The Sinister Pig
|Published||2003 - present|
|Media type||Print (hardcover and paperback)|
|Preceded by||The Wailing Wind, 2002|
|Followed by||Skeleton Man, 2004|
An unidentified corpse discovered at the edge of the Jicarilla Apache natural gas field in the San Juan Basin involves Navajo Tribal Police Sergeant Jim Chee in a mystery involving diverted oil and gas revenues, abandoned pipelines, Washington D.C. insiders, and illegal drugs.
Assigned to patrol the basin and range topography of the rugged Animas Mountains of Hidalgo County in the extreme southwestern corner of New Mexico, U.S. Border Patrol Officer Bernadette Manuelito photographs a suspicious construction crew on the Tuttle exotic game ranch.
After a complaint about her activities by ranch personnel, Manuelito's supervisor advises her that the Border Patrol has a special arrangement with the ranch whereby ranch personnel monitor the border and provide tips to the Border Patrol. In return, the Border Patrol does not patrol the ranch. New to the Border Patrol service, Officer Manuelito accepts this explanation until she learns that a photograph of her, taken by her supervisor, has been distributed to the criminal element across the border in Mexico.
Officer Manuelito shares her concerns with her former Navajo Tribal Police supervisor Jim Chee and retired Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn who are then able to make a connection between the unidentified corpse and the activities Manuelito has observed in Hidalgo County.
In addition to Chee and Leaphorn, returning series characters include:
- Bernadette Manuelito, now a U.S. Border Patrol (Customs) agent after having resigned from the Navajo Tribal Police
- Cowboy Dashee, now a Bureau of Land Management security officer
- Captain Largo, Chee's superior officer
- Professor Louisa Bourbonnette, Leaphorn's friend and sometimes housemate
- Special Agent "Oz" Osborne, FBI
Characters new to the series include:
- "Budge" C de Baca, Rawley Winsor's chauffeur and private pilot
- Carl Mankin, alias of a retired CIA Agent investigating the alleged revenue misappropriations
- Diego de Vargas, a colonel in the Mexican military
- Ed Henry, Officer Manuelito's superior officer in the U.S. Border Patrol
- Eleanda Garza, Border Patrol agent, housemate of Officer Manuelito, and member of the Tohono O'odham Nation
- Mary Goddard, reporter for a national news magazine
- Rawley Winsor, a Washington D.C. power broker
Natural, Cultural & Historical References
Geographic, botanical, animal, historical, and cultural artifacts and events often play key roles in the Chee/Leaphorn series - either as direct plot elements, to explain character motivations or perspectives, or to illustrate cultural or religious beliefs and practices. Although less true here than for many other novels in the series, such references in The Sinister Pig include:
- ANIMAL: Scimitar oryx (exotic game animal raised on the Tuttle Ranch)
- GEOGRAPHICAL: See Plot Summary
- HISTORICAL: Guatemalan Civil War (motivation for de Baca); Institutional Revolutionary Party (historic basis for de Vargas military association); Phelps Dodge mining and minerals company (historic basis for mines and smelters in southern New Mexico and Arizona); Cobell v. Kempthorne (class-action lawsuit involving claims that the U.S. government incorrectly accounted for Indian trust assets)
- New York Times best-seller listing for June 8, 2003
- Tony Hillerman: A Critical Companion by John M. Reilly
- Talking Mysteries: A Conversation with Tony Hillerman By Tony Hillerman and Ernie Bulow
- Seldom Disappointed: A Memoir by Tony Hillerman
- Tony Hillerman's Navajoland by Laurance D. Lindford and Tony Hillerman