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

# Read Title Published Details
1 The Blessing Way (By: Tony Hillerman) 1970 Description / Buy
2 Dance Hall of the Dead (By: Tony Hillerman) 1973 Description / Buy
3 Listening Woman (By: Tony Hillerman) 1978 Description / Buy
4 People of Darkness (By: Tony Hillerman) 1980 Description / Buy
5 The Dark Wind (By: Tony Hillerman) 1982 Description / Buy
6 The Ghostway (By: Tony Hillerman) 1984 Description / Buy
7 Skinwalkers (By: Tony Hillerman) 1986 Description / Buy
8 A Thief of Time (By: Tony Hillerman) 1988 Description / Buy
9 Talking God (By: Tony Hillerman) 1989 Description / Buy
10 Coyote Waits (By: Tony Hillerman) 1990 Description / Buy
11 Sacred Clowns (By: Tony Hillerman) 1992 Description / Buy
12 The Fallen Man (By: Tony Hillerman) 1996 Description / Buy
13 The First Eagle (By: Tony Hillerman) 1998 Description / Buy
14 Hunting Badger (By: Tony Hillerman) 1999 Description / Buy
15 The Wailing Wind (By: Tony Hillerman) 2002 Description / Buy
16 The Sinister Pig (By: Tony Hillerman) 2003 Description / Buy
17 Skeleton Man ( By: Tony Hillerman) 2004 Description / Buy
18 The Shape Shifter (By: Tony Hillerman) 2006 Description / Buy
19 Spider Woman's Daughter ( By: Anne Hillerman) 2013 Description / Buy
20 Rock with Wings ( By: Anne Hillerman) 2015 Description / Buy
21 Song of the Lion ( By: Anne Hillerman) 2017 Description / Buy
22 Cave of Bones ( By: Anne Hillerman) 2018 Description / Buy
23 The Tale Teller ( By: Anne Hillerman) 2019 Description / Buy
24 Stargazer ( By: Anne Hillerman) 2021 Description / Buy
25 The Sacred Bridge ( By: Anne Hillerman) 2022 Description / Buy
26 The Way of the Bear ( By: Anne Hillerman) 2023 Description / Buy
27 Lost Birds ( By: Anne Hillerman) 2024 Description / 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 Lost Birds and was released on April, 23rd 2024.


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