Sunday, June 14, 2015

Review: Rock with Wings by Anne Hillerman

Rock With Wings (Navajo Mysteries, Book 20)
by Anne Hillerman
Release Date: May 1st, 2015
2015 Harper
Hardcopy Edition; 336 Pages
ISBN: 978-0062270511
Genre: Fiction / Mystery
Source: Review copy from publisher

3.5 / 5 Stars

Doing a good deed for a relative offers the perfect opportunity for Sergeant Jim Chee and his wife, Officer Bernie Manuelito, to get away from the daily grind of police work. But two cases will call them back from their short vacation and separate them—one near Shiprock, and the other at iconic Monument Valley.

Chee follows a series of seemingly random and cryptic clues that lead to a missing woman, a coldblooded thug, and a mysterious mound of dirt and rocks that could be a gravesite. Bernie has her hands full managing the fallout from a drug bust gone wrong, uncovering the origins of a fire in the middle of nowhere, and looking into an ambitious solar energy development with long-ranging consequences for Navajo land. 

My Thoughts 
Rock With Wings was an interesting book in a series that is being continued by Tony Hillerman's daughter, Anne. I have read all of them, and although these ones are slightly different due to different writing styles, I am quite happy to see Ms. Hillerman put her own touch on this series so it doesn't get old and dreary like some other ones out there.  

In this book, Jim Chee and his wife, Bernie, are taking several days off to get away from the stress of their police work and help a relative get a a new business off the ground. Chee has to report for an assignment in a few days, close to where he and his wife are relaxing, so naturally he has to report early due to mysterious circumstances, while Bernie has to go back to work to investigate an incident that occurred just before she went on holiday as well as deal with some family issues, and the holiday is cut short. To be honest, I was a bit disappointed by this as it would have been fun to have them together on this mystery in the Valley.

This book definitely takes a look at the Navajo traditions and the struggles the older Navajo people have trying to preserve their simpler life with the onslaught of new forms of technology to which they are being bombarded, in this case a solar energy development that could have an impact on everyone within the Navajo Reservation.  I really liked how the author shows the conflict that is being created by this and how the merging of the old and new impacts old traditions, both for the younger and older generations.  There were a lot of tales and traditions twisted into this story that I found interesting, and I really liked how the Navajo language was used as it gives the reader an insight into some Navajo thoughts and traditions.  Having been to New Mexico and having visited the area, I could picture it so clearly in my mind, but I really appreciated learning more about it too. Ms Hillerman definitely has captured the spirit of Monument Valley, right down to those potholes and the dust.

While I enjoyed the interactions amongst family members, especially those of Bernie and her mother and her sister, I was not that impressed with the mysteries which is why I gave it the rating that I did.  I feel the author got caught up in her descriptions of the areas, in the people, in the relationships, and especially with Leaphorn's recovery, all quite interesting in their own right, to the point where the mysteries kind of took a back seat to everything else so I felt rather let down and disappointed by them.  To be honest, they were kind of bland; the best things about this book was Bernie.

Rock with Wings was an interesting addition to the series if you look at it as a novel with some great character development (Bernie), some fascinating Navajo lore, and a great setting.  As far as the mystery goes however, it left a bit of something to be desired as I didn't find it suspenseful or intriguing.  It doesn't bother me that her style of writing is not the same as her dad's so I am hoping she can take this series in her own direction and put her own stamp on it as there is a lot of potential here to do so.