Coyote Waits (1990)

Description: 

Coyote Waits is the tenth Tony Hillerman Navajo Mystery novel and features Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee of the Navajo Tribal Police. The coyote in Navajo mythology is an irresponsible trickster and is a main character in many stories.

Story: 

Setting out to find his good friend and fellow Tribal Policeman Delbert Nez, Officer Jim Chee is shocked to discover Nez's car in flames and Nez unconscious inside. Badly burning himself to save his friend, Chee is even more horrified to discover that Nez has already been fatally shot. He doesn't have to go far to make an arrest: Ashie Pinto, a poor elderly Navajo shaman staggers down the road near the scene of the crime with the murder weapon in one hand and a bottle in the other.

Chee's only bit of good fortune is Janet Pete's recent return to Albuquerque to work for the Department of Justice. But his emotions become mixed when he learns that she has taken on the defense of his friend's murderer. And Pete's task is made nearly impossible by Pinto's refusal to speak-even to deny guilt in the crime. Meanwhile, Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn is reluctantly persuaded by a relative of Pinto to investigate the case privately. As Leaphorn becomes more intrigued by a number of troubling and unanswered questions, Chee too is goaded into investigative action through Pete's implication that he might not be doing all he could to uncover a more complicated truth because the victim was a friend.

Eventually, their separate trails lead both detectives to the heart of a complex plot involving a historical find worth a fortune to one man and even more to another's reputation.