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Dance Hall of the Dead (Navajo Mysteries, #2)
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Dance Hall of the Dead (Navajo Mysteries #2)

3.98 of 5 stars 3.98  ·  rating details  ·  6,448 ratings  ·  224 reviews
Two young boys suddenly disappear. One of them, a Zuni, leaves a pool of blood behind. Lt. Joe Leaphorn of the Navajo tribal Police tracks the brutal killer. Three things complicate the search: an archeological dig, a steel hypodermic needle, and the strange laws of the Zuni. Compelling, terrifying, and highly suspenseful, "Dance Hall of the Dead" never relents from first ...more
Paperback, 255 pages
Published April 4th 1990 by HarperPaperbacks (first published 1973)
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Best Crime & Mystery Books
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Community Reviews

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James Thane
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
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.
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.
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
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 boys’ 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
Julie Davis
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
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
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
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
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
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
Morris Graham
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.

Orville Jenkins
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
Steve Green
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
Plus d'un an entre le premier tome de Hillerman et ce deuxième tome, Dance Hall of the Dead, dérogeant ainsi à mon habitude terriblement chronophage de dévorer au moins quelques tomes consécutifs d'une séries en quelques jours. Je ne comprend pas ce qui s'est passé. Il semble cependant que ce soit une habitude à prendre: patience, pas de lassitude trop rapide, et un peu de place pour d'autres livres qui m'attendent (patiemment?) depuis des lustres.

Revenons en à nos bouquins.
Dans Dance Hall of th
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
Lillian Carl
I'm still working my way through Tony Hillerman's Navajo mysteries. This is a very early one, I believe the first one to feature Joe Leaphorn. A young Zuni is killed and Leaphorn investigates, tiptoeing his way through Indian bureaucracy as well as that of the FBI, to say nothing of working his way past archaeologists and hippies.

It's a shame I happened to read it right after The Dark Wind, since the plots are similar in some ways, with Leaphorn dealing with Zuni culture the way Chee had to deal
I was browsing the shelves at the library and came across this little gem. I like to read about people and places different from myself and my own corner of the world. This was a murder mystery that took place in New Mexico and the protagonist is a Navajo policeman.

What I liked: The quiet competence of the protagonist. He is not superman. He is an introspective, thinking man. He is not a genius or academic. He is observant and knows when to just listen. I liked the insight into the mind of a Fi
Randee Baty
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
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
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!
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.
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
Nancy Werking Poling
This was a great book to listen to while traveling up and down Route 81. My husband and I kept trying to decide if the narrator or the writing made the story so compelling. Probably some of both. The mystery is a lesson in anthropology, as Hillerman educates us about Navaho religious practices. Lieutenant Leaphorn models deliberate and thorough thinking; a Catholic priest' models respect for the people and traditions.

As soon as I got home, I went to the library and checked out another Hillerman
This is the second book in the "Navajo Detective" series by Tony Hillerman, and the first in which detective Joe Leaphorn is the principal character. Although Leaphorn did appear in “The Blessing Way,” Hillerman had not yet crafted him into a principal character. With the "Dance Hall of the Dead" Tony Hillerman's Joe Leaphorn takes his place as a dynamic main character in this series. This is a great mystery which won the 1974 Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America for Best Novel of the ...more
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Dance Hall of the Dead, was my first encounter with Tony Hillerman. I know this is scandalous, because I live in the Southwest. Blasphemous perhaps! Before you start judging me please realize that I have read other Southwestern literature classics like Rudolfo Anaya’s Bless Me Ultima, which I enjoyed.

I did not hate Dance Hall of the Dead, but it is not my cup of tea. After talking with family and friends, I realize that I hav
Loved the setting and atmosphere as always, but the plot of this one kind of lost me. Only kind of, though. It was just a little "busy" with over-detail. I like the works of Hillerman in which the setting is efficiently and smoothly captured, rather than in this one, where it's glutted with minutiae about specific ridges and curves in the road, etc., and other stuff that doesn't really contribute anything to the atmosphere. Also, I felt there was a little too much academic anthropology detail in ...more
Indian Country
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 Zuni. But his investigation into a terrible crime is being complicated by an important archaeological dig...and a steel hypodermic needle. The unique laws and sacred religious rights of the Zu ...more
Chris De Vito
The Native American mystery, "Dance Hall of the Dead" by Tony Hillerman was a very interesting story. I though the book was okay but not terrific. Felt as though it was very easy to get lost while reading the story because there were so many different characters and events all happening rapidly that it was difficult to make sense of all of it. The beginning of the story was really difficult to follow and I found myself re-reading it a few times to make sense of the events occurring while the sto ...more
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Southwest High Desert Murder Mystery 12 45 Feb 12, 2014 07:01AM  
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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

Navajo Mysteries (1 - 10 of 20 books)
  • The Blessing Way
  • Listening Woman (Navajo Mysteries, #3)
  • People of Darkness (Navajo Mysteries, #4)
  • The Dark Wind (Navajo Mysteries, #5)
  • The Ghostway (Navajo Mysteries, #6)
  • Skinwalkers (Navajo Mysteries, #7)
  • A Thief of Time (Navajo Mysteries, #8)
  • Talking God (Navajo Mysteries, #9)
  • Coyote Waits (Navajo Mysteries, #10)
  • Sacred Clowns (Navajo Mysteries, #11)
The Blessing Way Skinwalkers (Navajo Mysteries, #7) A Thief of Time (Navajo Mysteries, #8) Listening Woman (Navajo Mysteries, #3) The Ghostway (Navajo Mysteries, #6)

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