I woke to some sad news this morning- Tony Hillerman had died on Sunday, October 26, 2008 at age 83.
Hillerman's name was synonymous with fiction of the American Southwest. For many of us, his were the first mystery novels we'd read which were set in this beautiful, wild, and yes, mysterious place. In fact, if it hadn't been for Hillerman, I probably wouldn't have picked up other authors who wrote about the same general geographic area- Van Gieson, McGarrity, Jance, and Ault, just to name a few. I'd even be willing to bet that these authors would acknowledge a debt to Tony Hillerman for creating a readership in southwestern mysteries.
When you find an author who does just one of three things, 1) creates fascinating, complex characters, 2) tells a great story, and 3) writes beautifully, you read everything they write. When you find an author that can combine two of those traits, you read, relish, and read it again. When you find an author that does all three, well, you know you have found one of those rare jewels. There can't be enough books written to satisfy your cravings for more.
Hillerman did all three, every time, in every book.
That's why I always wanted more.
I think wanting more is one of the highest compliments you can pay an author.
So, Tony, I raise my glass to you and say, "I'll always want more, but, I'm extremely grateful for what I got. Thank you and Godspeed."