Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn is a fictional character created by American mystery writer Tony Hillerman, one of two officers of the Navajo Tribal Police that feature in a number of novels. The other officer is Jim Chee.
Leaphorn, the older of the two policemen, is a realist who does not believe in Navajo superstition. But at the same time, he realizes that many traditional Navajo still do hold such beliefs and often act on them in a violent manner. Leaphorn is called the "Legendary Lieutenant" by many members of his staff, and some of the younger policemen (such as Chee) hold him in awe.
Leaphorn is also featured in television dramatizations of some Hillerman novels, played on the American TV network PBS.
In his autobiography Seldom Disappointed (2002), Hillerman reveals that he named Leaphorn after the ancient Minoan practice of bull-jumping , as he was reading a book on Minoan culture while writing his first novel.
The most notable feature of Leaphorn's method of police work is his large, color-coded map. It is an enlargement of an old auto club road map of the Four Corners area, on which he marks different kinds of crimes with different-colored pins - red-headed pins stand for alcohol-related crimes, for example. This process then allows him to notice patterns that link various crimes together, and helps him solve them. Leaphorn eventually retires, and promptly begins working as a private investigator; he frequently gives Jim Chee advice (though never unsolicited).
At one time, Lieutenant Leaphorn was married to the love of his life, Emma. Unfortunately, she dies between Skinwalkers and A Thief of Time . Later, Leaphorn becomes attracted to an anthropologist named Louisa Bourbonette, who he meets while working on a case.
Joe Leaphorn appears in the following novels. In each novel since Skinwalkers, he is joined by Jim Chee.
- The Blessing Way (1970)
- Dance Hall of the Dead (1973)
- Listening Woman (1978)
- Skinwalkers (1986) made into a Mystery movie by the Public Broadcasting Service
- A Thief of Time (1988) made into a Mystery movie by the Public Broadcasting Service
- Talking God (1989)
- Coyote Waits (1990) made into a Mystery movie by the Public Broadcasting Service
- Sacred Clowns (1993)
- The Fallen Man (1996)
- The First Eagle (1998)
- Hunting Badger (1999)
- The Wailing Wind (2002)
- The Sinister Pig (2003) ISBN 006019443X
- Skeleton Man (2004)
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