I'm not beginning with a specific one of Tony Hillerman's many titles because I haven't found one yet that I didn't like.
I'm writing about Hillerman today because at my wonderful local public library the other day I picked up his fourth novel, "People of Darkness," thinking I would just scan a few pages and then put it back on the shelf.
But I kept reading until it was time to leave, checked it out, took it home, and kept reading until I was done. That's how good these books are.
In "People of Darkness," a rich woman asks Sergeant Jim Chee of the Navajo Tribal Police to investigate the theft of a memento from her husband's study. She tells a lot of lies, and then her husband tells a lot more lies, and then another cop tells Chee to back off.
Problem is, even if he wanted to, he can't. He's drawn into the mystery of the memento, a box full of mysterious black rocks and some World War II ribbons.
So he has to find out why a man who is already dying of cancer is assassinated and his body stolen from the hospital; who the assassin is and what his connection is with other crimes; what really happened years ago in an oil-drilling accident; and the true identity of the rich man with the box of black rocks.
Like all of Hillerman's novels, this book is not only brilliantly plotted with complex and believable characters, but it also delves into the history and customs of the Navajo and some of the Pueblo tribes.
This would be an ideal beach book, meaning you can read it fast and furiously, but with the added advantage of feeling you haven't wasted your time. (Get it used for as little as 30 cents at Amazon or maybe you'll be lucky like I was and find it at your local library.)
(You can read more about Hillerman and find lists of his many books here. And here is Amazon's list of his books.)