by Anne Hillerman
Harper, April 2021, $27.99

In the sixth Leaphorn, Chee, and Manuelito novel by Anne Hillerman, Bernadette “Bernie” Manuelito is learning that taking orders from her husband, fellow Navajo Nation cop Jim Chee, comes with challenges. Those challenges take a back seat, however, when her college roommate, Maya Kelsey, confesses to killing her estranged astrophysicist husband.

Bernie sets off to the Alamo Navajo reservation in Socorro, New Mexico, to help investigate. But something about this case just doesn’t make sense. Feeling over her head, Bernie reaches out to her mentor, former Shiprock detective Joe Leaphorn for guidance.

Joe’s still in therapy and has just started working as a PI again after a near-fatal shooting, but even so, he’s always up for helping a friend and former colleague.

Hillerman’s atmospheric Stargazer, set in the beautiful and vast Southwest desert, is a well-plotted, character-driven crime drama steeped in Navajo Nation culture and traditions. Hillerman successfully continues her father Tony Hillerman’s long-running series focusing on the unique people, places, and issues of the Navajo Nation.

Longtime fans and newcomers alike will enjoy the extraordinary storytelling, the fluid narrative, and a puzzling mystery or two. There is also a Navajo glossary at the end, paramount to better understanding the context of the novel. Although the cases and plot can stand alone in this novel, readers who want a complete picture—or those who just wish to revisit old friends—will want to start at the beginning with Tony Hillerman’s first Leaphorn novel, 1970’s The Blessing Way.

Debbie Haupt
Teri Duerr
April 2021