Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Book Review: The Shepherd's Life

Book Review: THE SHEPHERD'S LIFE by James Rebanks non-fiction (2015)

James Rebanks dropped out of school at the age of fifteen, disgusted with teachers who wanted him to “make something of himself.” Totally uninterested in meaningless school lectures, he looks forward to working full time as a farmer, raising sheep alongside his father and his grandfather. He is proud to be part of an ongoing family, honest working folk who have lived on the hills and lakes of northwestern England since the twelfth and thirteenth centuries.
Shepherding hundreds of sheep is more than just leading them along a country lane. There are tups (rams) to buy and mate with the ewes, with all the attention to future performance that a race horse would be given. Swaledales and Herdwicks are the two breeds of sheep best suited for the high hill country. Sheep must be sheared, lambs birthed, diseases prevented. Hundreds of sheep must be moved to the high country grass in summer so that valley fields can produce enough hay for winter. Rock walls to be built and repaired, ears to tagged for identity. Lost sheep to be searched for, flocks to be sheltered during winter blizzards and springtime rains. Every day, rain or shine. This was the life James had chosen, and loved.
But something was lacking in his life. Drinking, fighting, hanging out with friends wasn't enough to look forward to. Then he met Helen, his sister's friend. He was 21, she was 18. “She had worked hard at school, read books, and knew all the stuff that I didn't. She believed I could do anything I set my mind to. That made everything possible.”
One of the pubs in town had shelves lined with books that no one ever read. Occasionally, James would borrow one, quietly with the landlord's permission. It wasn't cool to be into books.
A Korean War vet noticed James was carrying a book one night, and said that young guys knew nothing about war; he challenged the pub crowd to even name the plane on the book cover. The crowd looked blank. “Messerschmitt one-oh-nine,” James said. He gradually discovered he knew more about things than his pub-mates. One of them told him “What are you doing here . . . with us idiots? You should go to university and do something smart . . . .”
“Sometimes you can't go back when people know something new about you,” James discovered.
“My two younger sisters turned out far smarter than me: straight-A students. Sometimes I'd help the elder one with her homework. One night she challenged me to do her history homework. I think she had a hot date or something, so she left me to it. A few days later, she was seriously pissed off because the essay came back with a rave review from her teacher. I laughed. She told me that was it, no more goes at her schoolwork. From then on, I knew I could do A-levels if I wanted, or needed to.
“I went to the local adult education center when I was twenty-one, and got straight A's. It was easy if you had read the books I had. The instructor asked me all sorts of questions, ending with “Had I thought about applying for Oxford or Cambridge?” It seemed ridiculous that I might get in. But they were apparently looking for people from 'different backgrounds', which secured me an interview. I needn't have worried. It was easy if you weren't really bothered. So, much to the amusement of the other professors, I got into a row with one of them. I like arguing. I'm good at it. When he went too far and said something a bit silly, I teased him and said he was losing his grip. As I left when my time was up, I smiled at them as if to say, “F-you. I could do this all day.”
“They all smiled back. I knew I was in.”
But he went back to full time farm work after University. His book mentions study trips to foreign lands, but doesn't doesn't say how he found time for them. He divides a year into its four seasons by detailing the work load each season demands, and most of the book is about sheep, and quite interesting. He tells about a blizzard when he trudged through a chest-high snowdrift, to break trail for his best sheep dog, leading a band of sheep to safety at lower altitude.
He and Helen married, and have three young children, all aiming toward working the farm as they grow older. He describes a springtime afternoon in lambing season, guiding his six-year-old daughter, Bea, while she manages a difficult delivery of a lamb. She is exhausted at the end, but tells him, “We have to go for breakfast, Dad, and tell Molly I lambed one. And its bigger than the one she lambed.”
This is a book to be read to the very end, including the acknowledgements. He ends his story with his father's code of ethics: “Work that needs doing should be done.”
And he adds, “This is my life. I want for no other.”

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Book Review: A Gentleman In Moscow


Book Review: A GENTLEMAN IN MOSCOW, by Amor Towles (historical fiction, 2016)

Most Americans think of Twentieth Century Russia in terms of its Communist government. That is certainly the background scene throughout this novel, but in the foreground is Count Alexander Rostov, a man under house arrest for most of his adult life.
The story begins with Rostov's appearance before the People's Commissariat prosecutor in 1922: “Our inclination would be to have you taken from this chamber and put against the wall. But there are those among the party's senior ranks who regard you as a prerevolutionary hero. Thus, you will be returned to the Metropol Hotel where you live. But make no mistake: should you ever set foot outside the Metropol again, you will be shot.”
The hotel moves Rostov from his suite to a single room 10 x 10 feet on the unused fifth floor. He is permitted to keep certain personal articles; the rest become “property of the people.”
Well educated, polite, rarely at a loss for words, Rostov is cordial to all. A nine-year-old girl sits down uninvited, at his table in the hotel restaurant. “Is it true you are a count?”
“'Tis true.”
“Have you ever known a princess?”
“I have known many princesses.”
Her eyes widened. “Was it terribly hard to be a princess?”
“Terribly.”
Several days later, the girl, Nina Kulikova, has more questions. “What are the rules of being a princess? Those things expected of her?” She explains that her Papa is wonderful, and knows all about tractors, but he knows absolutely nothing about the workings of princesses.
Count Rostov patiently explains the basics of good manners and behavior of princesses, and a bond of friendship gradually grows. In return, the nine-year-old knows everything about the hotel, having purloined a pass key from somewhere, allowing access to everywhere in the hotel, from wine cellar to spying from the grand ballroom balcony, to the view of the Kremlin from from the roof. And the Count gains allies in Vasily the concierge, Andrey the the head waiter, Marina the seamstress, Emile the chef, and many others.
Months and years pass; 1930; Russia's first five-year plan has begun, which will change the nation from farming to an industrial power. Rostov is now head waiter in the exclusive Boyarsky restaurant on the hotel's second floor. Nina, now age seventeen, is part of a young team heading eastward into a farming province to oversee the exile of farm owners to Siberia; their farms now belong to the laborers. The province has only eight tractors, but factories are booming and the workers need bread. Alas, the combination of mismanagement and one of the worst droughts in history results in many deaths from starvation across the nation.

In 1930, a Colonel Osip, apparently part of the Foreign Affairs office, had required Rostov to meet with him for lunch once a month not only to learn French and English, but to help Osip understand the customs of those people.
It was a couple of years later that Nina showed up again. She had married one of her team, and has a 6-year old daughter. Her husband had just been arrested and sentenced to five years at hard labor. She needs to find lodging to be near him but needs someone to look after her daughter.”Only a month or two. I have no one else to turn to. Please!” With years of friendship between them, there can be only one answer. He crosses the hotel lobby to be introduced to Sofia. He has no idea what to do with a six-year-old, but noticing that the doll she clutches has no dress, he takes her to Marina, the hotel seamstress, who bonds with her easily. Sofia will stay with the Count for eighteen years.
She is easily her mother's equal in intelligence. And in mischievousness. At age thirteen, racing up the hotel's service stairs, she falls and hits her head on the cement steps. A chambermaid finds her unconscious and bleeding and calls Rostov. Rostov picks her up carefully and hurries down the stairs, across the lobby, out the door. It's the first time in twenty years he has been outside. He tells the taxi driver “St. Anselm's Hospital!” They arrive in minutes, but in the thirty years since Rostov was last there, the hospital is no longer Moscow's finest. The young nurse receptionist drops her magazine, summons the doctor on call, who calls a surgeon. But it is a different doctor who appears. “I'm Lasovsky, chief of surgery at First Municipal. I will be seeing to this patient.” He turns. “Are you Rostov?”
“Yes,” says the Count, astounded. Lasovsky takes a brief, competent history, assigns everyone their task, reassures Rostov, who must wait in the corridor.
It's perhaps two hours later when the surgeon comes out again, with a favorable report . Simultaneously, a guard opens the door for Colonel Osip, who confers with the surgeon.
Then he led Rostov down a back stairway to a metal door. “This is where we part. It's best if you never mention to anyone that either of us were here. You have been at my service for over fifteen years. It is a pleasure for once to be at yours.” Then he was gone.
It will be another ten years before Rostov and Sofia will each find freedom. But the depth of insight shown by author Towles will lead the reader to a satisfying end, including why Osip had rescued Sofia.

Monday, April 10, 2017

book review: A Lawyer's Journey, by Morris Dees

Book Review: A LAWYER'S JOURNEY by Morris Dees (biography, 2001)

A tame-sounding title of an attention-gripping story. Those of us who lived in northern Idaho in the 1990's might have called it “Stifling The Swastika In America.” We remember Richard Butler and his militant white supremacist Aryan Nation compound in the town of Hayden Lake, just north of Coeur d'Alene. Claiming their First Amendment rights, they would parade down the street behind a Nazi flag. Many people on the sidewalks would turn their backs to them in disapproval.
In 1999, a woman and her son were driving past the Aryan compound when their car happened to backfire. Guards on the compound immediately fired live ammunition, and the pair found themselves surrounded at gun-point. Though unharmed physically, they had several bullet holes in their car.
The resulting public indignation attracted Morris Dees, a lawyer with the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) in Alabama, who assisted the woman in suing Butler and his organization “for gross negligence in the selecting and supervision of his armed guards.” The six-million-dollar legal judgment bankrupted Butler, putting him out of business without bloodshed.
This was not Butler's first encounter with Mr. Dees. Butler had gone south in 1981 to assist the “Grand Dragon” of the Texas Ku Klux Klan (KKK), Louis Beam, to drive out – violently if necessary – the South Vietnamese who had immigrated to the Texas coastline after the Vietnam war ended. Many were now citizens, and some had shrimp boats in Galveston Bay. The unofficial leader of the Vietnamese in Texas, Colonel Nguyen Nam, had fought the communist North Vietnamese for years. Now the KKK leader accused Colonel Nam himself of being Communist, and accused lawyer Dees of being an agent of Satan.
The federal judge in Houston was not impressed with these assertions, and granted an injunction against the KKK, its leaders, and its illegal armed militia. The Texas KKK was forbidden to harass the Vietnamese fishermen, forbidden to ram or burn their boats, or commit other acts of violence.
Dees's book, essentially a declaration of war against racial violence, goes on to follow the Southern Poverty Law Center's activities in defending various victims of violence or threats by white supremacist groups. Son of a small-time cotton farmer in rural Mount Meigs, Alabama, he grew up working with his family's black hired hands. He saw a future as a country preacher, but his Daddy set him straight: “Bubba, you can do that on Sundays. But you need to do something you can make a living at. Be a lawyer. No boll weevil ever ruined a law book.”

His turning point came in 1963, when the dynamite bombing of a Sunday school class in Birmingham killed four small girls. Married, and back home from law school, he and his wife were good Baptists; he spoke to his adult Sunday school class about giving financial and spiritual help for another Baptist church in trouble. The class members nodded, sympathetic. “Where is the church?” someone asked.
“The Sixteenth Street [black] Church in Birmingham.” The members in the room quickly fell into two camps – those angered by even the suggestion of helping blacks, and those too shocked to be angry. Dees closed his eyes in silent prayer. When he opened them a few minutes later, only he and his wife were left in the room.
The Southern Poverty Law Center, which Morris Dees helped establish, provides free legal help for those who need it, charging only those who are able to pay; financed in part from income from his private law practice and his previous businesses, or books he has published, and mass mailings soliciting contributions. The book details many of his legal battles with white supremacists. The most dramatic one pits the black mother of a young man selected at random and beaten to death and then hung from a tree by members of the United Klans of America, with the knowledge and consent of the Klan's national commanders. Dees showed the jury photographs of the victim, printed in the Klan newspaper. His questioning of those commanders [the defendants] reveals their methods of training and arming Klan members with military weapons. It took the all-white, southern jury only about four hours to bring a verdict == “guilty on all counts”, and setting damages at seven million dollars.
Dees often moves back and forth in time between chapters, mentions many clients, colleagues and opponents (but provides a detailed and helpful index.) He freely expresses his emotions, sometimes anger, sometimes sadness or amused disbelief, but rarely fear. He does his research thoroughly. Conflict neither slows him down nor keeps him from doing what he believes is right. In my opinion, he himself exemplifies the best of both Christians and social activists.
At one point he hired armed guards 24 hours a day to protect his home. The scene in his first chapter is the floor of a room where he and his fourteen year old daughter crouched in the night, while the guards, one inside and one outside the house drove off two armed invaders. “Why do you do this work?” the girl asks him. In the last chapter; now age 17, she is in the balcony of the courtroom as the verdict against the Ku Klux Klan is announced and she sends him a note: “Good work, Daddy.”

Monday, April 3, 2017

book review: Baa Baa Black Sheep

BAA BAA BLACK SHEEP by Gregory “Pappy” Boyington, Bantam Books 1977
Book review: World War II in the Pacific, non-fiction

The name Flying Tigers was unknown to us when we were quartered in an obscure hotel in downtown San Francisco, waiting for a Dutch motorboat that would transport us to the Orient to join the American Volunteer Group.” Boyington's story begins in September 1941, before America was in the war. He temporarily left his Marine Corps job (captain and flight instructor) for the promise of action and good pay in China. The group's passports identified them as “missionaries”. President Roosevelt had approved this aid, but not publicly yet. Other passengers on the boat figured pretty quickly that they were anything but missionaries.

Their ship reached Rangoon, Burma, about a month before Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, bringing America into the World War that China had already been fighting for years. They joined Colonel Chenault's Flying Tigers, about a hundred American pilots attached to Generalissimo Chiang Kai Shek's Chinese army in Kunming, Southern China. Supplies came via the “Burma Road” connecting with British India. Japan outflanked their supply line by invading all of Southeast Asia in January 1942. Boyington returned to USA with six downed Japanese planes to his credit and an injured leg.

His service record in the Marines was lost in red tape for a year, reducing him to taking a job as parking lot attendant in Seattle. As one reads further into his life, a unique type of personality emerges. A thirty-year-old independent who not only figures situations out for himself, but acts on his conclusions, divorced, alcoholic, chain-smoker, often ignoring his physical pain; caring about his subordinates, unafraid to go over the heads of incompetent superior officers to reach someone who knows what the score is. Observes details. And gets results.

When Boyington got back to the war in 1943, the battle for Guadalcanal was winding down and his squadron was based on the Russell Island group while the Japanese were gradually being forced to retreat northward. The Japanese “zero” plane was the equal of any of the American planes of the time, and battle outcomes depended on the skill and experience of individual pilots. Boyington, already an ace, and several years older than his squadron mates, earned the nickname “Pappy”, or “Gramps” from his guidance of his fliers. His squadron named itself the “Black Sheep” for their independent manner of fighting, both in the air and off duty.

His attack on Kahili, the well-armed air base on Bouganville caught the Japanese entirely by surprise. With twelve planes staying high in the sky, he led three others at a low level up the east side of the island chain, as though inspecting the coastline; then on farther north and around to the west of the airfield, flying back at tree-top level, four planes wing-tip to wing-tip, strafing the length of the field, reversing and strafing again, then up and homeward, leaving his other twelve planes to bomb the harbor at will.

He soon approached the Allied Forces' shoot-down record – twenty six planes. Buddies and news reporters alike were urging him to get one more before his third and final tour of duty was up. He did, but was also shot down himself. He bailed out into the sea with multiple injuries. He inflated his life raft and was picked up by a Japanese submarine next day. The pharmacist mate spoke English, “You have nothing to fear on this sub.” A six-hour trip brought them to Rabaul, the regional Japanese headquarters. Pappy was a prisoner of war for the next two years. Americans presumed him dead.

He experienced brutality from some guards, kindness from others. Japanese had respect for a hero, no matter what his nationality. And some were already seeing the inevitable outcome of the war. Pappy learned to understand and speak Japanese during his internment, and continued to observe and reflect. His story is worth reading thoughtfully.

To us in the Northwest, he is a local author, having grown up near Okanagen, Washington. Coeur d'Alene, Idaho has named its airfield after him.


Thursday, March 30, 2017

THE ART OF HEARING HEARTBEATS by Jan-Philipp Sendker
book review, fiction, 2006

Julia Win's father disappeared the day after the family had celebrated her graduation from law school. He had waked her early that next morning to say he was flying to Boston and would be back in two or three days. That was four years ago.
      Investigation showed that he had bought a ticket, not to Boston but to Los Angeles and onward to Thailand. Investigation by both the FBI and American embassies in Thailand and in Burma, his country of birth, had no record of his arrival, except his discarded passport.
      Now, she finds a package from her mother waiting at her New York apartment. A collection of her father's old letters and papers her mother had found in the attic; her mother didn't need them anymore. Among them, a love letter dated 1955, addressed to “My beloved Mi Mi”, in Kalaw, Shan State, Burma.
      Although Julia knew her parents' marriage was lukewarm at best, she had missed her father very much these past four years, and was perplexed at where and why he had gone. This clue was the first that offered a way to find out. She had never been to Burma, but she went now.
      Kalaw is a medium-sized town near the end of a branch railroad line, and shares an airstrip with a larger town of Taunggyi; both are vacation spots for people to escape the tropical heat of cities down on the plains. Julia finds herself in a small, squalid tea-house under the scrutiny of townspeople curious about why this foreigner has come. All except one elderly man who has watched her since she entered.
      He politely introduces himself, U Ba, addresses her by name, and says he has been waiting for her arrival for four years. Yes, he has known her father, almost since birth. He can help her find him, “but first I must ask you a question: Julia, do you believe in love?”
      Julia shakes her head, her lawyer's mind wondering what kind of scam is coming . But U Ba continues, “Your father's words were, 'I am not a religious man, and love, U Ba, is the only force I truly believe in.'” He got up and left, after suggesting they meet again the next day.
      She got up to pay her bill. The waiter did not want her money. “U Ba's friends are our guests,” he said, and left her tip on the table.
      U Ba returned next day to tell her about Tin Win (her father's Burmese name). His mother's little brother had drowned while she was watching him. She never got over her sense of guilt and worthlessness. She married Khin Maung, a kind man and a good worker, but a man of few words. Two weeks after Tin Win's birth half of the chickens got sick and died. It was custom to consult the local astrologer to find out whether the child's birth was the cause. The astrologer said the child would bring great sorrow. Something in his head. He also foresaw great talent in the child, but the stunned parents were no longer listening. They accepted the prophesy as inevitable and never expressed much love for their son. Especially after the father died in an accident, the mother distanced herself from her son.
      When Tin Win was eight, she packed her few belongings and left, telling him she would be back “soon.” He sat on a tree stump and waited, refusing all food a neighbor brought him. On the fourth day, he sipped some water. And waited. On the sixth day his eyesight began to blur. On the seventh, the neighbor thought he had died. She took him into her home and gradually she became Tin Win's first ally. But he was now blind, distinguishing only light and darkness.
      He compensated by developing his hearing and his touch. He knew every obstacle in his daily path. He could hear the heartbeats of those around him, and could tell much about their owners' mood and personality. He did well in the village monastery's school, One day he was waiting at school for his neighbor to return from the market, he heard the soft steady beating of a heart he didn't recognize; he took a few steps forward, heard it louder. “Is someone there?” he whispered.
      “Yes. Right at your feet.” It was a girl's voice. “You're about to trip over me.”
      “Who are you? What's your name?”
      “Mi Mi.”
      Thus began a lasting friendship. She was a cripple from birth, unable to stand or walk. Her brothers or mother would carry her on their backs. Tin Win learned to do the same, and she would guide him where to go. He was her feet; she was his eyes, as she rode on his back. They went everywhere together.
Julia had never known her successful American attorney father had been blind in his youth. “When are you going to let me see him?” she asked U Ba.
      “You are not yet ready,” he told her. First she must know how Tin Win had had an obligation to fulfill. At age eighteen,Tin Win was summoned to Rangoon, the capital city, by an uncle he had never met. To a Burmese Buddhist, such a summons by an aged head of family must be obeyed. He went with the two men his uncle had sent, expecting to return in a few days. But it was fifty years before he saw his loved one again. Tin Win's story is a poignant but serious examination of the many aspects of human love.

Note to my new subscribers: I do not sell books, except the few I have authored. I review others to improve my writing skill, but do not want to spoil the ending for my readers. You can find most of the books in your local library, or favorite bookstore, or online.  I welcome discussion and questions, but am still learning the basics of operating this gadget, and communicate best through email.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Subscription requests

I am suddenly getting multiple requests to subscribe to my website and /or my blogs. I’m pleased at your interest, but the site is free; no need to subscribe. just go to www.dahlbergbooks.net and get on the blog site from the menu. If you copy any of my stuff, please include my name and website as the source. No ads, please; and I’m not into facebook, twitter, etc.
 I have authored seven books to date (fiction, memoir, and medical), available from Amazon.com  and have been doing weekly book reviews for the Shoshone News-Press for the past nine months. I welcome comments and questions on my work, via email. Also am curious about this sudden spate of requests – what got it started? And who are you as a person, besides an email address?
Keith R. Dahlberg

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

book review:The Shape Shifter, by Tony Hillerman

Book Review: THE SHAPE SHIFTER, by Tony Hillerman (2006) Crime Fiction

Hillerman's novels feature the Navajo Tribal Police (A real police force, HQ in Shiprock, New Mexico) and Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn and his sidekick Sgt. Jim Chee. As this story opens, Leaphorn is newly retired, has just come up to headquarters to pick up his mail.
      There is a letter from Mel Bork, a guy he knew when they were both rookie cops years ago, investigating suspected arson in a tourist shop where some very rare Indian artifacts had been burned up. Mel encloses a magazine photo “Hey, Joe, ain't this that rug you kept telling me about, one of a kind, and destroyed in the fire, and we agreed that maybe the fire really was a crime, not just a careless drunk and some talk about witchcraft? If you're interested, give me a call.”
      Bored with retirement, Joe thought why not? He phoned the number in the letter. Mrs. Bork answered, and when she learned Leaphorn was an old police friend, she said he was just who she needed to talk to. Mel had gone two days ago to see a man who owned an old valuable Indian rug, and he hadn't returned. The local sheriff's office yesterday had said not to worry yet, but then she had received a threatening phone message. She played it back to Leaphorn. A man's deep voice: “Mr. Bork, you need to get back to minding your own business. Keep poking at old bones and they'll jump out and bite you.” A chuckle. “You'll be just a set of new bones.”
      “Mrs. Bork, keep that tape in a safe place. Call Sgt. Garcia at the sheriff's office down there and have him listen to the tape. Did Mel mention any one he was going to see?”
      “I think maybe a Mr. Tarkington; he has an art gallery here in Flagstaff.”
When Tarkington finds out the Navajo police are investigating 'The mystical rug' said to be destroyed by fire years ago, he tells Leaphorn, “I think we need to talk about this, but not over the phone. Where are you?”
      “In Window Rock.”
      “How about coming to the gallery tomorrow?” Flagstaff is 200 miles from Window Rock, but that's not far in the southwest. Leaphorn went.
      The picture of a very expensive home with a very rare artifact hanging on the wall is a house not far from Flagstaff, Tarkington says. Owned by a man named Jason Delos. The man came up from California for his wife's health. Nobody has ever seen her. He has an Asian man as a sort of butler and cook. Gossip has him to be ex-CIA from the Vietnam war, whether retired or fired depends on who you listen to. The rug hanging on the wall? Impossible to duplicate it – too many variables – dyes, weaving styles, age. Some say it depicts the Navajos in exile 150 years ago, a tale of sorrows, hatreds, curses, evil spirits of the worst kind, 'shape shifters' who could change from human form to animal in an instant – not at all what Navajos usually commemorate. Some say it was destroyed in that fire that Leaphorn investigated years ago.
      Leaphorn meets Sgt. Garcia in a coffee shop near the sheriff's office in Flagstaff. “I've worked with Bork a few times. Private investigator; seems like a nice guy. This tape his wife had me listen to has me worried. What's he into? You talk to this man Delos yet?
      "Tell him you're investigating a crime? What crime? We don''t have one yet, do we?”
      “I'll see him tomorrow. Just wondering about that one-of-a-kind rug that was said to be burned up all those years ago.” They decide to go up to the old crime scene, and they find one of the original robber gang digging there, Tomas Delonie, just out of his 25-year prison sentence. He admits he is looking for any part of Shewnack's loot that might be buried there.
      Leaphorn remembers now how he had stopped at old Grandma Peshlakai's, who had just been robbed of two bucketsful of pinyon sap. He had explained to her that he had to leave on a call to Totter's Trading Post where a fire had just killed an important murder suspect.
      “He's dead?” she had asked. Leaphorn agreed.He can't run then. This man I want you to catch is running away with my buckets of pinyon sap.” She still scowls at him every time they meet, even though he had recovered her empty buckets from the site of the fire.
      “You find anything yet?” Garcia now asks Delonie.
      “Not yet.”
      “You think you will?”
      “I wanted to just see that the bastard is really dead. Get closure. The Navajos, like Mr. Leaphorn here, have that curing ceremony to help them forgive and forget. My tribe has never had such a ceremony. But maybe just seeing where the bastard burned up will work for me. ”
      Back in Flagstaff next morning, Leaphorn places a call to Mr. Delos. A polite voice asks him to wait a moment. “Mr. Leaphorn, Mr. Delos say he can see you. He ask you to be here at eleven.”
A small man waits for him. In his early forties, he had a smooth, flawless complexion. A Hopi or Zuni, he thought at first, then changed it to probably Vietnamese or Lao. “I am Tommy Vang,” he said, smiling. “He say bring you to the office.”
      Mr. Delos was cordial but non-committal. Leaphorn came away with little more than he knew before, except for a neatly packaged lunch Tommy Vang had packed for his trip home.
Back home, the ten o'clock news caught his attention, about a fatal car accident. State police would not identify the driver until next-of-kin had been notified; bystanders said it was a prominent Flagstaff businessman . . . .

      I don't want to spoil the end of this story for you readers. Author Hillerman is justly famous as an interpreter of Navajo culture and those of other minority groups. His many awards include former president of the Mystery Writers of America, and the Navajo Tribe's Special Friend Award. This is one of the last books he wrote before his death in 2008 at age 83.