The Blessing Way

Bibliographic Information 

Paperback: $24.81 , HarperTorch (2002)


Kindle: $9.99, 304 pages, HarperCollins (2009)

Joe Leaphorn Mysteries: $18, 499 pages, Wings Books (1992)

Audiobook: $17.95, 6,5 hours, Audible


  • ISBN-10: 051707771X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0517077719
  • ASIN: B00XV4MBE0

9780061808357 — Paperback
9780606161749 — Glued Binding
9780914001133 — Hardcover
9780922890095 — Hardcover
9781442079977 — Glued Binding
9780816154319 — Paperback
9780914001140 — Hardcover
9780380399413 — Paperback
9780922890118 — Hardcover
9780816154302 — Hardcover

Rating (VOYA)

4Q, 4P

Readers Annotation

A Navajo Wolf (witch) stalks the reservation in this Joe Leaphorn mystery.


Joe Leaphorn is looking for a Navajo man, Luis Horseman, when his friend Bergen McKee comes to the reservation. The two travel to Shoemaker’s to ask about Horseman. At the shop Leaphorn tells the people it would be better for Horseman to come out so Law and Order didn’t have to go in looking for him. 

McKee has come to the reservation to research Navajo Wolves, witches who may be on the reservation. The wolves are said to have cursed the Tsosie family, Horseman’s mother’s family. 

Horseman’s body is found on the side of the road.  It looks like he was drunk and for caught in a cave- in, but the medical examiner said the was no alcohol in his blood and he suffocated. 

McKee leaves Leaphorn to meet with his friend and colleague Canfield to research. They camp in a canyon. The next day McKee goes to meet with Leaphorn to discuss the case. Leaphorn has learned that the Tsosie family are going to have an Enemy Way ceremony. He decides to go and talk with Horseman’s family. McKee goes back to his campsite. 

When McKee gets back to the site he finds Canfield missing. The camper and Canfield’s truck are gone.  There is a note in their tent saying he went to get a Navajo help signed John.  Canfield’s first name is Jeremy.  McKee is then on high alert and hides in the shadows.  Someone is stalking him in the night. 

Meanwhile,  Leaphorn goes to the Enemy Way ceremony and speaks with the shaman, who concludes that while Leaphorn may know the Navajo way he does not believe it.  Leaphorn learns that Billy Nez (Horseman’s brother) has tracked the “witch.” Billy provided the “scalp” of the witch to be used in the ceremony, a hat.  Leaphorn realizes the heat belongs to the big Navajo that was at Shoemaker’s the other day. 

The next day,  McKee waits for Canfield’s assistant to come so that they can go get help.  He fell during the night,  injuring himself and giving himself a bedraggled appearance.  When the assistant Ellen Leon shows up he tries to convince her to leave and get help,  but his appearance makes her suspicious and afraid and thus they get caught by the big Navajo after finding Canfield’s body. 

The big Navajo wants McKee to write a letter saying he and Canfield are moving their camp. McKee cannot write the letter because he damaged his hand. The big Navajo moves them to the Anasazi ruins. The big Navajo’s partner Eddie meets them at the ruins.

Leaphorn thinks he’s figured out the case and sets about tracking the big Navajo’s truck. Some things don’t add up to his theory and he must reconsider. 

McKee tries to think of how to escape. He finds an escape tunnel out of the hole he and Ellen have been put in.  He plans abs eventually takes out Eddie. Ellen had been shot so he tries to find help but the big Navajo finds him first and shoots him. McKee hides under a tree and fashions a means to fight back.  He ends up killing the big Navajo. He drags himself to the man in the desert,  but the man was part of the crime ring. Luckily Leaphorn arrives to arrest the man,  who then committed suicide. 


I liked this book. Its an easy and interesting read. I don’t feel like I got a good feel for Joe Leaphorn, so I might pick up the next book in the series. 


Western, Mystery


Coyote Wind by Peter Bowen

The Shaman Sings by James D Doss


Mysteries set in modern Navajo culture. Characters steeped in a culture unfamiliar to most readers.

Book Discussion Questions and Ideas

Discuss Navajo beliefs and the impact of the white man on their culture. 

What do we think about the Enemy Way ceremony? 

Would Horseman have been safe if Leaphorn hadn’t talked to the big Navajo? 

Talk about the idea of the Navajo Wolf. 

Author’s website

Harper Collins site for Tony Hillerman






Why I Chose It

I wanted a Western and I loved the idea of having it set in Native culture. It was also a MUST READ in Genreflecting.

Other Information


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