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Skeleton Man (Leaphorn & Chee #17)

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  5,380 Ratings  ·  272 Reviews
Joe Leaphorn, former Navajo tribal police lieutenant, is not a happy retiree. So when his successor asks him to look into how a young Hopi named Billy Tuve came by a valuable diamond the boy tried to pawn for a fraction of its worth, Joe finds himself involved in a five decade old mystery. It dates back to a plane crash in the Grand Canyon, one that took the life of a man ...more
241 pages
Published (first published 2004)
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Mar 29, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Mystery Fans
She peered at her desk calendar, looked up again at the once-legendary lieutenant, and said, "And you are...?"

A knife-to-the-heart question when delivered in a building where one has worked most of one's adult life, given orders, hired people, and become modestly famous for a mile or two in every direction.

You know one thing that I really enjoy about Hillerman's books? He is a fan of happy endings. The book usually works out pretty amazing, with the good guys being rewarded and the bad guys bein
Dec 03, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Dead men, diamond hunters, determined Hillerman fans
Tony Hillerman used to be one of my favorite authors, but he did that thing a lot of authors do with long-running series: said he was done writing Leaphorn/Chee mysteries, but then kept writing them. After the stinker that was The Sinister Pig, I was almost afraid to read Skeleton Man, since it's the next to last book Hillerman wrote before he died, and I'd rather remember Hillerman in his glory days, when Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee were still fresh and sharp and coming at their Navajo ways from ...more
Susan Johnson
I love Tony Hillerman and his books set in the 4 corners of America- New Mexico, Arizona etc. I had read them all about 25 years ago and so I thought enough time had elapsed to listen to the audio on the way to my grandkids.

As it was going along I realized the character, Bernie, was really irritating me. First of all, I dislike women who do stupid things to prove to a man that she is just as good as he is. Please. Then as I was gritting my teeth, I realized it was the voice the narrator gave
Jul 29, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Hillerman fans or fans of the series
Recommended to Susan by: castoff from spouse's "done reading" shelf
Shelves: tradeable
Interesting idea but honestly so short that with some editing it could almost have been a short story. Just winding down the series with the old retired Navajo police Lt Joe Leaphorn now marginally involved in the goings-on, and mostly by phone.

This could have been so much more but perhaps readers of this series of books aren't interested in having a fine portrait painted of character and locale nor details of landscape. Perhaps they've read it all before. Standing on its own without the backgr
Peter Derk
Aug 12, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
The following elements are involved in this book: a severed limb, a diamond heist, a mid-air collision between two airplanes, and a mummified corpse.

Wouldn’t you think at least ONE of those would be exciting on some level?

If you’re human, you would. And Mr. Hillerman would owe you an apology. Probably even an apology involving baked goods. An apolo-cake. An aPielogy. At least that way you would walk away with SOMETHING.

There were two female characters in this book that I didn’t even realize were
Aug 02, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a selection of the month from my local book group. While I enjoyed it, I have read many of Tony Hillerman's books and would consider this one very average. Joe Leaphorn, a primary character in earlier books is now retired, but makes a cameo/walk-on appearance in this book, playing no significant part in advancing the plot.

The plot revolves around a true-life plane crash over the Grand Canyon. The crash, which resulted in two planes and all passengers falling from the sky, happened in 19
May 24, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Whether you like a book or not depends on why you read it. I've always loved Tony Hillerman's descriptions of the Southwest, and accordingly I have an unfulfilled desire to go there someday. His descriptions of the people and the characters are intriguing and the steady evolution of Jim Chee's relationships and Joe Leaphorn's retirement are satisfying.

Having said all that I got really stuck on some elements of the plot. I loved his descriptions of the Grand Canyon, but I've been there. The Gra
Apr 18, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio-unabridged
CD/unabridged: Book 17 of the Joe Leaphorn & Jimmy Chee series. I've listened to two other books by Hillerman and he is a very good story teller. This one was written about four years before Hillerman's passing and is short. I was surprised to see that it was unabridged and only six discs.

In this one Leaphorn, retired, recounts the story of an airplane that crashed in to another and fell to the Grand Canyon while trying to prove the innocence of a simple man. I like it because I learned som
Nov 10, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love that this is told as a story from the past - Lt. Leaphorn tells the story of how a woman came from New York to try to find a bone from her father killed in a major airliner crash. This would give her sole inheritance to a large business empire but those that have control now try to stop her. Plus there are diamonds involved...lots of diamonds. Needless to say, Bernie and Jim Chee are almost peripheral to the story but they end up married and helping the woman claim her birthright. There's ...more
Nov 30, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The only thing going for this novel was that Chee and Bernie finally get together and plan to marry. Bernie loves Chee for who he is, and them planning for their married future on the reservation was enduring. There was a villain with a wealth fetish, and the descriptions of his elaborate meals made me want to slap him. The appealing Cowboy Dashee helped solve the crime along with the "legendary" Leaphorn. At this stage, this series is just limping to the finish line.
May 22, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
After I started listening to this, I discovered I've already listened to it - perhaps on one of my earlier trips cross country? Anyways, it's a good one, with the usual skipping between points-of-view. I've been watching the series (Netflix? Amazon Prime?) and Leaphorn is depicted a bit differently (now that my memory has been refreshed) with the book. It was fun to re-listen. Great reader, too...George Guidall.
Feb 07, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, male-lead
A little too modern for me. Involves a trip to Los Angeles and a shantytown development. Needless and uncharacteristic time is spent on antagonist development, including a horrific scene where he breaks into a mansion and leaves a macabre scene behind. I missed the Hillerman gentleness of earlier mysteries; the focus on our protagonists and the development of their lives, the sharing of different southwest Native American cultures, the drawing of the southwest landscape.
Toni Osborne
Feb 08, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This mystery is straightforward and pretty much predictable. I found the author kept repeating himself each time he introduced a new character and after hearing the story of the diamonds three or four times it takes a toll. This is the first novel I have read by this author and I was totally disappointed with it.
Mar 16, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mysteries, 2016
I found the set up for this mystery slow going. However, by the second half of the book the pace picked up. The final confrontation was really very good. So, for the most part, an enjoyable read. Not enough Leaphorn in the story, though.
Jul 19, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm rereading the Tony Hillerman series about the southwest and Navajo nation. His characters demonstrate a deep and clear understanding of the people and the land. I recommend them all.
Sep 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoy the adventures of Jim, Bernie, and the legendary lieutenant Leaphorn. This is another good one. Hillerman takes you there in his well-written stories.
Sep 01, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoy the humor, Navaho lore and mystery surrounding life on the Navaho Nation in Tony Hillerman's Leaphorn, Chee and Manuelito books. This was another entertaining and enjoyable read.
Kara Jorges
Dec 19, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There are a lot of things to like about this book, which is my first Hillerman experience, but I think my favorites were the characters. This is not the first book in the series, and I was a little confused for the first couple of pages, but it didn’t take long for me to warm to the very human characters and feel like I was right there with them.

In the ‘50s, two planes collided over the Grand Canyon, killing everyone on board and sending a rain of debris and body parts over the canyon. It was th
Jack Rochester
I recently returned from a week of hiking in Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon, in the Southeast corner of Utah. This area, which also encompasses the Grand Canyon of Arizona, has one of the most unique natural architectures you’ll encounter anywhere in the world, where wind and water have carved the mountains into deep, sensual caverns and odd desert statues called hoodoos.

I got stuck at the Zion Lodge for a few hours while waiting for my fellow hikers and ducked into the gift shop in search
Joe  Noir
May 13, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
About 30 years ago, I read my first Tony Hillerman novel, Skinwalkers, and I was underwhelmed. At that time, Hillerman was really getting hot, and his popularity was growing rapidly. Co-workers were discussing his books at work, and one prevailing opinion was that his books were excellent.

I found the book lacking suspense, drama, and violence. I thought the mystery was thin. The landscape was brought to vivid life by the author, especially in one late scene describing the view from a hospital ro
Clark Hallman
Sep 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime
In Skeleton Man, a Navajo man is accused of stealing and pawning a large diamond. Sargent Jim Chee, Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn (ret.) and Chee’s fiancé Bernie Manuelito work together on this case, and find that the diamond is connected to a plane crash that took place in the Grand Canyon area fifty years ago. A diamond dealer, who died in that plane crash, had a case of diamonds handcuffed to his wrist at the time. His body was never found but someone had seen a severed arm with the case attached t ...more
Aug 30, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Read this as I was driving around "the Big Rez" in Arizona. I had recently told a Navajo guide at Betatakin ruin in Navajo National Monument, "Everything I know about your people is from Hillerman." The guy just laughed.
Leaphorn's dilemma with maladjustment to retirement continues, and we get a new chapter on the Bernie/Chee relationship. But, as always, Hillerman puts a unique twist of complications on familiar things. The search for the missing arm attached to a briefcase full of diamonds from
May 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, fiction
Jim Chee is engaged, finally to someone sensible. Joe Leaphorn is thinking about getting engaged, if he can just talk Louisa into it. And in keeping with engagement, they are looking for diamonds. Except these diamonds are unset, missing for nearly 50 years, and attached to a dead man's wrist. Cowboy Dashee's somewhat slow nephew has been jailed for theft for trying to pawn one of these 50-year-old diamonds for $20. He further claims he traded a shovel for it several years ago with an old man in ...more
Gerald Kinro
Apr 17, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Story’s root is an actual In 1956, an airplane crash over the Grand Canyon that left the remains of 172 passengers scattered about the Grand Canyon. In this story, one of the remains is and arm cuffed to a briefcase holding a huge fortune in diamonds. Half a century later, one of the missing diamonds reappears. Then it gets interesting as those far away from the Southwest are after the prize and will stop at nothing to recover the rest of the gems and what is left of the severed arm. Former Nava ...more
Apr 27, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's getting harder and harder to find a Tony Hillerman novel I haven't read, so running across this one was a real treat.

The story begins with a plane crash over the Grand Canyon in 1956 ... and ties into a modern-day case in which Cowboy Dashee's mentally disabled cousin Billy tries to pawn an enormous diamond for $20. The diamond is one listed as missing from the plane crash, and so Billy is hauled in to jail for theft.

There are, of course, even more complications. Retired police lieutenant J
Gail Karwoski
Jan 02, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
Hillerman's series features a Navajo detective (Leaphorn) who is attuned to the traditional ways of Native American people. This knowledge helps him track down evidence and interview local residents with their idiosyncracies. There's not so much hardcore blood and gore here, so in spite of the New World setting, it's really a mystery series in the tradition of a British "cozy." The scenery of the Southwest, at Indian religious sites, etc., adds a distinctive flair to the whodunnit plot.

But talk
Todd Martin
Mar 09, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Ok – first of all I have to admit that pop mysteries are not my cup of tea. Someone left this book with me and I decided to pick it up on a whim. With that said, I’m afraid to say that Skeleton Man did nothing to dispel my distain for the genre.

The plot was ridiculous, the characters were wooden, the description of the Grand Canyon was inaccurate, yet these details were not the ones that chafed. The thing I found most annoying, oddly enough, was the absurdly redundant presentation of the plot.
Mar 06, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Classic Hillerman. Navajo, Hopi, and white culture collide in the search for diamonds and the remains of John Clark from a 1950s plane crash in the Grand Canyon. Sgt. Jim Chee teams up with his fiancée, Bernie Manuelito, and Deputy Cowboy Dashee to solve a murder case involving Cowboy's cousin, Billy Tuve. Finding the missing diamonds could prove Tuve's innocence.
John Clark's out-of-wedlock daughter, Joanna Craig joins the search hoping to find her father's remains to prove that she is the legit
Mark Robertson
Mar 26, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is one of my favorites in the series, of which I've read quite a few now. This tale takes Jim Chee, Cowboy Dashee and Bernie Manuelito into the Grand Canyon in search of a man who may or may not exist, who may or may not have given away a few diamonds that he found in the canyon after a plane crash in the 1950s. The daughter of the man who had been carrying the diamonds when the planes crashed is also in the canyon looking not so much for the diamonds as for a bone that will give he the DNA ...more
David Guy
I resolved some time ago to read all of the Tony Hillerman mysteries, and I've gotten to the next to last one; this one was a good one. It centers on an actual event (which I vaguely remember): two commercial airliners collided over the Grand Canyon, apparently dumping a bunch of stuff into the canyon. Hillerman created a fanciful plot out of that, about a man who was on one of the airplanes with a cache of valuable diamonds, a shaman in the canyon recovered the diamonds and began handing them o ...more
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  • The Ghost Walker (Wind River Reservation, #2)
  • Mourning Dove (Ella Clah, #11)
  • Spirit Sickness
  • The Widow's Revenge (Charlie Moon Mysteries)
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 22 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)
“really think I could learn anything about that diamond” 1 likes
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