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Talking God (Leaphorn & Chee #9)

4.02  ·  Rating Details ·  5,907 Ratings  ·  179 Reviews
A grave robber and a corpse reunite Navajo Tribal Police Lt. Joe Leaphorn and Officer Jim Chee. As Leaphorn seeks the identify of a murder victim, Chee is arresting Smithsonian conservator Henry Highhawk for ransacking the sacred bones of his anscestors. As the layers of each case are peeled away, it becomes shockingly clear that they are connected, that there are ...more
Paperback, 338 pages
Published December 1st 1990 by HarperTorch (first published 1989)
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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
5th out of 80 books — 55 voters
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Native American Fiction
46th out of 592 books — 557 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Oct 27, 2015 Carmen rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Mystery Fans
Recommended to Carmen by: Library
"What brings you off the reservation on such an inclement Saturday evening?"

What, indeed? Old friend, I am running from Emma's ghost, Leaphorn thought. I am running from my own loneliness. I am running away from craziness.

Another solid entry in Hillerman's Navajo Mystery series.

Leaphorn and Chee go to Washington (separately) only to find out - once again - that they are working the same case from two different angles.

This book involves terrorists, Augusto Pinochet, a man who is 1/4 Navajo and 3/
Joe Leaphorn is called out to look at corpse found near railroad. The question who he is and how it place aroused he curiosity. The answer takes him to Washington, DC. Jim Chee has an arrest warrant Henry Nighthawk. He learns that Nighthawk will be at an Yeibichai (Talking God). Jim arrest Henry who is immediately bailed out. Jim Chee has vacation coming and goes the nation capitol. He meets Joe Leaphorn there and cases are brought together skillfully. The ending is unusual. The data on the ...more
Sep 15, 2013 Elizabeth rated it really liked it
This is a unique mystery in that the voices of the different characters are all brought to life so well. In some mystery books the author is so focused on the mystery that they forget to add that touch of personality to their characters, and voice really is a defining part of a character when you are reading. There are few things more rewarding then reading a good mystery novel and part of being able to do this is keeping characters separate in your mind. The best way to do this if you have a ...more
Jun 06, 2014 astaliegurec rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was surprised by how good Tony Hillerman's "Talking God" is (9th in his "Leaphorn & Chee" novels). Once he moved the venue to Washington D.C., I figured the book would lose a lot of its luster (just as "The Ghostway" did with Los Angeles). Surprisingly, it did not. I suppose it's because Hillerman focuses on just a few areas of D.C. instead of wandering through it as he did in L.A.. And, of course, having both Leaphorn and Chee pulling on their own ends of the elephant until they meet in ...more
Oct 20, 2015 Marti rated it really liked it
We have both Joe Leaphorn, now retired, and Jim Chee in this book which takes them away to Washington, DC. Naturally, there is a murder, and a fair amount about Navaho fetishes of gods--rather fascinating. One bad guy makes a representation of Talking God. He is a white man who wants to become a Navaho--gets killed. Both women in Chee's life show up
Aug 24, 2016 Patrick rated it it was amazing
Somehow Leaphorn and Chee both wind up in Washington DC trying to solve a mysterious murder. If you can imagine to indians taking on DC, then you can believe anything. And they manage to do this on their vacation time, since no one seems much interested in solving it. Anyway this was a fun read. Maybe the indians ought to take on more issues with DC. We might be better off.
May 23, 2013 Shannon rated it really liked it
Really enjoy these books - this one was one of the best so far. Includes assassination plots and theft plots and expert reproductions at the Smithsonian so most of the book takes place in DC but it's interesting. Leaphorn and Chee work together but not until the end - thought it was great how Hillerman had their paths cross over basically the same problem but from two different angles.
Scott Whitney
Mar 21, 2016 Scott Whitney rated it it was amazing
I really enjoy the interaction between Leaphorn and Chee. In this book, that interaction was throughout the last half of the book. The mystery was good and things came together well before the end of the book. There needed to be a second murder in the middle of the book which then needed to be solved. Most of the book takes place off the reservation. A very good book.
Stephanie Pieck
Nov 07, 2016 Stephanie Pieck rated it really liked it
Shelves: audio
Tony Hillerman’s Talking God is a study in contrasts. The extremely logical, orderly Joe Leaphorn is called out to look at a corpse found along railroad tracks in New Mexico. The body has been stripped of every identifying clue—no wallet, nothing in the pockets, no labels in the clothing, no luggage. Even the false teeth are gone. It’s not really his case, but since he’s noted for his skill at tracking, he’s asked to check the surrounding area for anything that could further the investigation. ...more
Nov 04, 2016 Hana rated it really liked it
Three and a half stars, rounded up because it had dioramas and the Smithsonian in it. My favorite museum growing up in New York was the Metropolitan Museum of Natural History with its amazing dioramas.

Here a MMNH curator touches up the all-time best hunting wolf diorama.

Until reading Tony Hillerman's Talking God I did not realize that the Smithsonian once had dioramas of Native American life. These Victorian installations came to be frowned on as disrespectful and have been removed but they mus
Nov 02, 2016 Jewels rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: not-owned
I always enjoy it when Leaphorn and Chee team up. I like it that their relationship is one of mutual respect but also a little bit competitive too. Having them plopped down in Washington DC on two separate paths and then coming together to solve one big case was brilliant.
Nancy Cook-senn
Oct 16, 2016 Nancy Cook-senn rated it liked it
Chee and Leaphorn are fish out of water in Washington, D.C., tracking the murderer of a man dumped beside railroad tracks near the reservation and a Navajo wannabe museum curator. As they navigate uncomfortable terrain, they each deal with personal loss.
Sep 28, 2016 Steve rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mature Hillerman Leaphorn/Chee novel--as much dealing with the personality development of the two Navaho Tribal Police officers as with the mystery itself.
Richard Thompson
Dec 18, 2014 Richard Thompson rated it really liked it
We read all of Hillerman's Leaphorn and Chee mysteries years ago, and were sorry to see the series sputter out with his last two or three books...

I wanted to include one of Hillerman's Navajo mysteries in the Bump Memorial Library as what I a calling a "delegate" book — one book that will stand as a representative of the whole series. We enjoyed this book again on a second reading, but it won't be the "delegate." The thing we particularly enjoyed in a books (apart from the usually well crafted
Patrick Gibson
I am reading Hillermans novels in order. I’m glad I have nine under my belt because if I had read this one first, it would have been my last. Everyone is allowed a dud or two. The other novels have been so good perhaps he set the bar too high. Nah, this one is just a weed.
Chee and Leaphorn travel to Washington DC in an attempt to uncover mysteries that nag upon their souls. I won't talk very much about the plot because it is so friggin convoluted there will be a few times you will audibly utter
R J Mirabal
Feb 21, 2016 R J Mirabal rated it really liked it
Classic Tony Hillerman featuring both Leaphorn and Chee. Different main setting, though, in Washington DC. The twists and turns are good, I particularly enjoyed the supporting character of Leroy Fleck, the skillful but under-appreciated hit man with the inferiority and victim complexes. The details about this character and his life are quite interesting and make Leaphorn and Chee pale in comparison.
As a matter of fact, I thought Leaphorn and Chee were somewhat shortchanged in this tale which is
Mark Robertson
Mar 04, 2015 Mark Robertson rated it liked it
This book was different than the others that I've read in the series in that most of the action occurs off the reservation. Chee ends up in Washington, D.C. to visit Janet Pete and Leaphorn goes to Washington to see if he can learn the identity of a dead man whose corpse was found in New Mexico. Chee's love life has fallen apart and it's only been about a year since Leaphorn's wife died.

In Leaphorn's world there are no coincidences. Not in Tony Hillerman's, either. The murder in New Mexico is t
Sep 07, 2016 Valerie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ça c'est du roman noir métaphysique, anthropologique, magnifique. Le style de Tony Hillerman est efficace et son propos magnifique. Pour moi il fait écho aux problématiques de ce monde à la perte que nous subissons chaque jour de la voie de la beauté, à la destruction de la terre, à la destruction des individus au nom de quoi ? d'une quête du pouvoir ? d'une quête du fric ?
Je pense que ce Tony Hillerman est mon préféré ! Ne commencez peut-être pas par celui-là si vous ne connaissez pas cet auteu
Aug 08, 2013 Diana rated it really liked it
Jim Chee is a Navajo Tribal Policeman. He is sent to a tribal cermony for an Indian woman who is dying. At the ceremony, he is to arrest a man, Henry Highhawk, who is wanted for digging up graves of white people. This is to get even with the thousands of graves that were dug up by whites so they could study them. The book says there are still thousands of Indian remains at the Smithsonian. Hightower looks white but claims to be part Indian.
An older Navajo detective, Joe Leaphorn, is trying to
Jul 27, 2010 Matt rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 27, 2016 Peggy rated it it was amazing
I listened to this audiobook. This is a book in the series about Joe Leaphorn / Jim Chee. Joe is a lieutenant with the Navajo Tribal Police in Arizona. Jim Chee is a younger officer who sometimes works with Joe. Jim is stationed in New Mexico. In this book both men are looking into different cases, totally separate. Joe is asked to help look into the death of a stranger found near some railroad tracks. Jim is miles away at a traditional Navajo healing ceremony, arresting a White man who is ...more
Apr 12, 2012 Patty rated it really liked it
Joe Leaphorn is working on a case that involves a dead body found beside the Amtrak rails just outside of Gallup, NM. At the same time Jim Chee is given an outstanding warrant on a white man who is claiming 1/4 Navaho blood, the warrant is for stealing bodies.

Somehow these two very diverse stories both end up in Washington, D.C. where Leaphorn and Chee start working together to try and found out how the two cases intertwine. Since neither really believe in coincidence they are sure it isn't acci
Apr 15, 2009 Mike rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery
I have always said that Tony Hillerman is an excellent author, and I have yet to read a book of his that I didn't like, so I've started just ranking them against each other rather than against other books.

This probably isn't one of my favourites of his, but for niggling and minor reasons: it's one of his earlier books, and I found myself constantly thinking ahead of the characters and their development ("oh, I know this relationship ends up breaking up in the next book..."); and the plot line is
Jul 30, 2012 Abby added it
Because I'm from the Four Corners area, people ask me about Tony Hillerman all the time. Usually they want to know if his books are "accurate." And I have to answer that I have no idea, because I've never read them. I read this one (middle of the series) because it's the one that was discarded from the Kirtland High School Library. Such is my reasoning.

This is solid, middle-of-the-road entertainment, and like most people,I enjoyed it. I'm also intrigued--Mr. Hillerman is one of the few white guy
Feb 01, 2012 Spotsalots added it
Shelves: fiction, mystery
I found this enjoyable to reread--in the twenty years or so since I last read it, I had forgotten everything about it except the Navajo policemen who appear in the series, which is an alarming comment on the state of my memory. In any case, while I was reading, the book kept my attention well, but once I finished it, I wasn't as happy with it. The crime to be unraveled is interesting while still being unraveled, but once everything is figured out at the end, I'm afraid the entire crime setup is ...more
Apr 18, 2011 Carol rated it really liked it
Hillerman he writes mysteries set largely in New Mexico, on a Navajo reservation, and solved by one or both of his Navajo Tribal Police protagonists, Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee. The mysteries aren't particularly complex, but the writing is most enjoyable. The real selling point of these books, though, is the depiction of modern Navajo life, holds a good deal of fascination. That being said, this particular installment -- in which Leaphorn and Chee both head to Washington, DC in a plot revolving ...more
Apr 06, 2009 John rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
For those who don't know Hillerman: he writes mysteries set largely in New Mexico, on a Navajo reservation, and solved by one or both of his Navajo Tribal Police protagonists, Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee. The mysteries aren't particularly complex, but the writing is snappy. The real selling point of these books, though, is the depiction of modern Navajo life, which (at least for this Midwestern city boy) holds a good deal of fascination. That being said, this particular installment -- in which ...more
Jan 18, 2016 Doris rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Navajo police office Jim Chee is sent to arrest a would-be Navajo (he claims ancestry from a grandmother). The charge? Grave robbing, of a pair of white graves, in an effort to reclaim the bones of Indians from the museum. Misguided but well-intentioned, the man is tracked to the reservation, arrested, and sent back to DC, where his legal representation is Jim's former girlfriend, Janet Pete.

While Chee is researching related issues, his former boss, Joe Leaphorn, has his own investigation. Toge
Lillian Carl
In this installment of the always entertaining Leaphorn/Chee mystery series, both
detectives are drawn into different aspects of a case involving a body found lying beside
a remote train track in New Mexico. Their different paths merge in Washington DC,
leading to a shocking conclusion.

I didn't enjoy this book as much as others in the series, not for any flaws in the book, but
because I missed the New Mexico setting with its vast landscapes and brilliant light, and
also because one character is
Nov 29, 2016 Mary rated it it was amazing
Shelves: cozy-mystery
Highhawk is a young man who works for the Smithsonian, he claims to have a grandmother who is Navajo and he wants the bones of the Native Americans returned and reburied, but the museum's policy is that family can claim if they can prove it, so he digs up white ancestors of the museum hierarchy. They file charges and he runs to the Navajo reservation, now Chee becomes involved. Leaphorn becomes involved when a man is murdered and left on Navajo land. He follows all leads to Washington, DC, where ...more
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  • The Spirit Woman (Wind River Reservation, #6)
  • Death Walker (Ella Clah, #2)
  • Dance of the Thunder Dogs
  • Spider Woman's Daughter (Leaphorn  & Chee, #19)
  • The Shaman Sings (Charlie Moon, #1)
  • Reflex
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, ...more
More about Tony Hillerman...

Other Books in the Series

Leaphorn & Chee (1 - 10 of 21 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)
  • Coyote Waits (Leaphorn & Chee, #10)
  • Sacred Clowns (Leaphorn & Chee, #11)

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