Anne Hillerman's debut novel, Spider Woman's Daughter, revives her father Tony Hillerman's best-selling Navajo mystery series, featuring police inspector Joe Leaphorn and Sergeant Jim Chee. Except this time, the tough and whip-smart Officer Bernie Manuelito is on the case. With Spider Woman's Daughter, our Top Pick in Mystery for October 2013, Hillerman proves that she has a superb talent and voice all her own.
We chatted with Hillerman about her book, writing advice and the best food in New Mexico in a 7 questions interview.
Read an excerpt from the first chapter of this captivating novel below:
The town of Window Rock, the capital city of the Navajo Nation, gets its American name from the red sandstone arch, a low eye in the sky, a graceful portal from heaven to earth. Formed by wind and rain, it's known as Tségháhoodzání in Navajo. Beneath the arch, a natural spring bubbles up, a source of healing water and a tangible blessing in desert country. The spring gives the site its other Navajo name, Ni’ ‘Alníi’gi.
Bernie couldn’t see the arch from the parking lot of the Navajo Inn. Instead she looked at the white pickups and SUVs of the Navajo Police Department, more officers than she’d ever seen at a crime scene. But there had never been a shooting of one of the Navajo Nation’s best-known policemen in broad daylight outside a busy restaurant, with a table full of other cops just a heartbeat away.
The assemblage of officers and chorus of sirens alerted the peaceful people of this largely Navajo town of about 30,000 to the fact that something serious had happened. Restaurant patrons left bacon and eggs in the dining room to watch the commotion; travelers heading west from Gallup, New Mexico, or east from Ganado, Arizona, slowed down to gawk. No doubt they talked about it as they drove—probably good for at least ten miles’ worth of conversation.
What do you think? Plan to continue the Navajo mystery series with Anne Hillerman?