This novel demonstrates the spare, elegant prose and tight plot that characterizes Hillerman at his best - as in Blessing Way or Dark Wind. Then too, the characters we have come to love, Jim Chee, Joe Leaphorn and even the interloping Cowboy Dashee as well as Jim Chee's latest heartbreaker, Bernie Manuelito, are center stage. So why the grousing. Perhaps Hillerman fans expected more fireworks after the two most recent clunkers. Or maybe, with the same cast in place, readers expected Hillerman to continue his exploration and exposition of the cultures of the native peoples of the southwest. But as Hillerman moves his action further south, he leaves much of the Navaho ethos behind, and the distinct customs of a people fade as the writer brings the Sonoran landscape to the foreground. Tellingly it is described as even more vacant, more of a vacuum of living things than the "Four Corners" setting of earlier novels. Bernie, now with the Customs Patrol carries extra plastic jugs of water in her vehicle, and she will need them as she discovers thirsty illegals stranded in the desert. Principal characters getting lost because of undistinguishable landmarks ( unthinkable on Navaho land ) leads more than once to important plot turns. Readers similarly may be exploring new and unfamiliar territory which is a bit more uncomfortable because of the presence of the familiar in different roles. If this is not classic Hillerman, it is still very good Hillerman, a differently focused Hillerman, and an entertaining read.