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Dance Hall of the Dead [Hardcover]

4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)

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First Sentence
SHULAWITSI, the Little Fire God, member of the Council of the God's and Deputy to the Sun, had taped his track shoes to his feet. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

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5.0 out of 5 stars The Fire God is missing Oct. 12 2013
By bernie TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
Twelve-year-old Ernesto Cata (Zuñi) is practicing to be the Fire God in a local ceremony. His best buddy George Bowlegs (Navaho) is a Zuñi wana-be.

Ernesto is missing and there is a pool of blood by his bike. The next day his buddy George runs off. It is up to Sgt. Joe Leaphorn to find the boys before anything happens to them (if it has not already.)

As with most of Hillerman's novels everyone has different agendas and stories that overlap. There are alleged stolen artifacts form and archeological dig, and possibly a drug interest. They may or may not interact. We also get a good dose of Zuñi culture, and a feel that we are in the area.

Hillerman is nice enough to leave sufficient clues to let you figure out the mystery before Leaphorn and you then get to watch as he finally comes around to your way of thinking.

Another book by Hillerman "The Boy who Made Dragonfly" further describes the dance hall of the dead (Kothluwalawa.)

Author's Note:
"In this book, the setting is genuine. The village of Zuñi and the landscape of the Zuñi reservation are depicted to the best of my ability. The characters are purely fictional. The view the reader receives of the Sha'lak'o religion is as it might be seen by a Navajo with an interest in ethnology. It does not pretend to be more than that."

The Dark Wind (Jim Chee Novels)
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4.0 out of 5 stars Dance Hall of the Dead March 20 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
The Dance Hall of the Dead is a well written novel that blends fiction with nonfiction. The story mainly takes place in and around the Zuni reservation in New Mexico. The story is intertwined with Zuni culture and presents references to Navajo and Archaic culture. I am not very familiar with the Zuni culture, so i do not know how accurate his cultural references are. I found this book to be an easy and fun read. Although a little slow at first, the story builds on unanswered questions that will have you second guessing until the very end. Anyone interested in the Zuni, archaeology, or that enjoys a mystery/thriller should give this book a try.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Hillerman at his best Oct. 7 2002
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This is the second book in the "Navajo Detective" series by Tony Hillerman and the first in which detective Joe Leaphorn is the principal charactor.
Dance Hall of the Dead is a sad story. It concerns the murder or disppearance of two boys, a Navajo and a Zuni, and Joe Leaphorn's efforts to find the missing boys. The riddle is entwined with Zuni religious ceremonies which Leaphorn, a Navajo, tries to understand.
Hillerman gives a virtual travelogue of the Zuni and Navajo country of New Mexico and Arizona in the early 1970s when the book was written. Leaphorn is a thoroughly likeable hero, rational, even-tempered, and ethical with a compulsion to get to the bottom of things. Hillerman is a master of creating an exotic atmosphere of Zuni and Navajo culture and ceremonies overlaid by the splendor of the natural setting. With such ornament, it hardly matters that the solution to the mystery itself is not very convincing.
What a great title! If you're a wide-open-spaces-kind-of-a-person Hillerman is unbeatable as a mystery writer with a western twist. In Joe Leaphorn he has created a fictional detective who can take his place among the all-time best.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Very innacurate, sacrilegious and disrespectful March 5 2001
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I first read the Dance Hall of the Dead in high school. Being a member of the Zuni Tribe, and a resident of the town of Zuni, it was quite interesting to see how much of the information concerning Zuni could be changed to fit the "theme" and plot of the book. While these may seem like little details to most people, it is quite disturbing to see how often Hillermans work is seen as accurate, because of a reputation he has somehow gained as an "expert" on Native Cultures of the American Southwest. Apparently, he thought that all pueblo people are the same. This is evident in the use of the last name of Cata, which is not even seen in Zuni, and is actually a last name seen only in the Rio Grande Pueblos. In addition, his interpretation or portrayal of the Sha'la'k'o ceremony as a "Dance Hall of the Dead" is simplistic at best. While he may be an "expert" in Navajo culture, it does not qualify him to comment on a COMPLETELY different society, much less its sacred and complex kachina ceremonies. Finally, many native people, such as the Navajo, the Zuni and the Hopi (who have all been "featured" in Hillerman's books) feel that Hillerman's descriptions of ceremonies and rituals is just plain wrong. As an outsider, he has no business delving into or exposing the nature of such things as kachinas, which we consider sacred yet dangerous. Furthermore, by exploiting our cultures for the sake of adding interest to a plot, he seems to show a lack of respect for our cultures, our religions, and our tribes in general. This in itself is bad enough, but the worst thing is that people actually consider his novels definitive descriptions of Native culture. There are many ethnological works out there that are available, and they are NOT hard to find. Read more ›
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Masterpiece of Mystery! Feb. 20 2001
Format:Mass Market Paperback
The Dance Hall of the Dead will cause you to lose sleep! Not only is it one of the most suspenseful books around, the reader simply will not be able to put it down.
Hillerman writes in such vivid terms the reader will feel the chill of the wind and snow as well as see the vistas that have enchanted so many who have been on the Navajo and Zuni reservations. The characters come to life, and you will find yourself right next to Joe Leaphorn as he searches for clues to solve this mystery of murder and intrigue.
All of Hillerman's books are more than just mysterys, and this one is no different. Zuni culture explored at the finest level enriches this story tenfold. If you are interested in knowing about a small Native American culture that is difficult to find information about, this book is for you.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars The Fire God is missing
Twelve-year-old Ernesto Cata (Zu'i) is practicing to be the Fire God in a local ceremony. His best buddy George Bowlegs (Navaho) is a Zu'i wana-be. Read more
Published on Nov. 11 2006 by bernie
5.0 out of 5 stars The Fire God is missing
Twelve-year-old Ernesto Cata (Zu'i) is practicing to be the Fire God in a local ceremony. His best buddy George Bowlegs (Navaho) is a Zu'i wana-be. Read more
Published on July 23 2006 by bernie
5.0 out of 5 stars The Fire God is missing
Twelve-year-old Ernesto Cata (Zu'i) is practicing to be the Fire God in a local ceremony. His best buddy George Bowlegs (Navaho) is a Zu'i wana-be. Read more
Published on July 9 2006 by bernie
5.0 out of 5 stars If there's a 'best' Hillerman, this may be it.
When every book in a series rates five stars, how do you choose a favorite? It's hard, especially with Hillerman's Leaphorn-Chee series. Read more
Published on Jan. 26 2001 by Warlen Bassham
4.0 out of 5 stars Edgar winner in 1974 still a good read in 2001
Many books from the early seventies seem sort of comical almost 30 years later. The hippies, Watergate, Vietnam were very real but the writing of the times often doesn't hold up... Read more
Published on Jan. 12 2001 by Carol Peterson Hennekens
4.0 out of 5 stars A Thrilling Mystery
This book was really exiting it had me sitting on the edge of my seat the entire time reading it. The Dance Hall of the Dead by Tony Hillerman is the perfect book for the murder... Read more
Published on Jan. 8 2001
2.0 out of 5 stars It was so hard to follow!
I dunt think dis waz such an exciting book as reviewed by critics. The text waz hard to follow, and there were to many details, especially when dey have parts of da book narrated... Read more
Published on Oct. 28 2000
3.0 out of 5 stars DANCE HALL
I really enjoyed the character of Joe Leaphorn. He seemed very capable of carrying out his job, and you really felt the inner struggles he went through. Read more
Published on July 20 2000 by Amanda Houston
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