I picked this book up thinking that it was another of Hillerman’s Chee/Leaphorn books that I have enjoyed a number of times. It is very much not that. I still liked it a lot, maybe more.
This is the story of Moon Mathias who must travel to Vietnam right at the end of the Vietnam War to bring home the daughter of his deceased brother. The story is about the problems he faces as he struggles through a war-torn country to find the niece that he didn’t even know he had. Yet, as the title implies, this story isn’t about finding the little girl that he feels obligated to find. This story is about finding Moon.
Moon is a troubled man who has been living a life of poor decisions and shallow relationships for a long time and this story is a journey of how he finds himself and learns to be the person he always wanted to be.
There are times in our lives when trials make us into something different. We are forged through the fires of diversity into something new. Sometimes we come out something better.
Hillerman has written something special in this book, a story that explores what it means to be a person and how we gain compassion and maturity.
It’s kind of shockingly brutal and raw for a Tony Hillerman book which usually have an air of PG-rated murder mystery that avoids most of the gory details. This book isn’t overly violent but it does take place in a just barely post-war Vietnam and features a protagonist who is trying to come to terms with his own shallow life decisions up to that point.
Because of that it feels like something different and new and powerful. I really liked this book, it is possibly the best thing Hillerman ever wrote.