Tony Hillerman, RIP
The Times reports:
Tony Hillerman, a former newspaperman whose evocative mystery novels set among the Navajos of the Southwest took the American detective story in new directions and made him a best-selling author, died Sunday in Albuquerque, where he lived. He was 83.Many years ago, on a family trip, around the Four Corners and Mesa Verde, one of my sons was reading Hillerman books. They seemed to fit perfectly in the hot, flat spaces punctuated by towers of rocks and the smell of sage. It was easy to see why writers and critics loved his work. It just fit perfectly in this wide space.
The cause was pulmonary failure, his family said. A daughter, Anne Hillerman, said her father had survived two heart attacks and operations for prostate and bladder cancer, The Associated Press reported.
In the world of mystery fiction, Mr. Hillerman was that rare figure: a best-selling author who was adored by fans, admired by fellow authors and respected by critics. Though the themes of his books were not overtly political, he wrote with an avowed purpose: to instill in his readers a respect for Native American culture.
His stories, while steeped in contemporary crime, often describe people struggling to maintain ancient traditions in the modern world. The books are instructive about ancient tribal beliefs and customs, from purification rituals to incest taboos.