Monday, May 07, 2007

Hunting Badger by Tony Hillerman

Nothing is better than listening to a Tony Hillerman book read aloud by George Guidall. His voice is perfect, and he sounds exactly as I imagine Jim Chee and Joe Leaphorn really sound, because of course they must be real people, because I know them so well! I can hardly name any other two literary characters to whom I am more attached. I am absurdly delighted that Joe Leaphorn is finding happiness with Dr. Louisa Bourebonette, after the death of his beloved wife Emma. I get a huge kick out of Jim Chee's continuing challenges to authority, in this case the FBI. Even the minor characters such as Chee's uncle Frank Sam Nakai are dear friends.

This story is well plotted and engrossing. Don’t think, because I am dwelling on the characters, that there's no action, because there's lots. An Indian casino gets robbed. The FBI runs the investigation ham-handedly, only to be out-thought by Chee and Leaphorn who use their knowledge of family relationships and old Navajo and Ute legends to find the perps.

But I am less interested in all that right now, as you can see. What I really want to talk about is which other literary characters I love, the way I love Leaphorn and Chee. I can say Harry Potter and Albus Dumbledore. Aragorn. Adam Dalgliesh. Reg Wexford, from Ruth Rendell's Wexford series. Jon Snow and Arya Stark, from George R.R. Martin's Song of Ice and Fire. Louise and Clary Cazalet from Elizabeth Jane Howard's The Cazalets. These are all characters from series books. Is it possible to get as attached to a character from a single novel? Probably, but in order to go back and visit that character, you have to read the book again. Series books afford you the opportunity to have an ongoing relationship with a character, and hear from them periodically, catching up on what's happening in their lives while you were apart. It's nice to know that Leaphorn and Chee are doing so well these days.

(Book 18, 2007)


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