Leaphorn & Chee Books

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Originally, the series was written by Tony Hillerman, but after he died in 2008, his daughter Anne took over the writing. The first book that she wrote came out in 2013, seven years after the last book her dad had written. She made Officer Bernadette Manuelito the main character. It also only starred the “Legendary Lieutenant”, Joe Leaphorn, for the first three novels. Jim Chee does not show up until the fourth book. Jim Chee was created to be a counter to Leaphorn, because for one of the novels, he needed someone more naive to fit the plot that he was writing. Chee fit the bill, Leaphorn did not. Hillerman began writing the series is the late seventies.

Order of Leaphorn & Chee Series By: Tony Hillerman, Anne Hillerman

1The Blessing Way1970Description / Buy
2Dance Hall of the Dead1973Description / Buy
3Listening Woman1978Description / Buy
4People of Darkness1980Description / Buy
5The Dark Wind1982Description / Buy
6The Ghostway1984Description / Buy
7Skinwalkers1986Description / Buy
8A Thief of Time1988Description / Buy
9Talking God1989Description / Buy
10Coyote Waits1990Description / Buy
11Sacred Clowns1992Description / Buy
12The Fallen Man1996Description / Buy
13The First Eagle1998Description / Buy
14Hunting Badger1999Description / Buy
15The Wailing Wind2002Description / Buy
16The Sinister Pig2003Description / Buy
17Skeleton Man2004Description / Buy
18The Shape Shifter2006Description / Buy
19Spider Woman's Daughter2013Description / Buy
20Rock with Wings2015Description / Buy
21Song of the Lion2017Description / Buy
22Cave of Bones2018Description / Buy
23The Tale Teller2019Description / Buy
24Stargazer2021Description / Buy
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At first, Bergen McKee was the star of the first novel, “The Blessing Way”, with Leaphorn taking a backseat. He was convinced, by his editors to expand Leaphorn’s role. Which he did. The novel took three years to write, and came from him practicing writing by remembering a Native American ceremony that he witnessed. Upon completion, he sent the manuscript to Joan Kahn, who edited at the time for Harper & Row (which is now HarperCollins).


“Dance Hall of the Dead”, book two in “Leaphorn and Chee” series won an Edgar for Best Mystery. “Skinwalkers” won the best novel award from Anthony Awards.


Some of this series has been adapted into movies, either for the big or small screen. These novels include “Coyote Waits”, “A Thief of Time”, “Skinwalkers”, “The Dark Wind”.


For those readers looking to get into the “Leaphorn and Chee” series by Anne Hillerman, this next section will help you out with that. It will go over the novels “The Blessing Way”, “Dance Hall of the Dead”, and “Listening Woman”.

The Blessing Way: An anthropologist who is named Bergen McKee comes to the Navajo Reservation so that he can do some research on stories about witches and see his old friend from college Joe Leaphorn. He is a lieutenant with the Navajo Tribal Police. Thinking that the man that he fought with was killed by his hands drops out of sight, his name is Luis Horseman. The victim lived, and Joe spreads the word around to get him to come in. Leaphorn drops a statement for someone else to hear, and feels, after another event happens, responsible for it.

Dance Hall of the Dead: Two boys go missing from the Zuni school. The Zuni look for one boy, but the other is looked for by Leaphorn as he is Navajo. The police find the Zuni boy and he was brutally killed. Tracks for the other boy are found there at the scene and the Navajo boy is quite a good hunter. He has even skipped school on certain days so that he can go hunting; this is so that he will not go hungry that night, nor will his father and brother. He wants guidance on a spiritual level, since he is the only Navajo boy at the school that he goes to.

Listening Woman: Leaphorn is nearly killed by a driver while taking a routine police call. He is trying to catch someone that was able to get away, rather than be arrested. Leaphorn gets out of his car and the guy tries to run him down. He gets a good look at the guy and is able to get a description out. He needs the help of a blind shaman woman called “Listening Woman” with the case he is working. She talks of spirits who are restless and witches and things of supernatural evil being released. Joe believes that the people who killed the old man and young girl was a human. That is all. The solution to the whole thing lives in the someone who died and some things that happened a century ago. It is wrong to go against the warnings of a seer, might even be reckless. His investigation leads him into something a lot more incomprehensible. Not to mention, into the most violent and brutal confrontation that he has ever encountered in his whole career.


Wind River Reservation Mysteries” series by Margaret Coel. This series is set on the reservation and shows the Arapahos tribe, and the cases are based on real crimes and nasty things. The author read about some of them in the newspaper and then put them in a book.

“Longmire” series by Craig Johnson. This bestselling and long running series is from the mystery genre that has been adapted into the television series of the same name.

What Is The Next Book in The Leaphorn & Chee Series?

There doesn't seem to be an upcoming book in The Leaphorn & Chee Series. The newest book is Stargazer and was released on April, 13th 2021.


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