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Creator / Tony Hillerman

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Anthony Grove Hillerman (May 27, 1925 – October 26, 2008) was an award-winning bestselling author of detective novels and non-fiction. He is best known for Leaphorn & Chee, his much-loved Police Procedural series about Navajo Tribal Policemen Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee, set primarily on the Navajo Reservation in the Four Corners area of the Southwest.

Hillerman was a decorated World War II veteran who also worked as a crime reporter. He had grown up among Native Americans in Oklahoma and identified with them as fellow country folk. He has also acknowledged creative debt to the mystery novels of British-born Australian author Arthur W. Upfield, who wrote about a half-white, half-Aborigine detective named Bony, who worked with a deep understanding of tribal traditions.

Today Tony Hillerman is widely credited as the Trope Codifier of the Native American detective novel. Authors following his footsteps include Thomas Perry, Kirk Mitchell, Margaret Coel, James Doss, Sandra Prowell, Dana Stabenow, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, Louis Owens, and Linda Hogan.[1].

Following his death, Hillerman's daughter Anne Hillerman announced plans to continue the Leaphorn/Chee series. Spider Woman's Daughter was published in Fall 2013.

Other novels:

  • The Fly on the Wall (1971)
  • Finding Moon (1995)
  • The Boy Who Made Dragonfly (1972)
  • Buster Mesquite's Cowboy Band

The novels of Tony Hillerman provide examples of:

  • Early-Installment Weirdness: The Blessing Way, Hillerman's first novel, does feature Joe Leaphorn in a major role, but the POV character is a white anthropologist who appears in exactly zero later books. The Fly on the Wall, his second novel, involves political corruption and investigative journalism in an unnamed state capital—potentially based on Oklahoma City, near Hillerman's hometown—and has even less connection to any of his later books.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Almost all of Hillerman's novels have either a two-word title or a three-word title starting with "The." (The Fly on the Wall, Dance Hall of the Dead, and People of Darkness are the only exceptions.) Usually, they will be of the format "[Verb]ing Noun," "The [Noun] Way," or "The [Adjective] [Noun]."
  • Noble Savage: Generally averted. Hillerman's Native Americans are portrayed as regular people who deal with stuff like politics and bureaucracy.
  • Scenery Porn: Hillerman is famous for his descriptions of the Southwestern desert.
  • Simple, yet Awesome: Often seen in Hillerman's portrayal of hitmen. They accomplish cool things by meticulous planning and step-by-step execution (no pun intended).