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The First Eagle (Leaphorn & Chee #13)

4.01  ·  Rating Details  ·  4,263 Ratings  ·  168 Reviews
When Acting Lt. Jim Chee catches a Hopi poacher huddled over a butchered Navajo Tribal police officer, he has an open-and-shut case--until his former boss, Joe Leaphorn, blows it wide open. Now retired from the Navajo Tribal Police, Leaphorn has been hired to find a hot-headed female biologist hunting for the key to a virulent plague lurking in the Southwest. The scientist ...more
Paperback, 319 pages
Published June 3rd 1999 by HarperTorch (first published January 1st 1998)
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A Thief of Time by Tony HillermanSkinwalkers by Tony HillermanThe Blessing Way by Tony HillermanDance Hall of the Dead by Tony HillermanTalking God by Tony Hillerman
Native American Detectives
18th out of 80 books — 55 voters
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman AlexieThe Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven by Sherman AlexieBeyond Oria Falls by Sheryl SealLove Medicine by Louise ErdrichCeremony by Leslie Marmon Silko
Native American Fiction
97th out of 588 books — 534 voters

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Community Reviews

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Mar 28, 2016 Carmen rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Mystery Fans
"Always liked that about you guys," he said. "Four days of grief and mourning for the spirit, and then get on with life. How did we white folks get into this corpse worship business? It's just dead meat, and dangerous to boot."

Surprisingly, this book is about The Plague. Some scientists on on the Rez testing prairie dog fleas for strains of The Plague.

One of the researchers, a 30-year-old woman, goes missing. Leaphorn is hired as a private detective by the woman's elderly relative to find her. S
Michael Fox
May 03, 2015 Michael Fox rated it really liked it
There are many things to like about Tony Hillerman's Navajo Tribal Police mysteries, yet foremost (in my mind at least) is how he builds them on relationships. In this story, the relationship between Joe Leaphorn and Louisa Bourbonette continues to evolve. It finds a comfortable place in friendship. Also, the Jim Chee and Janet Pete relationship continues its brittle slide as Chee follows his concise to help a wrongly arrested man gain freedom. Then, there is the budding of a relationship with O ...more
Feb 09, 2016 Silvio111 rated it really liked it

Note: I just read this book for the 2nd time - I still do not think Louisa is necessary and she is still really irritating.
Pretty good, except for the totally annoying presence of Louisa Bourbonette, whose "collaboration" Joe Leaphorn is completely improbable. I readily acknowledge that she pisses me off because I am loyal to Leaphorn's late wife, Emma, who was a solid, loveable, intelligent, and dignified woman who occupi
Ed Mestre
Nov 05, 2011 Ed Mestre rated it liked it
Tony Hillerman can always be counted on for a quick, enjoyable read. Unlike Patricia Cornwell's "Body Farm" I recently reviewed it doesn't have the handicap of sounding a bit dated no matter when it was published. That's because these mystery solvers don't rely on the latest forensics & computers to come up with the solution. It has to do with relationships. Relationships to their culture, community, & most of all the land of the four corners area of the American Southwest. The space &am ...more
Oct 26, 2007 Jo rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: everone
Shelves: mystery, arizonia
Lots of intresting details, good research, but I was not really in suspence. Really wonderfull charecters too.
Later-I discussed this with a goodreads friend and 2 others and came to relize this was #14 in a series. I may go back and read #1 down the road. The anthropology was a blast.
Apr 14, 2016 Maddy rated it liked it
Shelves: 2016-reads
PROTAGONIST: Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee
SETTING: New Mexico
SERIES: #13 of 18
RATING: 3.25
WHY: Joe Leaphorn has retired from the Navajo Tribal police and has warily accepted a private investigation. He is looking for a missing biologist who was researching immune issues after a man died of the Bubonic plague. This plot thread was not exactly riveting; too much time was spent on it for my taste. Meanwhile, Acting Lieutenant Jim Chee is investigating the murder of a fellow officer. The cases appear re
David Bryant
Aug 31, 2015 David Bryant rated it it was amazing
Recently re-read this as well as another one from the series, probably 10 years or more since I first read either one, and it was still extremely enjoyable. I love the way Hillerman explains and respects the Navajos and other Native American groups, but is also able to portray their differences and conflicts. His love of the southwest is always present as well.
The book has the usual lead characters, Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee, and several others are familiar as well -- Janet Peet in particular. J
Mark Robertson
Nov 19, 2014 Mark Robertson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The legendary Lieutenant Leaphorn is retired but still investigating mysteries on the reservation, and it's a good thing, as his insights are invaluable to his longtime subordinate Jim Chee. In this mystery Chee's focused on the murder of a Navajo police officer under his command while Leaphorn is investigating the disappearance of a field scientist looking for the source of bubonic plague that's killed a couple of Indians. The researcher disappeared on the same day that the officer was murdered ...more
Bobby Underwood
Nov 19, 2014 Bobby Underwood rated it it was amazing
Tony Hillerman has once again created a fresh and involving entry in his fine series about the Navajo Tribal Police. In this one, the retired Leaphorn is at loose ends after the death of his beloved wife, Emma. Chee, meanwhile, has become acting Lieutenant, but is experiencing reservations over the possibility that it might become permanent. There is a little less of the Navajo mysticism in this entry, but the vast territory covered by the Navajo Tribal Police is given its due as always.

Jun 14, 2014 astaliegurec rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
OK. Yet another 3-1/2 stars instead of the official Very Good 4 stars out of 5 showing here. I'm going to assume that since "The First Eagle" is the 13th book in Tony Hillerman's "Leaphorn & Chee" series, the people reading this by now know how Hillerman writes. This is mostly that. However, there are problems. The most trivial is that the Kindle version has a lot of OCR/editing issues. Next, the little inconsistencies in technical writing that I noticed in the last book ("The Fallen Man") a ...more
Jan 19, 2009 Kristen rated it it was amazing
I've read and enjoyed many of Hillerman's Navajo Tribal Police novels, though apparently not during this past year, and not this one before. These are low-key mysteries, in which the police characters - Jim Chee and the (now-retired) Lt. Joe Leaphorn - work methodically toward solving their problems. Leaphorn is a traditional thinking detective in many ways - I might compare him to Simenon's Maigret, except the two writers' narrative styles are so different. In this particular novel, there are t ...more
Mar 03, 2012 Sull rated it liked it
Recommended to Sull by: Library find
Missed this one, a good one, somehow when I was reading these years (decades) ago. I'm finding these Hillerman Navaho mysteries so full of meaning now, especially the ones dealing with retired policeman Leaphorn. I think I was bored with these slower (sadder) stories when I read this series in my 20s, but now that I'm inching trepidaciously into my 60s, I'm consuming these tales of elderly retirees & wily shamans working together with more interest, more need. Back then I guess I liked the m ...more
Aug 28, 2011 Diana rated it liked it
I really like Tony Hillerman's book. One of the things I like is that they are set in the 4 corners area and I have spent a little time there. Hillerman is good at explaining some things about Indian culture (several different tribes) This book is about a group of people, from several agencies, studying plague and other diseases that have become more virulent due to the overuse of antibiotics. At the beginning to the story a man has just died of plague contracted from fleas on prairie dogs. I ha ...more
James Korsmo
Nov 02, 2015 James Korsmo rated it really liked it
I have long been a lover of Tony Hillerman stories. I enjoy the cultural landscape that surrounds his mysteries, and appreciate the cultural tensions in which his characters struggle and flourish. This book displays that same depth with the same quality mystery that typifies Hillerman's work. Now, his writing isn't as deep as P. D. James, but that's okay. Jim Chee and Joe Leaphorn are two good main characters, and they again put their detecting skills to work to solve a murder and a disappearanc ...more
Mary Helene
Dec 19, 2010 Mary Helene rated it really liked it
Shelves: mysteries
This really had everything I want in a mystery: decent writing, evocative setting, and reflections on relationships: ethical, romantic and fraternal. Joe Leaphorn, Jim Chee and "Cowboy" all love each other; other characters support that love. It's worth taking to heart. The plot: a bit clunky, but only because it wasn't the point. The plot was adequate to carry the rest, and even clever. I've been thinking about the ending and it's satisfying.
The author mentions two other books in passing, which
Orville Jenkins
Dec 27, 2014 Orville Jenkins rated it it was amazing
A murder mystery and a medical mystery coincide with the appearance of bubonic plague on the reservation. The usual FBI swaggers appear as comic relief in the Hillerman style, referred to by Navajo Police Detective Jim Chee as the Federal Bureau of Incompetence.

With the rich cultural backdrops, the brusque Feds always manage to overlook the sensitive worldview issues. They come off looking stupid due to their arrogance and ignorance of the local factors in a case. George Guidall's clear vocal ac
Jul 02, 2010 Erica rated it liked it
I'm not normally a great lover of mysteries, but since my work for the Park Service has me researching the Navajo, I thought I'd better listen to one of Hillerman's books on my drive home last month. As far as mysteries go, I did not find the First Eagle terribly suspenseful. It was quite obvious that the accused murderer was not the murderer, and no one seemed to be in any danger of anything while the real murderer was ever so slowly tracked down. I also found the book tediously full of details ...more
Mar 17, 2013 Elvira rated it really liked it
As a retired academic biologist, I found the book interesting because it depicts, albeit exaggerated, competition between scientists. The plot reminded me of one of Hillerman's earlier books in which competition between several archeologists resulted in murder for the sake of claim and fame over theories and artifacts. Shades of this competition does exist in academia and research, but not to the point of murder, obviously. Regardless, Hillerman's novels use murder/crime as a trope for plot deve ...more
Patrick Gibson
From most authors, this would be an impressive book. From Hillerman, it is not. He was coasting with this one -- worth reading, but don't buy it unless, like me, you find it at the used bookstore.Yes, it has Jim Chee and Joe Leaphorn, and it's set on the reservation. But the precipitating conflict is between two non-Native American researchers on the reservation. Leaphorn gets hired by one of the researcher's parents to solve her disappearance. Glimpses of Navajo culture and thinking, and Hopi c ...more
Morris Graham
Oct 22, 2013 Morris Graham rated it it was amazing
A Hopi eagle poacher, the murder of a Navajo Tribal Policeman, a missing vector control agent sudying bubonic plague cases among the prairie dog burrows... Follow retired NTP Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn and acting Lieutenant Jim Chee on their search for the truth. This story is full of angles, troubles between local law enforcement on the reservation and the FBI, along with the return back to the reservation of Chee's half Navajo ex-fiance turned public defender that makes this novel a spellbinding ...more
Susan  Odetta
Mar 05, 2011 Susan Odetta rated it it was amazing
Shelves: rated-five-stars
I thought I had read every single book Tony Hillerman ever wrote, but I'm not sure about this one. Either I have read it and lost it in the recesses of my aging brain, or I missed it. Either way I'm enjoying reading it (again?).

OK....I never read this on before and it is as wonderful as all of Hillerman's Jim Chee/Joe Leaphorn stories. Hillerman is one of those rare writers who, like Alexander McCall Smith, takes you to a location in such a way that you can feel and know the place as if you are
Robert Walton
Oct 09, 2014 Robert Walton rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mysteries
This book is especially resonant in the age of Ebola. Tony Hillerman and Edward Abbey are the great champions of of the Southwest, though only Hillerman embraces the natural world as an active character in his novels. That world seizes primacy in First Eagle. Old friends Leaphorn, Chee and McGinnes have their thoughtful conversations, but they and the other characters float upon deadly, murderous currents. In trying to resolve the death of a murdered policeman and the fate of a missing woman, th ...more
Mary Ellen
Dec 06, 2014 Mary Ellen rated it really liked it
Both of Hillerman's detectives are in new positions that don't quite fit: Joe Leaphorn is spending his retirement acting like a cop and Jim Chee, Acting Lieutenant, avoids supervisory duties by plunging deep into the investigation of the murder of one of his officers. I love the contrast between "modern" Leaphorn and "traditional" Chee and the bits here and there about Navajo (and to a lesser extent, Hopi) belief and practice, which gradually add up to presentation of a whole world view.

My seco
Ed Klein
May 27, 2016 Ed Klein rated it really liked it
It has been years since I read a Hillerman book ; this one made me wonder why ?
Eric Smith
Nov 21, 2015 Eric Smith rated it liked it
Shelves: popular, fiction
Tony Hillerman was one of my father’s favorite authors and an upcoming trip to New Mexico finally pulled me into reading one of the novels. I chose this one at random. It is about two Native American detectives who live on the Navaho Reservation in New Mexico and solve a crime. The book moves briskly, has goods amounts of local color and native traditions, and the story is about the plague–the bubonic plague–which I was surprised to learn still exists in prairie dogs, rabbits, and other small ma ...more
Elizabeth Mosley
Jul 31, 2014 Elizabeth Mosley rated it it was ok
I didn't really enjoy this Leaphorn/Chee mystery. The main plot hinges around the disappearance of a "vector specialist," a woman who works for the NIH studying diseases in rodents. I felt like much of the book was a rehashing of biology class. It was technical and boring, and there wasn't nearly enough character development for me to care about any of the main figures. Even Chee and Leaphorn's characters got short shrift in this book.
Sylvia McIvers
Nice show of Indian beliefs, a little about life on the reservation, and a missing woman who is (surprise!) actually dead. The first eagle was a witness to the murder... sort of.

Add a little plague, and you've got some urgency to solving the case. The plague-solver is a complete jackass, and isn't interested in solving the murder of a single person - its far more important to solve the mystery of the plague, which can kill millions.
John McDonald
May 01, 2016 John McDonald rated it it was amazing
Joe Leaphorn is mourning Emma's death but has found a woman whose kindness and brains are making him want to be around her. Jim Chee has noticed Janet Pete's return from Washington, D.C.
Leaphorn working as a private investigator and Chee are seeking evidence related to the murder of a Tribal Police Officer but when Chee finds the First Eagle, with blood of the perpetrator on its talons, evidence which is exculpatory of the Hopi who is being held for the murder, the FBI tells him to ditch it, sin
Nov 05, 2015 Janel rated it really liked it
I think because I am reading this series in order, I love the stories even more than I did the first time. Characters that show up sporadically in the books are fresher in my mind and therefore I don't spend time trying to remember their back story.

This book is not as enjoyable if you have not read previous Leaphorn/Chee stories. I loved everything about this story.

I am sadly getting closer to the final Tony Hillerman story.
Aug 01, 2015 Maggie rated it really liked it
Mixed in with the murder of a Tribal Police Officer in this installment of the Leaphorn and Chee mysteries is drug-resistant bubonic plague. Thus, it is heavily science laden, but still very entertaining. As usual, all is neatly solved in the end, to our satisfaction, if not surprise. Best of all, I think we may have seen the last of Janet Pete, as least as Chee's enamorata. Yipee!
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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 20 books)
  • The Blessing Way (Leaphorn & Chee, #1)
  • Dance Hall of the Dead (Leaphorn & Chee, #2)
  • 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)

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