Most helpful critical review
Maybe I just don't like mysteries, but...
on March 14, 2002
I can't see what everyone else loves so much about this book. I read it as a freshman in high school for English class, and most of my friends agree that it is bearable, but far from the best thing we've ever read. I mean, the story is so complicated that keeping track of all the information takes away from the fun of reading. It's also a dragged-out plot with characters who, though likable, are not as well-developed as I would have liked. It's hard to picture what Chee, Leaphorn, Eleanor Friedman-Bernal, and everyone else look like because they never really describe them. And despite how much Leaphorn misses his dead wife Emma, he and Chee are hard to describe. They don't have very individual personalities. They're just Navajo Tribal Police investigating the disappearance of Friedman-Bernal and a chain of homicides in and around New Mexico. The whole time, I was never really entertained or thrilled or scared by this book. It seemed like it was only a series of repetitions of Eleanor's disappearance, the Anasazi pots she was looking for, who she bought them from, etc., and was basically about trying to figure out who sold these dumb pots to whom. New people kept getting thrown in all the time, but it all always came back to repeating the first chapter. Even the ridiculously holy Christian traveling preacher, who is Ned Flanders-like, Slick Nakai, didn't add that much to the story. Perhaps I missed something everyone else caught, but I would just not recommend this book. Everything in it is confusing. Even the description of the land, which should be beautiful and fascinating, is hard to keep track of all the names and where everybody is. I didn't think "A Thief of Time" deserved all the rave reviews it got.