Jim Chee witnesses a mysterious plane crash on a makeshift desert runway on the lonely Navajo reservation in Arizona. A body shows up near a Hopi village with the hands and feet skinned. A windmill is vandalized by persons unknown. Storm clouds herald a violent end to a drought that parches the high desert country.
Thus, Hillerman sets the scene for his story, the fifth in the Navajo Detectives series and the second with Sergeant Jim Chee of the Navajo Tribal Police as the main character. "Dark Wind" weaves into the story the religious ceremonies of the gentle Hopi Indians and the antipathy between village Hopi and sheep-herding Navajo. The story is overlaid by the natural splendor of the country and Chee's knowledge of his people and land are crucial to resolving the mystery, while the Federals - the FBI and the DEA - thrash around ineffectively
Hillerman has professed to be a little uncomfortable with his creation, Jim Chee, a young man with a stubborn, rebellious streak, one foot in the Navajo world and the other in the White man's. Chee demonstrates those characteristics in "Dark Wind" and is less likeable as a character than in other books in the series.
"Dark Wind" is a good tale -- but not the best of the series -- with a lot of intriguing insights into Hopi and Navajo folkways and philosophy. If you like the wide-open spaces of the American west, you'll like Tony Hillerman's books.