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Sacred Clowns [Abridged, Audiobook] [Audio Cassette]

Tony Hillerman
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Aug. 26 1993

First there was the trouble at Saint Boneventure boarding school. A teacher is dead, a boy is missing, and a council woman has put a lot of pressure on Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn and Officer Jim Chee to find her grandson. Sitting on a rooftop watching sacred clowns perform their antics in a Pueblo ceremony, Chee spots the boy. Then, suddenly, the crowd is in commotion. One of the clowns has been savagely murdered. Without a single clue, Chee and Leaphorn must follow a serpentine trail through the Indian clans and nations, seeking the thread that links two brutal murders, a missing teenager, a band of lobbyists trying to put a toxic dump site on Pueblo land, and an invaluable memento given to the tribes by Abraham Lincoln in a fast-paced, flawless mystery that is Hillerman at his lyrical, evocative, spellbinding best.

Performed by Gil Silverbird


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From Publishers Weekly

Telling his story the Navajo way, Hillerman ( Coyote Waits ) fully develops the background of the cases pursued by Navajo Tribal Policemen, Lt. Joe Leaphorn and Officer Jim Chee, so that the resolutions--personal and professional--ring true with gratifying inevitability. A white woodshop teacher at St. Bonaventure's mission school is bludgeoned to death in his schoolroom; a student, a young boy from Tano Pueblo, is missing. The boy's uncle, a koshare, or sacred clown, in a kachina dance, is stabbed to death right after the ceremony in which he has symbolically warned of the dangers of selling sacred objects; an old man is killed on the highway in a hit and run. Chee, who is apprehensive about working for Leaphorn, tries to locate the missing boy, whose grandmother is on the Navajo Tribal Council, and to learn who ran down the old man, but he is distracted by his growing attachment to lawyer Janet Pete and by his desire to be a hataalii , or shaman, as well as a cop. Leaphorn searches for clues while simultaneously grieving for his wife who died 18 months earlier and considering his relationship with linguistics professor Louisa Bourebonette. Jurisdictional conflicts with the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Apache County Sheriff's Office reflect the cultural differences that obtain among tribes and clans as this first Leaphorn story in three years, steeped in Navajo lore and traditions, draws to its convincing conclusions. 350,000 first printing; major ad/promo; Mystery Guild selection; Literary Guild and Doubleday Book Club alternates .
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From School Library Journal

YA-In Hillerman's latest mystery set in the Southwest, Navajo tribal policemen Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee work together with a runaway student as the only link between two seemingly unrelated murders-one of a well-liked art teacher in his classroom on the reservation and the other the uncle of the runaway boy. The author skillfully employs the elements of detection and routine police work while providing readers with an intriguing glimpse of Navajo culture. The relationships between the officers and between the other well-defined characters give depth to the story, which is spiced with both men's romantic interests. The thought processes of the characters are accessible; the narrative holds interest and moves smoothly; and the themes of good and evil, greed and generosity, ethical considerations and environmental issues provide conflict. Unique and masterful.
Linda Sudduth, W.T. Woodson High School, Fairfax, VA
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Customer Reviews

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Navahos and more Sept. 9 2006
By bernie TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
This time we confront a different Pueblo People the Hopi. In the Hopi there are sect or Koshari societies; they do not practice curing; they are concerned with fertility and growth. Their religion is more personal than public and clans are most important.

Along With a new people we are treated to a piece of history; The Spanish had a tradition of The Canes of Office here. Governors and lieutenant governors and the like were issued a cane as a symbol of office. Ten years after the Gadsden purchase. The Indians stayed neutral curing the Civil War. So President Abraham Lincoln has some canes made of black ebony and crowned with silver inscribed with his signature, "A. Lincoln." These where given the nineteen different pueblos, each cane had the pueblo name on it.

Tony Hillerman spins his magic once more in this story of missing people and a death that may be related or religion and again maybe just down right greed. Chee and Leaphorn bust work together to find meaning and reason. In the Hillerman tradition all the clues are laid out in the open allowing you to bet them to the conclusion if you can.

Good companion book for this story is "American Indians of the Southwest" by Berth P. Dutton
Was this review helpful to you?
5.0 out of 5 stars Navahos and more Nov. 30 2006
By bernie TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
This time we confront a different Pueblo People the Hopi. In the Hopi there are sect or Koshari societies; they do not practice curing; they are concerned with fertility and growth. Their religion is more personal than public and clans are most important.

Along With a new people we are treated to a piece of history; The Spanish had a tradition of The Canes of Office here. Governors and lieutenant governors and the like were issued a cane as a symbol of office. Ten years after the Gadsden purchase. The Indians stayed neutral curing the Civil War. So President Abraham Lincoln has some canes made of black ebony and crowned with silver inscribed with his signature, "A. Lincoln." These where given the nineteen different pueblos, each cane had the pueblo name on it.

Tony Hillerman spins his magic once more in this story of missing people and a death that may be related or religion and again maybe just down right greed. Chee and Leaphorn bust work together to find meaning and reason. In the Hillerman tradition all the clues are laid out in the open allowing you to bet them to the conclusion if you can.

Good companion book for this story is "American Indians of the Southwest" by Berth P. Dutton
Was this review helpful to you?
3.0 out of 5 stars Abridge and miss the ambience Oct. 8 2006
By bernie TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Audio CD
Great novel however I would not waste time with an abridgment unless you are strapped for time as you miss the ambience.

This time we confront a different Pueblo People the Hopi. In the Hopi there are sect or Koshari societies; they do not practice curing; they are concerned with fertility and growth. Their religion is more personal than public and clans are most important.

Along With a new people we are treated to a piece of history; The Spanish had a tradition of The Canes of Office here. Governors and lieutenant governors and the like were issued a cane as a symbol of office. Ten years after the Gadsden purchase. The Indians stayed neutral curing the Civil War. So President Abraham Lincoln has some canes made of black ebony and crowned with silver inscribed with his signature, "A. Lincoln." These where given the nineteen different pueblos, each cane had the pueblo name on it.

Tony Hillerman spins his magic once more in this story of missing people and a death that may be related or religion and again maybe just down right greed. Chee and Leaphorn bust work together to find meaning and reason. In the Hillerman tradition all the clues are laid out in the open allowing you to bet them to the conclusion if you can.

Good companion book for this story is "American Indians of the Southwest" by Berth P. Dutton
Was this review helpful to you?
5.0 out of 5 stars Navahos and more July 23 2006
By bernie TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Audio Cassette
This time we confront a different Pueblo People the Hopi. In the Hopi there are sect or Koshari societies; they do not practice curing; they are concerned with fertility and growth. Their religion is more personal than public and clans are most important.

Along With a new people we are treated to a piece of history; The Spanish had a tradition of The Canes of Office here. Governors and lieutenant governors and the like were issued a cane as a symbol of office. Ten years after the Gadsden purchase. The Indians stayed neutral curing the Civil War. So President Abraham Lincoln has some canes made of black ebony and crowned with silver inscribed with his signature, "A. Lincoln." These where given the nineteen different pueblos, each cane had the pueblo name on it.

Tony Hillerman spins his magic once more in this story of missing people and a death that may be related or religion and again maybe just down right greed. Chee and Leaphorn bust work together to find meaning and reason. In the Hillerman tradition all the clues are laid out in the open allowing you to bet them to the conclusion if you can.

Good companion book for this story is "American Indians of the Southwest" by Berth P. Dutton
Was this review helpful to you?
5.0 out of 5 stars Last of the best May 21 2002
Format:Mass Market Paperback
After adding *Sacred Clowns* to his "Navajo mysteries" series, Hillerman stepped out of the milieu to write a novel best forgotten, *Finding Moon*, about the fall of Saigon. Sadly, when he returned to the series, something was lost, and the books since have felt almost as if they were being ghost-written for him.
*Sacred Clowns* is the last of the best of these books. Set at the fictional "Hano" Pueblo, it explores history, religion, and antiquities, weaving together environmental issues, intertribal rivalries, and a good, solid story with interesting characters. Chee and Leaphorn are dealing with their respective personal problems, and both stories move forward in promising ways.
This is not the best of the series. That honor goes to *A Thief of Time*, because Hillerman got it all right and it dazzles. It's not the most representative. That would be *Skinwalkers*, I think, and hence its selection for the first Hillerman Mystery Theatre production this fall. And it's not my favorite; that would be *Coyote Waits*, with its surprise ending that brings home the potential for tragedy on the reservation better than any mainstream novel I've read.
But it is a good, solid book, entertaining, educational, densely plotted and well written. Of the books added to the series since, the lastest, *The Wailing Wind*, finally suggests that Hillerman is getting back on track, but if you are new to this remarkable and exciting set of novels, begin with one of the three I've recommended above, then, if you like that, go back to the first or second novel and read your way forward. By the time you jump the gully of *Finding Moon*, you will be prepared to forgive some tiredness in the stories that come after.
Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee will be gone eventually, like Thomas Perry's wonderful Jane Whitefield. I will miss them.
For a complete discussion of the "Indian mystery" genre, check my web site.
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