What all three authors have in common is a love of the area they write about, well-developed characters, and intriguing plots. Johnson's Longmire books are set in Wyoming, Hillerman's Chee & Leaphorn books are set in New Mexico, and Chappell's books are set in the Four Corners reservations of Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico.
Chappell's main characters Charlie Yazzie and Thomas Begay are Navajo, and while both have been to boarding school, Charlie Yazzie went on to earn a law degree, while Thomas Begay stayed on the reservation. The two were friends in high school, but have gone different ways since.
When Thomas is discovered drunk next to the dead body of BIA agent Patsy Greyhorse, he is arrested, but escapes. Charlie needs to find out who is responsible for the murder of Patsy Greyhorse and for setting Thomas up.
This first in the series does a cracking job of introducing the characters and providing a look at Navaho culture. The book is relatively short, but doesn't feel that way because the story has a sense of depth and dimension.
Points for: good characterization, interesting secondary characters, a visual setting, respectful treatment of Navaho culture and tradition, and an absorbing plot.
I liked it so much, I immediately moved on to the second book!
About the author:
R. Allen Chappell, the author of nine novels and a collection of short stories, grew up with the Navajo, went to school with them and later worked alongside--forging enduring friendships along the way. "Those friendships," the author recalls, "became the inspiration for this series."
Chappell notes, "My writing focuses on the people of the Four Corners region past and present. I tend not to romanticize my characters, preferring instead to paint them as I find them. They have much the same qualities, good and bad, as the rest of us."
It is always a pleasure to find the second book in a series as good as the first, and in this case, even better. Characters from the first book continue to gain substance, and new and engaging characters are added.
In Boy Made of Dawn, Thomas Begay's children have been taken from their mother to assure that she doesn't testify in the trial of corrupt tribal councilmen.
Thomas Begay and Charlie Yazzie are also on the list, but the solutions to keeping them from testifying are likely to be fatal.
New characters to love--Aida, the widow Sally Clee takes shelter with, and Caleb, Thomas' son.
Another appealing thing about this series is that they are not imitations of Craig Johnson or Tony Hillerman. The style is different and the characters and plots are distinctive. The similarities lie in each author's love of the areas he writes about.
I can't wait to read this entire series!