A Thief of Time (Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee Series #8)

A Thief of Time (Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee Series #8)

by Tony Hillerman

Other Format

$15.30 View All Available Formats & Editions


Do the mysteries of an ancient Indian civilization hold the key to solving the baffling disappearance of a noted anthropologist?

Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn teams with Officer Jim Chee of the Navajo Tribal Police to try to find out. But the case turns more and more sinister. And a series of mystifying murders... each more bizarre than the one before it... makes finding the missing Dr. Eleanor Friedman-Bernal... if she is still alive... an urgent race against time.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780833541840
Publisher: Turtleback Books: A Division of Sanval
Publication date: 07/13/2002
Series: Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee Series , #8
Pages: 352
Product dimensions: 4.26(w) x 6.90(h) x 1.17(d)
Age Range: 12 - 17 Years

About the Author

Tony Hillerman (1925–2008), an Albuquerque, New Mexico, resident since 1963, was the author of 29 books, including the popular 18-book mystery series featuring Navajo police officers Jim Chee and Joe Leaphorn, two non-series novels, two children’s books, and nonfiction works. He had received every major honor for mystery fiction; awards ranging from the Navajo Tribal Council's commendation to France 's esteemed Grand prix de litterature policiere. Western Writers of America honored him with the Wister Award for Lifetime achievement in 2008. He served as president of the prestigious Mystery Writers of America, and was honored with that group’s Edgar Award and as one of mystery fiction’s Grand Masters. In 2001, his memoir, Seldom Disappointed, won both the Anthony and Agatha Awards for best nonfiction.


Albuquerque, New Mexico

Date of Birth:

May 27, 1925

Date of Death:

October 26, 2008

Place of Birth:

Sacred Heart, Oklahoma

Place of Death:

Albuquerque, New Mexico


B.A., University of Oklahoma, 1946; M.A., University of New Mexico, 1966

Read an Excerpt

Thief of Time, A

Chapter One

The moon had risen just above the cliff behind her. Out on the packed sand of the wash bottom the shadow of the walker made a strange elongated shape. Sometimes it suggested a heron, sometimes one of those stick-figure forms of an Anasazi pictograph. An animated pictograph, its arms moving rhythmically as the moon shadow drifted across the sand. Sometimes, when the goat trail bent and put the walker's profile against the moon, the shadow became Kokopelli himself. The backpack formed the spirit's grotesque hump, the walking stick Kokopelli's crooked flute. Seen from above, the shadow would have made a Navajo believe that the great yei northern clans called Watersprinkler had taken visible form. If an Anasazi had risen from his thousand-year grave in the trash heap under the cliff ruins here, he would have seen the Humpbacked Flute Player, the rowdy god of fertility of his lost people. But the shadow was only the shape of Dr. Eleanor Friedman-Bernal blocking out the light of an October moon.

Dr. Friedman-Bernal rested now, sitting on a convenient rock, removing her backpack, rubbing her shoulders, letting the cold, high desert air evaporate the sweat that had soaked her shirt, reconsidering a long day.

No one could have seen her. Of course, they had seen her driving away from Chaco. The children were up in the gray dawn to catch their school bus. And the children would chat about it to their parents. In that tiny, isolated Park Service society of a dozen adults and two children, everyone knew everything about everybody. There was absolutely no possibility of privacy. But she had done everything right. She had madethe rounds of the permanent housing and checked with everyone on the digging team. She was driving into Farmington, she'd said. She'd collected the outgoing mail to be dropped off at the Blanco Trading Post. She had jotted down the list of supplies people needed. She'd told Maxie she had the Chaco fever—needed to get away, see a movie, have a restaurant dinner, smell exhaust fumes, hear a different set of voices, make phone calls back to civilization on a telephone that would actually work. She would spend a night where she could hear the sounds of civilization, something besides the endless Chaco silence. Maxie was sympathetic. If Maxie suspected anything, she suspected Dr. Eleanor Friedman-Bernal was meeting Lehman. That would have been fine with Eleanor Friedman-Bernal.

The handle of the folding shovel she had strapped to her pack was pressing against her back. She stopped, shifted the weight, and adjusted the pack straps. Somewhere in the darkness up the canyon she could hear the odd screeching call of a saw-whet owl, hunting nocturnal rodents. She glanced at her watch: 10:11, changing to 10:12 as she watched. Time enough.

No one had seen her in Bluff. She was sure of that. She had called from Shiprock, just to make doubly sure that no one was using Bo Arnold's old house out on the highway. No one had answered. The house was dark when she'd arrived, and she'd left it that way, finding the key under the flower box where Bo always left it. She'd done her borrowing carefully, disturbing nothing. When she put it back, Bo would never guess it had been missing. Not that it would matter. Bo was a biologist, scraping out a living as a part-timer with the Bureau of Land Management while he finished his dissertation on desert lichens, or whatever it was he was studying. He hadn't given a damn about anything else when she'd known him at Madison, and he didn't now.

She yawned, stretched, reached for her backpack, decided to rest a moment longer. She'd been up about nineteen hours. She had maybe two more to go before she reached the site. Then she'd roll out the sleeping bag and not get out of it until she was rested. No hurry now. She thought about Lehman. Big. Ugly. Smart. Gray. Sexy. Lehman was coming. She'd wine him and dine him and show him what she had. And he would have to be impressed. He'd have to agree she'd proved her case. That wasn't necessary for publication—his approval. But for some reason, it was necessary to her. And that irrationality made her think of Maxie. Maxie and Elliot.

She smiled, and rubbed her face. It was quiet here, just a few insects making their nocturnal sounds. Windless. The cold air settling into the canyon. She shivered, picked up the backpack, and struggled into it. A coyote was barking somewhere over on Comb Wash far behind her. She could hear another across the wash, very distant, yipping in celebration of the moonlight. She walked rapidly up the packed sand, lifting her legs high to stretch them, not thinking of what she would do tonight. She had thought long enough of that. Perhaps too long. Instead she thought of Maxie and Elliot. Brains, both. But nuts. The Blueblood and the Poorjane. The Man Who Could Do Anything obsessed by the woman who said nothing he did counted. Poor Elliot! He could never win.

A flash of lightning on the eastern horizon—much too distant to hear the thunder and the wrong direction to threaten any rain. A last gasp of summer, she thought. The moon was higher now, its light muting the colors of the canyon into shades of gray. Her thermal underwear and the walking kept her body warm but her hands were like ice. She studied them. No hands for a lady. Nails blunt and broken. The skin tough, scarred, callused. Anthropology skin, they'd called it when she was an undergraduate. The skin of people who are always out under the sun, working in the dirt.

Thief of Time, A. Copyright © by Tony Hillerman. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Table of Contents

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews

A Thief of Time (Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee Series #8) 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 36 reviews.
Sola More than 1 year ago
Tony Hillerman strikes again! This is not just the product of an author who knows his background, but loves it in all shapes and sizes. What I love about any Hillerman book is the educational quality that is poured into each page, each character. I have learned more about native American culture than my several trips to the Big Res. And each is entertaining. My only regret is he only wrote 18 books on this theme. And each is a treasure.
tjsjohanna on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Things I really liked about this installment. First Leaphorn's personal life really comes to the forefront and there is an exploration of his coming to terms with the new realities of his life. Well done. Also, the relationship between Chee and Leaphorn begins to mature. They work together more as a team in this novel, with greater real regard for each other. Though the mystery is good, the character development really makes this novel shine in the series.
dbree007 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Joe Leaphorn and JIm Chee, two of my favorite detectives
Jim53 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Hillerman's mystery is set on and near a large Navajo reservation near the four corners area. An anthropologist goes missing, and native American policemen Joe Leaphornand Jim Chee become involved from different angles. The case involves "pot hunters," who sift ruins illegally for pottery or other objects that collectors will buy. The missing anthropologist might have been meeting a pot hunter or digging illegally herself.The veteran Leaphorn has submitted his resignation from the force as he nears the end of his bereavement leave after the death of his wife, but something about the case draws his interest. Chee, a younger man, is dealing with issues about being a Navajo or a modern American and the implications of this choice for relationships. The two men have a somewhat uneasy but respectful relationship.The novel gives us a view of the anthropological world and the remote history of the area, as well as a look at the Navajo way of thinking about a problem. One feature that I liked a lot was the fact that when Leaphorn (or Chee) can't think of something to say, he remains quiet, rather than babbling as so many of us do. We don't get any sort of detailed view of the life on the reservation, but we get some hints.The whodunnit aspect was ok, not great. I had guessed the perpetrator fairly early, but there were a couple of nice unexpected twists. Hillerman's style is unexceptional but unobtrusive and does not detract from the story. Overall a good but not great read.
flutterbyjitters on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Good mystery. I always enjoy a good mystery.
KApplebaum on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Yet another Hillerman, just as much fun as all the rest.
MerryMary on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Another fascinating adventure on the Big Rez in the Four Corners area. Thieves of time are illegal collectors that dig up pots and other relics from protected archeological sites and sell them on the black market. This mystery includes illegal pots, a missing woman, an old case that resurfaces, a doomed love affair, and two of my favorite characters, Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee.
LTW on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Set against the backdrop of the long-vanished Anasazi, Hillerman weaves a complex tale setting Anglo culture against the values of the Dinai, the Navajo tribal people. Elderly Joe Leaphorn and brash newcomer Jim Chee (with one foot in the spirituality of the Navajo healers and the other in the Western world) combine forces to solve the mystery surrounding the disappearance of an anthropologist.
corgidog2 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
New Mexico, archaeological digs and the Anasazi take the detective on a murder investigation. A quick read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you enjoy not only a good mystery but also learning about the Navajo, their culture and the land that makes up their reservation and the surrounding states, these are the books for you. I've never been disappointed with a Jim Chee and/or Joe Leaphorn mystery.
mgt13 More than 1 year ago
I've seen his books in many articles & been tempted to buy, but hadn't til now. I'm glad I did - love his "way with words" & highly recommend the series.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My favorite
Gilbert_M_Stack More than 1 year ago
Thief of Time was the first Tony Hillerman novel I ever read and it remains one of the best. It starts with a wonderfully creepy scene in which a researcher into the Anasazi peoples discovers she is not alone in the ruins. From there it becomes a fairly typical detective story as Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee of the Navajo Tribal Police each find themselves looking for the missing woman. To uncover the plot, they have to learn a decent amount about the illegal trade in Anasazi pots and the ending is solid and exciting.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago