Dance Hall of the Dead

by Tony Hillerman

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How many law enforcement agencies worked to solve the murder in Dance Hall of the Dead?

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A total of six different law enforcement agencies worked on solving the murder case in Dance Hall of the Dead.

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During the course of the investigation that unfolds in Dance Hall of the Dead, no less than six law enforcement agencies play a role. Three of these made up of local and tribal authorities, while the other three are federal institutions. The first officers to get involved are Zuni Police Chief Ed Pasquaanti and Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn. Leaphorn is a Najavo detective who has both unsurpassed tracking skills and in-depth knowledge of Najavo traditions. Leaphorn’s motive is to protect George Bowlegs, who many in the community believe to be the murderer. Leaphorn, on the other hand, is convinced that Bowlegs is likely to be the next victim.

The FBI later takes control of the investigation, because they believe that the case is related to illegal drug smuggling. Representatives of the federal drug enforcement agency show up, as well as tribal police, state police, tribal police, and elders. Ultimately, however, it is Joe Leaphorn and other members of the Zuni tribal police who get to the bottom of the case. Specifically, it is Joe himself who realizes in a moment of clarity that Professor Reynolds was the killer. He chooses to leave the Zuni people themselves to exact justice and revenge in a manner that they see fit.

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In Dance Hall of the Dead, six agencies are named in the investigation of the murder. After the disappearance of two boys from a Native American reservation begins to be linked to drug trafficking and much illicit activity, the authorities called in to investigate it escalate drastically. Initially, the FBI are called in as well as local police because, since it is on a Native American reservation, the crime falls under the federal jurisdiction.

As the investigation continues, several other agencies are called in, both local and federal. There are members of the federal drug enforcement agency that arrive, state police, tribal police, tribal elders, and even Anthropologists who help to untangle the twisted cultural issues that complicate the murder investigation and its implications.

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In all, no fewer than six separate law enforcement agencies are involved in this particular murder case: three local, three federal. The FBI are the lead investigators, because, as well as the killing of the Zuni boys, there are also drug offenses involved, which makes it a federal case. In fact, the FBI are convinced that the murders are in some way related to drug trafficking.

What's notable about the FBI's involvement in the case is that their main focus is on the transportation and distribution of illegal drugs rather than the actual murders. It's left to Joe Leaphorn and the other officers of the Zuni tribal police force to deal with the complex cultural issues involved and how they relate to the deaths of the murder victims.

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