Anne Hillerman continues her series of Navajo Police novels with Song of the Lion.
After what I thought was a somewhat weak second effort, I had some concerns approaching Song of the Lion.
Overall, Song of the Lion benefits from better plotting, smoother story-telling, and improved pacing.
Most importantly, with Song of the Lion, Hillerman succeeds by evoking the sense of place that is so much a part of these novels: the wide open spaces, the mountains and rivers and plants and animals, the spirits and traditions, the tens of thousands of years that have made the Great South-West what it is.
The drive worked its magic. The morning sun brought the landscape to life -- iron reds, subtle grays, warm browns. She passed the country she'd seen with Palmer, the dinosaur walkway, and rolled across the bridge over the Little Colorado River, the place where, after miles of meandering, the river begins to make its rock-rimmed descent to the canyon's ancient floor.
It is wise of Hillerman to recognize from where the strength and beauty of these stories springs, and to return to it time and again.
However, I could wish that she was working harder to develop her technical writing skills. All too often, her dialogue and descriptions are a bit flat, a bit bland, a bit ordinary.
Lee put his hat back on, making it easier to talk with both hands. "He wants me to do some contracting work if the project is approved and told me about the big powwow here. I'd never met him in the flesh. So I figured I'd mosey on out here and say hello. I wanted to find out about the hubbub over the hotel, or resort, or whatever the heck the plan is before I sign on to work with him."
Possibly the problem is that her stories are a bit over-stuffed: she always has a broad cast of characters, with various sub-plots, incidental encounters, and unrelated episodes filling the novel. This was true of her father's novels too, with rather the same result: sometimes you feel like you are just driving through these novels at highway speed, enjoying the view, but not really stopping to savor the individual details.
Whatever, I really can't complain. Song of the Lion is a lovely novel, I enjoyed reading it, and I hope Hillerman writes many more.