The Sinister Pig is bestselling author Tony Hillerman's sixteenth novel in the Jim Chee and Joe Leaphorn series. With an abundant cast of characters, it is an extremely complicated story that moves at a breakneck pace, compacting much -- perhaps too much -- information into its 228 pages.
An ex-CIA agent is hired to look into someone or group of someones responsible for stealing billions of dollars from a tribal trust fund. When his body turns up on an Indian reservation, Sergeant Jim Chee and Cowboy Dashee launch an investigation.
Officer Bernadette Manuelito has her hands full patrolling the endless miles of the New Mexico border. She and Chee care about each other, and this time apart only strengthens those feelings, though Chee struggles with admitting them to Manuelito. While working her territory, she winds up closer to solving the crime around the murdered ex-CIA agent by discovering old pipelines that lead back to the area the agent was investigating.
Retired Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn is also working the case, but from a different perspective. Leaphorn, Manuelito and Chee combine efforts and uncover a major conspiracy built on the three essential food groups: power, greed and drugs. As the three get closer to fitting the pieces of the puzzle together, one thing becomes abundantly clear. Whoever is behind the stolen money, missing people and murders will stop at nothing to protect the investments made and the opportunity to continue.
The Sinister Pig has taut chapters that could have used more meat. The characters were a little lifeless, the plot a little too convoluted (with the exception of chapters focusing on Manuelito; I'd love to read more of her adventures as a main character in her own series). The writing is fine; the plot is good and the Native American background intriguing. This was the first Hillerman book I have ever read. To give the author a fair shake, I would be willing to try one more. Perhaps the beginning of the series would be a good place to start.