liked it
The problem with reading a lot of mystery novels is you start to expect more each time. You look for the shock value with twists and turns. When authors use manipulation to trick the reader, you squeal with glee because they gotcha.

Reading the Navajo Mysteries by Tony Hillerman, I'm starting to wonder if these expectations are a product of the new world we live in. Everyone wants more, more, more. Faster internet, phones that aren't really phones but mini-computers, cars that can drive themselv
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Play Book Tag: Dance Hall of the Dead / Tony Hillerman - 3*** 3 12 Mar 27, 2016 09:16AM  
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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...

Other Books in the Series

Leaphorn & Chee (1 - 10 of 21 books)
  • The Blessing Way (Leaphorn & Chee, #1)
  • Listening Woman (Leaphorn & Chee, #3)
  • People of Darkness (Leaphorn & Chee, #4)
  • The Dark Wind (Leaphorn & Chee, #5)
  • The Ghostway (Leaphorn & Chee, #6)
  • Skinwalkers (Leaphorn & Chee, #7)
  • A Thief of Time (Leaphorn & Chee, #8)
  • Talking God (Leaphorn & Chee, #9)
  • Coyote Waits (Leaphorn & Chee, #10)
  • Sacred Clowns (Leaphorn & Chee, #11)

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