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Dance Hall of the Dead

(Leaphorn & Chee #2)

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  9,814 ratings  ·  476 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
ebook, 272 pages
Published October 13th 2009 by HarperCollins e-books (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)
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4.02  · 
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 ·  9,814 ratings  ·  476 reviews

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Jun 23, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4 stars
I have been reading Tony Hillerman books for almost 30 years. Now, with the help of Goodreads, I am going back and reading all the ones that I missed. I have enjoyed every single one, and strongly recommend this series, probably reading it in order, unlike me. Hillerman was so respected by his portrayal of the Navajo nation, that they adopted him into the tribe. In this book, Lt. Joe Leaphorn is assigned to look for a missing Navajo youth who may have been present at the murder of a Zuni
Mar 29, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
This is the second novel in the series featuring Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn of the Navajo Tribal Police. It was published in 1973 and won the Edgar Award for Best Novel. It is set in New Mexico, primarily in Ramah (part of the Navajo Reservation) and the Zuni village. The title comes from a Zuni concept, Kothluwalawa. The "Dance Hall of the Dead" is what the Zuni Indians call heaven.

In the opening Ernesto Cata is training to play his role as Shulawitsi the Fire God in an upcoming Zuni religious cer
Apr 08, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Craig Monson
Jul 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
December is a good time to re-read Dance Hall of the Dead, which centers around the Zuni Shalako ceremony, timed to the winter solstice. When Hillerman wrote this, his second Joe Leaphorn mystery (1973), the ceremony remained open to non-Natives, who flocked to witness it. The impressive rite was subsequently closed to outsiders, however. (From what I heard, it was because Anglo guests simply did not know how to behave.) Leaphorn, too, is something of an outsider here, negotiating the challenges ...more
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
Jan 19, 2019 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: edgar_winners
Mr. Hillerman's third novel, and second mystery featuring Navajo tribal detective Joe Leaphorn.

Winner of the Edgar Award for Best Mystery Novel of the Year.

Dance Hall of the Dead is what the Zuni Indians call heaven. This novel is set against a Ramah Navajo and Zuni reservation background. The Zunis, the smaller tribe, are surrounded by three Navajo reservations. There is no love lost between the Navajos and the Zunis, in fact they are very different culturally and, at times they hate each othe
Nov 03, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
Back in the mid-1950's, Horace Miner wrote an article called "Body Ritual among the Nacirem," which described what Americans did in the bathroom in social scientist language. Some people found this particularly clever, and it's become quite influential in the field.

One can clearly see the influence of this article in this early entry in the Leaphorn and Chee series, as Leaphorn is constantly saying he wants to understand White people.

The plot concerns the murders of young Indian boys. Many think
Feb 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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.
May 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone interested in a mystery set in the southwest
I read my first Tony Hillerman book back in far off Boston after a friend recommended it. His mysteries intertwine details about southwest Indian culture with the murder investigations of Navajo tribal police detective Joe Leaphorn. Now that I have moved to New Mexico, I have an even greater interest in these stories, which I am trying to read in order. This is the second book in the series.

The contrast between the Zuñi and Navajo cultures is a focal point of this book. The Zuñi believe in a sp
Jun 05, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
These Tony Hillerman Navajo Mysteries are a walk down memory lane for me! My Mom was born in New Mexico and the minute Hillerman started churning out these books, she read them as fast as they were published. I also read many of them, but have no memory of the specifics so it's fun to read them here in the 21st Century.

This book takes place at the intersection of Zuni and Navajo spiritual practices, which added greatly to the interest for me. A Zuni teenager is killed and his Navajo pal is on t
Mal Warwick
Apr 17, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In Dance Hall of the Dead, celebrated Southwestern author Tony Hillerman will introduce you to the people of the Four Corners. There, four Native American nations sprawl across the states of New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, and Colorado. The Navajo Nation is by far the largest, encompassing a population of 360,000 in some 27,000 square miles, a little larger than the state of West Virginia and more than twice the size of Maryland. The much less populous Hopi, Ute, and Zuñi Nations occupy much smaller ...more
Feb 12, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery-series
I love the Hillerman books...

Having said that, this book fell flat for me. I felt as though Leaphorn was tied up too much in regulations and tradition and when he should have a bit more forceful - and a little less patient - he might have saved himself some immense trouble and...

(view spoiler)

In this one our Navajo policeman,Joe Leaphorn, must solve the murder of a young boy in order to stop the possible
DeAnna Knippling
Tribal police officer Joe Leaphorn investigates the deaths of two boys, one Zuni, the other Navajo. Some say Zuni spirits are involved; others, drugs. Which is the truth?

This is more of a 3.5, but I'll round up because I've read a later book in the series that was smooth as silk. I had a hard time getting into this; there are issues with clarity and communication with the reader in the beginning of the book, and areas of disorientation later on in the book. Subtle stuff that made me go, "Or you
Morris Graham
Jan 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
I love these books about Leaphorn and Chee so much that we went through the area and drove past the towns while on vacation in 2017. It was great seeing what I have been reading about for so long.
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
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
Dec 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Aug 10, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 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.
Ralph McEwen
This is a good read and not very long. I like reading these Hillerman books because your not just reading a mystery, your are picking up some insights into other cultures.
I listened to this while driving from Central Oregon to Seattle, WA. The mystery was satisfying with enough twists to keep it interesting. What I enjoy more than anything in the Hillerman books is the look into Navajo culture. In this particular book, there was a look into the Navajo uneasy (and sometimes, downright hostile) relationship with the Zuni people. (4 Stars for the look into these cultures)
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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

Other books in the series

Leaphorn & Chee (1 - 10 of 23 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 (Navajo Mysteries, #11)
“But where was home for this boy who had hunted heaven?” 0 likes
“By whiteman’s standards, Leaphorn thought, Bowlegs had a net worth of maybe one hundred dollars. The white world’s measure of his life. And what would the Navajo measure be? The Dinee made a harder demand—that man find his place in the harmony of things.” 0 likes
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