Thursday, January 06, 2005

The Sinister Pig, by Tony Hillerman

The Sinister Pig, by Tony Hillerman

Hillerman is back with his Southwest Scooby gang: Manuelito, Leaphorn, and Chee. The characters are as entertaining as always, but the plot is pretty convoluted. It starts out looking as if we are going to get some insight into the story of the missing royalties owed Native Americans but then veers into a tale of simple drug smuggling with the more interesting storyline dropped. I know Hillerman tries to keep his stories grounded in our universe and so couldn’t realistically solve this mystery, but it made for a more interesting motive than narcotic trafficking. The villain would need depth to be considered one-demandingly—Snidely Whiplash is more believable as a bad guy - but the rest of the cast is fleshed out a bit more. The lovelorn moaning of Manuelito and Chee wears pretty thin, too; while this gets resolved by the close of this book I was surprised to see these two strong characters revert to the classic he-strong-she-weak personas. The backdrop of the adventure was my favorite character; Hillerman does a fantastic job describing the beauty of the American Southwest. If you already like this author you will probably enjoy this novel as well, but if you aren’t familiar with Hillerman’s gang then I’d recommend starting with an earlier book in the series.

First Sentence:
David Slate reached across the tiny table in Bistro Bis and handed an envelope to the graying man with the stiff burr haircut.

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