Tony Hillerman, Rest In Peace

by Jeff Abbott on October 27, 2008

We have lost a giant. Tony Hillerman passed away yesterday at the age of 83. Marilyn Stasio writes a very complete and moving obituary in the New York Times.
When I first got seriously interested in mystery fiction, I had read a lot of the British writers, but not so many of the Americans. I first read an essay of Mr. Hillerman’s in a collection called Colloquium on Crime, where several prominent mystery writers talked about their process and craft. I started reading his novels and loved them not just for their evocative prose, but for the richly detailed characters, and for the particular way he had of bridging Navajo tradition with the modern world. His books were fired with a vividness that few writers command. I got to meet him at the Left Coast Crime conference in Scottsdale many years ago, when he spoke from a corner armchair and kept a packed room spellbound.
A few years ago, his name was suggested as someone who might offer a blurb for PANIC. I remember thinking, oh, he’s got to be too busy, or this isn’t his kind of book. Mr. Hillerman offered a very kind quote. I remember hearing the words over the phone “we have a quote from Tony Hillerman” and sort of my brain freezing up, because he was one of my heroes, one of the modern masters of the crime novel. He was a very generous man who was much admired and loved by his fellow authors. If you have not read him, The Blessing Way is a terrific place to start. My other favorites include Dance Hall of the Dead and Skinwalkers.
My deepest condolences to his family and his friends.

    Leave a Comment

    Previous post:

    Next post: