If you’ve been lucky enough to have seen AMC’s new series Dark Winds, I’m guessing you are hooked like I am. Set in the 1970s Southwest, this riveting police procedural is produced by Robert Redford and George R. R. Martin and has a multifaceted plot which weaves Navajo tradition into its mysteries. The first season follows Navajo police officers Sherriff Joe Leaphorn, his new partner Jim Chee and deputy Bernadette Manuelito as they attempt to solve mysteries involving an armed bank heist, a missing helicopter and a murder of a young girl who appears frightened to death. With Indigenous talent, both in front of and behind the camera (the writers are all Native American), well-written characters, dark psychological themes, and a satisfying series finale, this show is destined to be a hit and has already been renewed for a second season.
If you can’t (or don’t) stream TV, you’re still in luck. Dark Winds is based on a fabulous series of books created by mystery writer Tony Hillerman. Hillerman wrote eighteen Leaphorn and Chee mysteries, from 1970 to 2006. When he passed away in 2008, his daughter Anne Hillerman took up the torch, writing an additional seven books starring Leaphorn, Chee and Manuelito, with more to follow. Anne’s books reignite an already engrossing series by allowing Bernadette Manuelito to grow and develop as a main character. And, like her dad, Anne Hillerman paints a wonderful tapestry in each book, deftly juggling multiple plot lines as her characters are forced to solve complex local crimes, often putting them at odds with other members of their Navajo community.
Check out The Blessing Way by Tony Hillerman, and be prepared to deep dive into a character-driven, riveting mystery with folklore and the supernatural at its core, set against a barren and beautiful landscape. And then rest easy, knowing you can spend time with your new friends for many books to come, simply by picking up the next 23 books in the series.