The Shape Shifter by Tony Hillerman

The Shape Shifter
(Leaphorn & Chee #18)
by Tony Hillerman

ShapeShifter

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Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn, retired, stopped his pickup about a hundred yards short of where he had intended to park, turned off the ignition, stared at Sergeant Jim Chee’s trailer home, and reconsidered his tactics. The problem was making sure he knew what he could tell them, and what he shouldn’t, and how to handle it without offending either Bernie or Jim. First he would hand to whomever opened the door the big woven basket of fruit, flowers, and candies that Professor Louisa Bourbonette had arranged as their wedding gift, and then keep the conversation focused on what they had thought of Hawaii on their honeymoon trip, and apologize for the duties that had forced both Louisa and him to miss the wedding itself. Then he would pound them with questions about their future plans, whether Bernie still intended to return to her job with the Navajo Tribal Police. She would know he already knew the answer to that one, but the longer he could keep them from pressing him with their own questions, the better. Maybe he could avoid that completely. It wasn’t likely. His answering machine had been full of calls from one or the other of them. Full of questions. Why hadn’t he called them back with the details of that Totter obituary he wanted them to look into? Why was he interested? Hadn’t he retired as he’d planned? Was this some old cold case he wanted to clear up as a going away present to the Navajo Tribal Police? And so forth?

*****

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Leaphorn wandered to the back door, noticing how lines of dust blown in through the vacant windows had formed across the floor, observing the piles of leaves in the corners, thinking how quickly nature moved to restore the damage done by man. He looked out at the burned remains of the gallery section, remembering how a typical torrential rain of the monsoon season had arrived in time to save this part of the Handy’s establishment.

*****

The Shape Shifter (2006) is the last Leaphorn & Chee book published before Tony Hillerman’s death in 2008. I was saving it and now am finally reading it. Thanks to Betty Louise, I know that his daughter, Anne Hillerman, is continuing the series.

Have you read any of Hillerman’s mysteries?