The Wailing Wind by Tony Hillerman - Book Report/Review Example

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At first, it seems like an ordinary death, so, while she waits for people from the medical examiner’s office to show up, she picks up an old tobacco…
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The Wailing Wind by Tony Hillerman
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The Wailing Wind by Tony Hillerman. The book opens with Officer Bernadette (Bernie) Manuelito discovering the dead body of Thomas Doherty in an abandoned vehicle. At first, it seems like an ordinary death, so, while she waits for people from the medical examiner’s office to show up, she picks up an old tobacco tin lying there and collects some weed seeds: she is interested in botany.
However, later it is discovered that this was no ordinary death, but was, in fact, a homicide and Officer Bernie gets worried that her actions might have resulted in the contamination of evidence at, what is now, the crime scene, something that gets her in trouble not only with her own department, but with the FBI as well, who are there to investigate the murder. Bernie redeems herself and her honor later, when she uses her botanical knowledge to discover where exactly Doherty was murdered.
Later, when she discovers gold dust inside the tobacco tin that she picked up from the site of the murder, Officer Bernie takes it to her boss Sergeant Jim Chee, who, in turn, contacts the retired Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn for help; Doherty had some documents concerning the lost Golden Calf Mine on his person, as well as some copies from the evidence file of McKay’s homicide; this was a point of interest for Leaphorn, as it linked Doherty to a case during Leaphorn’s police career, the culmination of which Leaphorn was not satisfied with.
Some years ago (before the novel starts), Wiley Denton, a rich, eccentric man who was obsessed with finding the same gold mine, killed a man Marvin McKay. Denton claimed self-defense, stating that McKay was trying to con him into buying a fake map of the Golden Calf Mine; a struggle ensued that ended in Denton shooting, and killing McKay. Denton served less than a year in prison for this. Linda Denton, Wiley Denton’s wife, disappeared the same day as the shooting and was never heard from again, with most of the people believing that Linda was involved in the con and had run away to escape from her husband’s ire. What puzzled Leaphorn till now was “where did Denton’s wife disappear off to?”, as he does not believe it possible that Linda, who loved Denton so much, could be guilty of such a thing.
An interesting event occurred the same day Linda disappeared: a group of youngsters heard a woman wailing in the wind while they were crossing the grounds of Fort Wingate. Nobody knew who she was and why she was wailing.
Now, the questions that Leaphorn strives to answer are: Who killed Doherty? Where is Linda Denton? And what took place in the grounds of Fort Wingate?
The answers are really surprising: Wiley Denton killed Doherty to prevent Doherty from revealing the exact location of the Golden Calf Mine. Denton always knew the location of the gold mine and did not want it to be revealed for fear that his pending contract for the sale of the land where the mine was situated would not go through were it to be known that a gold mine was located there. This was also the reason he killed McKay, even though McKay had a “Plan B”: he had kidnapped Denton’s wife and locked her up in a bunker, Denton ended up killing him to prevent anyone from knowing the location of the Golden Calf Mine.
Linda Denton was lying dead in bunker number D2187 at Fort Wingate. She died because nobody knew she was locked there (Denton killed McKay before the latter told him about Linda being locked up at Fort Wingate).
As for the wailing woman, it was Linda Denton crying out for help from the bunker she was locked in, hoping someone would hear her and get her out before she died a slow and painful death. Read More
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