Friday, December 20, 2019

The Tale Teller: a very short review

The Tale Teller is Anne Hillerman's fourth novel in the Leaphorn, Chee, and Manuelito series, continuing the stories of the characters from her father's series of Navajo Tribal Police novels.

As she has done in previous books, Hillerman again lets the place, and its history, carry the weight of the story telling. She doesn't favor convoluted plots, psychological dramas, plot twists, or the other various sleights of hand that are often present in mystery novels.

Rather, what we get are the hard-working and dedicated employees of the Navajo Police, just doing their jobs.

But, freed from having our attention distracted by complex details and intricate arrangements, we are able to relax and travel along with the investigators as they drive out to interview witnesses, sit for a cup of coffee in the local diner, meet with the town councilwoman to deliver status reports, answer queries from curious bystanders, and generally just go about keeping the peace and helping sustain and preserve their community.

The Tale Teller draws its narrative tension from an artifact dating back to The Long Walk, an epochal event in Western United States history, and something which is far too little known. Hillerman does a very nice job of quietly making the point that, as William Faulkner so perfectly put it, "The past is not dead. It's not even past."

I very much enjoyed The Tale Teller.

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