A Thief of Time is the eighth novel in the series of Leaphorn and Chee mysteries. The phrase “a thief of time” refers to an unscrupulous pot hunter who steals pots from Native American sacred ruins for very lucrative rewards. As the novel reveals, old pots go for exorbitant sums: Leaphorn reads an auction catalog advertising a burial pot for more than thirty-eight thousand dollars.
When an anthropologist disappears, Leaphorn investigates. When a backhoe disappears, Chee is on the case. The two separate cases seem to coincide when it turns out that Dr. Eleanor Friedman-Bernal specializes in pots from the long vanished Anasazi people, and illegal pot poachers presumably used the backhoe. When the backhoe is found, there are two dead bodies on the ground nearby. Not surprisingly, the two policemen end up working together.
Those who work with Friedman-Bernal are questioned, including the beautiful Maxie Davis and the wealthy Randall Elliott, who would do anything to impress Maxie. Following the path of illegal pots leads both policemen to the Reverend Slick Nakai, who holds tent revivals. Also questioned is the wealthy Harrison Houk, whose schizophrenic son slaughtered the rest of his family some years before. When the elder Houk later turns up as the third murder victim, a note is found on him saying “She’s still alive up.” Leaphorn finds the missing “doctor hyphenated,” as Leaphorn calls her, in the Anasazi ruins. Brigham...
(The entire section is 516 words.)