The main author of the national detective, whose works are the standard of quality for this sub-genre, is Anthony Grove Hillerman, who focuses on the culture of the Navajo Indian tribe that inhabits the South-West of America. Hillerman is not only one of the most famous authors of the detective stories, but also an active promoter of the national detective, so he has to act a reviewer of the majority of works written in this genre. He was actively involved in public life, devoting his time to the promotion of the rights of the indigenous peoples of America.
One of the most popular novels by the author is The Ghostway. In the novel, which is the sixth of Hillerman’s Navajo novels, Jim Chee’s inner fights for identity give the means for studying Navajo culture and white civilization, at least as it is presented by urban Los Angeles. The tone of the novel is set by Hillerman through the words of Joseph Joe, an old Navajo, who becomes a witness of a shooting and murder in the parking lot of a reservation laundromat. He says that the driver was Navajo, but the work was done by a white man. The parking lot murder, involvement of the FBI, and an escape of Navajo girl lead Chee into the dirty world of greater Los Angeles, where he faces the realities of leaving the reservation and the Navajo ways. Chee doesn’t have easy choices, and Hillerman gave him no appropriate answers.
Chee moves in two directions. He deeply believes in his people and in the Navajo concept of horzo, which means to walk in beauty, achieve harmony with the surroundings. In addition, because his family consists of famous musicians and singers (medicine men), he is well aware that the Dinee are losing their culture.
The novel has a very believable plot, but it is not the plot that makes the readers to keep reading. There are several subplots that make the book even more interesting.
One of such subplots is a continuous tension between the FBI and the Navajo Tribal Police. Neither of the groups trusts or respects each other, but circumstances put them together on the case. The irony is that Chee’s girlfriend almost persuaded him to apply for a position in the FBI.
Another subplot is the combination of Navajo religious traditions that present in the case. One of them is the preparation for death and burial. Both rituals are important in the novel, and the writer describes them very interestingly. Another tradition is the Ghostway, i.e. the cleansing ceremony of those who were in contact with the malevolent Ghost.
The Ghostway is a tense novel with many twists. Even though we know from the beginning who the murder was, the outcome of the novel is not given.
The main author of the national detective, whose works are the standard of quality for this sub-genre, is Anthony Grove Hillerman, who focuses on the culture of the Navajo Indian tribe that inhabits the South-West of America.