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The Blessing Way is the first of the Navajo Tribal Police series of crime fiction novels by Tony Hillerman and introduces on-going series character Joe Leaphorn.

Plot summary

Anthropologist Bergen McKee has travelled to the Navajo Reservation to research tales of Navajo witches known as "skinwalkers". Meanwhile, McKee's friend, Tribal Police Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn, is called upon to investigate a corpse with a mouth full of sand. Soon, both McKee and Leaphorn find themselves in danger as they investigate a mystery involving a missing electronics expert and McKee has a more personal contact with a skinwalker than he bargained for.


On-going series characters introduced in this novel include:

  • Joe Leaphorn, NavajoTribal Police Lieutenant
  • Emma Leaphorn, wife of Joe Leaphorn and a Navajo traditionalist

Other characters introduced in this novel include:

  • Bergen McKee, Professor of Anthropology, friend of Leaphorn
  • Ellen Leon, girlfriend of Jim Hall
  • Jeremy Canfield, fellow professor and friend of McKee
  • Jim Hall, Ph.D., electronics expert
  • Luis Horseman, petty criminal

The creative process

In his autobiography, Hillerman explained that McKee was the main character, and initially Leaphorn had a minor role. However, at the advice of his editors, he expanded Leaphorn's role, and in later books Leaphorn would become a main character.

See also

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