Tony Hillerman was an American mystery writer popular for his Leaphorn & Chee crime mystery series. One of New Mexico’s most prominent writers, he has written until his death over 20 fiction books and more than 10 non-fiction biographies, memoirs and non-fiction books.
Tony Hillerman (Anthony Grove Hillerman) was born in 1925 in Sacred Heart, Oklahoma and died in Albuquerque, New Mexico in 2008 at the age of 83.
He was raised in Pottawatomie County, Oklahoma, where he also went to elementary and high school, attending classes with Pottawatomie children.
He was a decorated combat veteran, serving as a mortar-man in World War II between August 1943 to October 1945.
After the war, he enrolled at the University of Oklahoma, where he met his wife Marie Unzner, who was at the time a student in microbiology.
Between 1948–1962 he was a journalist, and in 1966 he moved with his family to Albuquerque, where enrolled at the University of New Mexico, earning a masters degree.
While working at the Borger News-Herald in Borger, Texas, he met the sheriff of Hutchinson County, who would become the model for his Joe Leaphorn series.
Between 1966 to 1987 he taught journalism at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, where he lived until his death in 2008. While teaching journalism he also began writing his first books.
Overall Tony Hillerman wrote more than 30 books, 18 of which were part of the Navajo crime procedural series.
His books are known for their compelling descriptions of the Southwestern region, along with its history and the Navajo experience, which he drew upon his own knowledge acquired during his many years living in the area.
In 2008 The Tony Hillerman Library in Albuquerque has been named in his honor, and in 2009 the city opened the Tony Hillerman Middle School.
During his life, he received numerous awards both for his writing and his patriotic duty during World War II.
After his death, his daughter, Anne Hillerman, continued the Leaphorn and Chee series.
His first fiction nomination came in 1972 when he got an award for his book The Fly on the Wall, which was published in 1971. His last novel was The Shape Shifter, published in 2006. The series was once again picked up several years after his death by his daughter, Anne Hillerman.
Here are the Tony Hillerman books in order for his fiction writings.
Leaphorn & Chee Series In Order
1. The Blessing Way (Leaphorn & Chee #1), 1970
2. Dance Hall of the Dead (Leaphorn & Chee #2), 1973
3. Listening Woman (Leaphorn & Chee #3), 1978
4. People of Darkness (Leaphorn & Chee #4), 1980
5. The Dark Wind (Leaphorn & Chee #5), 1982
6. The Ghostway (Leaphorn & Chee #6), 1984
7. Skinwalkers (Leaphorn & Chee #7), 1986
8. A Thief of Time (Leaphorn & Chee #8), 1988
9. Talking God (Leaphorn & Chee #9), 1989
10. Coyote Waits (Leaphorn & Chee #10), 1990
11. Sacred Clowns (Leaphorn & Chee #11), 1992
12. The Fallen Man (Leaphorn & Chee #12), 1996
13. The First Eagle (Leaphorn & Chee #13), 1998
14. Hunting Badger (Leaphorn & Chee #14), 1999
15. The Wailing Wind (Leaphorn & Chee #15), 2002
16. The Sinister Pig (Leaphorn & Chee #16), 2003
17. Skeleton Man (Leaphorn & Chee #17), 2004
18. The Shape Shifter (Leaphorn & Chee #18), 2006
19. Spider Woman’s Daughter (Leaphorn & Chee #19), 2013 (by Anne Hillerman)
20. Rock With Wings (Leaphorn & Chee #20), 2015 (by Anne Hillerman)
21. Song of the Lion (Leaphorn & Chee #21), 2017 (by Anne Hillerman)
Standalone Mystery Novels By Tony Hillerman
The Fly on the Wall, 1971
The Boy Who Made Dragonfly, 1972 (book for children)
Buster Mesquite’s Cowboy, 1973 (book for children)
Finding Moon, 1995