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The Blessing Way

(Leaphorn & Chee #1)

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  18,133 ratings  ·  835 reviews
Alternate cover edition can be found here.

Homicide is always an abomination, but there is something exceptionally disturbing about the victim discovered in a high lonely place, a corpse with a mouth full of sand, abandoned at a crime scene seemingly devoid of tracks or useful clues. Though it goes against his better judgment, Navajo Tribal Police Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn ca
Paperback, 320 pages
Published March 7th 1990 by HarperTorch (first published 1970)
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Amy Denton The Four Corners is an area in the Southwest U.S. where four states meet. The four states are Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico and Utah meet. There is a…moreThe Four Corners is an area in the Southwest U.S. where four states meet. The four states are Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico and Utah meet. There is a monument there as that is the only place in the U.S. where four states meet. The Four Corners area is also the dividing line between the Navajo Nation and the Ute Tribe.(less)
Ms.pegasus The characters age as the series proceeds. However, I don't think there's any reason to adopt a strict chronological order for reading the books.
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Community Reviews

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4.06  · 
Rating details
 ·  18,133 ratings  ·  835 reviews

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Jun 17, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Navahos and paint ponies
Hillerman is chocolate. Read him at the beach, read him before bed, but read him. Then you too will belong to the high plains, the canyons and mesas of the desert Southwest. You will think and speak differently, quietly, thoughtfully. You will find the wound in the floor of the kiva, a melody which is a wound in silence, and you will follow, like Alice down the rabbit hole.
Bill  Kerwin
Jul 08, 2009 rated it liked it

This first book in the Joe Leaphorn series features an exciting conclusion, but it also features two heroes instead of one (Ethnologist Bergen McKee gets more pages than Leaphorn), and I don't think it is always clear where the focus of the novel is supposed to be.

The ethnic information about witchcraft beliefs among the Navaho is interesting, but not always properly integrated into the narrative. This is, however, his first detective novel. It is well-written, I hear he is one of the masters o
Aug 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
4 stars
This is the first book in the Joe Leaphorn/Jim Chee series by Tony Hillerman. Jim Chee does not appear in this book and Leaphorn plays an equal role as protagonist against murderers with ethnologist Bergen McKee. Leaphorn is looking for Luis Horseman, who cut a Mexican in Gallup, New Mexico. Horseman turns up dead with few clues as to how he got there. Leaphorn and McKee keep hearing rumors of a Wolf Witch roaming the reservation. They both try to track down the Wolf Witch, McKee because
Dirk Grobbelaar
It's been mentioned in other reviews, but this particular book does seem to suffer from a bit of an identity crisis: it doesn't quite seem sure of its main protagonist. You'd think it would be Joe Leaphorn, but it just may not be after all.

That said, it's certainly a rather interesting book. Navajo symbolism and mythology permeate the writing to such an extent that I initially found it somewhat difficult to follow the story, but once you get used to the writing style it actually reads quite fast
Feb 01, 2014 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: No One
Recommended to Carmen by: Library
I usually don't do this, but DNF on page 106. I can't make heads or tails out of what's going on, and I'm bored stiff.

UPDATE: 10/23/2015

Okay, I finished it. Still stand by my original opinion.
Apr 08, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I actually read this quite a long time ago and I don't remember the details, but I've never read a Tony Hillerman I didn't like.

This is the first of Hillerman's Joe Leaphorn/Jim Chee/Navajo Reservation mysteries, and I read in an interview that it has so many inaccuracies about Navajo culture that it now makes him cringe. Apparently, though, the Navajo people were quite pleased with his respectful interest in their culture, and they liked the book despite whatever weaknesses it may have. Of cour
Many years ago I read several of Tony Hillerman's Leaphorn & Chee books. Around eight books in the series I believe. When I saw the Kindle version on sale at Amazon a while back I decided to buy it and check it out again. Although the title indicates "Leaphorn & Chee" there is no Jim Chee and Joe Leaphorn often takes a backseat. In fact the main protagonist appears to be Bergen McKee, a college professor who returned to the Reservation in order to continue his research of Navajo witchcra ...more
Jul 28, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, poc-actor
Picked this up because I was looking for something different from the murder-in-a-small-English-town-thing. Though it took a while to really get going, I found the people and setting interesting, and liked Joe Leaphorn.
Dec 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery-series
Read this book when it first came out. (Yes I'm old!) Did a re-read, here's my review...

When it comes to writing descriptions of the southwest, none can compare to Mr. Hillerman. He can set a scene with a saw-whet owl, a fading sunset, and a distant outcropping of gray-streaked red sandstone. He's magnificent at this, does a better job than any painting or photograph.

Add to that the detailed descriptions of various native American rituals, along with insight into the cultures, the nuances, even
Jul 16, 2014 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Fans of mysteries
As a mystery fan, I had been meaning to check this series out for a while. But it wasn't until I spent a rainy weekend in Napa and took temporary shelter in a lovely used bookstore that I saw a paperback copy and finally picked it up. It may be my best used bookstore impulse buy ever, and I have made quite a few of those.

There is not much new I can add to the conversation about the mystery handled by Arizona Navajo Tribal Police Lt. Joe Leaphorn in this novel, being that was originally published
Feb 02, 2018 rated it liked it
This first book in the Leaphorn series, really isn't that great.

There's a corpse with sand in his mouth, and a hunt for a missile.

The story is pretty simple, really only enough here for a novella, and it drags along. Leaphorn really isn't in it very much, either. Sort of hard to believe it heralded a series that would last over 40 years.
Feb 11, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone interested in Native American cultures
THE BLESSING WAY was Tony Hillerman's first novel. Although Navajo police officer Joe Leaphorn appears in the book, he is a secondary character. The main character is Bergen McKee, a tenured professor with expertise in the social context of Navajo witchcraft. McKee is still recovering from his divorce five years ago and has returned to the Reservation to continue his research in hopes of revitalizing some of the ambition of his youth. He contacts Leaphorn, an old friend from college, to collect ...more
Book Concierge

From the dust jacket: When Lt. Joe Leaphorn of the Navajo Tribal Police discovers a corpse with a mouth full of sand at a crime scene seemingly without tracks or clues, he is ready to suspect a supernatural killer. Blood on the rocks … a body on the high mesa … Leaphorn must stalk the Wolf-Witch along a chilling trail between mysticism and murder.

This is the first in the series featuring Leaphorn. Hillerman weaves in considerable Navajo lore in this very real story of murder and mayhem. T
I love these murder mysteries set in the Navajo Nation and featuring Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee of the Navajo Tribal Police. Well, eventually they feature Leaphorn and Chee, but Chee was added a little way into the series and is not yet a player in this book.

In The Blessing Way, Joe Leaphorn tries to solve the mysterious death of a young man who appears to have been killed by a witch. We are taken deep into Navajo culture, their witchcraft lore and ceremonials of all kinds, as he assists profess
Monica **can't read fast enough**
I am glad that I went into this knowing that it wouldn't blow me away. It was pretty good, and I will continue with the series since it is supposed to get much better.
Fredrick Danysh
Jun 17, 2011 rated it it was amazing
A murder victim is found in a remote place with his mouth filled with sand. Lt. Leaphorn comes to suspect that supernatural forces may be involved.
Craig Monson
Jul 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Tony Hillerman’s first Leaphorn mystery (1970) strikes me as one of his best in its balance of mystery, crime solving, and rich cultural background—an authorial creation of hoozho, that guiding principle of Dinee life, which the Blessing Way ceremony (hoozhoji) restores and maintains. The book’s title may refer less to the ceremony itself (which, in fact, the book scarcely mentions) than to the principle that guides detective Joe Leaphorn’s pursuit of a solution to crime. He must recognize what ...more
Heath Lowrance
Nov 19, 2013 rated it it was ok
Many of the reviews here have already pointed out that this first book in the long-running series about Navajo Tribal Policeman Joe Leaphorn has its problems. As a mystery, it's a little weak, the narrative is clunky, the characters not exactly finely-drawn. All true. It's also been pointed out that the stuff relating to Navajo traditions and mythology is fascinating and nicely done. That, too, is true, and is THE BLESSING WAY's saving grace.

It should be noted that Leaphorn is not the main chara
Oct 16, 2009 rated it it was ok
High on the desolate mesa they found the body. The mouth was filled with sand. No tracks, no clues. Every Navajo knew that nothing human killed like that.
Rumors of witchcraft and the supernatural are nothing new to Lt. Joe Leaphorn of the Navajo Tribal Police. He and anthropologist Bergen McKee had stalked
the Wolf-Witch before. Always it had eluded them, vanishing like a ghost on the wind. But never had it left such a horrifying trail of murder. For Lt.
Leaphorn, the case was a baffling challenge
The first of a brilliant series of detective novels. The protagonist is a Navajo tribal police detective and the story is immersed in Navajo culture and the look and feel of the Four Corners region of the southwestern United States.

As a near-native New Mexican (lived here since I was four) I recognized my homeland and the personalities of a lot of people who live here more strongly here than in any other author's work. On top of that authenticity, the result of extensive research and a flawless
This, the first book in the long running Joe Leaphorn series, was an Edgar nominee for best first mystery back in 1971 and was a good listen on audio. I did think it started out a bit slow though but about half way through it picked up the pace. The narration was done by the always excellent George Guidall.
Marty Fried
Mar 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adventure
I almost quit reading this after the first bit, because it was a lot of Indian folklore and superstition, which isn't really something I enjoy much of. I just wasn't really following it. There was one Indian called Horseman, another was The Wolf, and then there were the Wind People, etc.

So, I went back and reread/skimmed over the part I'd read in a written version instead of audio, and figured out what was happening; it was more than just stories about strange beliefs, chants and ghosts, althou
Nannette Serra
Sep 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: westerns
I've read all of Tony Hillerman's books so this is the only review of them that I am going to write because once you read one, you will want to read them all. I like Western movies, both the cowboys and the Indians. One of the things I learned about the Navajo made me love their culture. Hillerman writes that, when they first meet, they don't really talk business until everyone has had a chance to repeat their genealogy. Apparently they keep going through the oral history of their people until t ...more
Jun 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
I really liked the style of writing and the setting in this book. I think I'll continue to dwell on this series for a while.
Bill Donhiser
Aug 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Once again I lament the fact that I started a series in the middle. I really enjoyed the first book of this series I just wish I had read it first. I will read #2 next it is on my to read shelf. Having lived in the four corners area I really enjoy Tony's descriptions of the land and the people. This is a well written detective mystery that sets the stage for a wonderful series
Narrated by George Guidall, I nearly gave this book back to Audible. He was a very boring narrator. But I got used to him and near the end, he started using some expression in his voice. I had the Kindle version but wanted to be busy with my hands while listening. I didn't want to follow the text. So I stuck with it.

Two things against this book before I even got started so take this with that grain of salt. First, it doesn't fit with my goal of reading women authors/women main characters. Second
The Book Shelf
May 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Loved this book and the whole Navajo Mysteries series. The description of the reservation and the development of the characters is wonderful. I have read all of the series written by Tony Hillerman and I have also enjoyed the two books that his daughter - Ann - has added to the series. I feel that the heritage and culture of the Navajo are well served by these stories.
Dec 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Somewhere between Michael Connelly and Craig Johnson. Love it. I'm going to enjoy Hillerman a great deal.
May 31, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: audio-books, mystery
This is the first book in Tony Hillerman’s Navaho mysteries, and the first of three with Joe Leaphorn. I’ve already reviewed Listening Woman and Dance Hall of the Dead. What I appreciated was I didn’t find that the books had to be read in order. And I’m almost glad I read them out of order since the first book featuring Lt. Joe Leaphorn was definitely not the strongest of the three. I also “read” this on audio book.

Premise of the book revolves around a body found out in the canyon country on the
Jan 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars
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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)
  • 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)
  • Sacred Clowns (Navajo Mysteries, #11)
“Beyond meeting simple immediate needs, the Navajo Way placed little worth on property. In fact, being richer than one’s clansmen carried with it a social stigma. It was unnatural, and therefore suspicious.” 3 likes
“witches in there to scrutinize, there’s plenty of ruins to keep” 1 likes
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