Long-Awaited Adaptation Of Tony Hillerman’s Mystery Novels Premieres This Week

Produced by George RR Martin and Robert Redford, “Dark Winds” puts the spotlight on indigenous talent and hopes to open more doors for Native representation on television. 

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Looking for a new detective mystery series to check out? Look no further than Dark Winds, which premieres on AMC on June 12th.

Leaphorn & Chee Detective Mystery Series

Tony Hillerman’s Leaphorn & Chee detective mystery series total a staggering twenty-five books as of this year. Most of which were published steadily throughout the 1970s and ’80s. The last seven books were completed by Tony’s daughter, Anne Hillerman, after his death in 2008. The most recent of which, The Sacred Bridge, was published just this past April.

Anne’s devout continuation of her father’s best-selling series continues to be met with rave reviews. One significant change in the long-running book series is Anne’s promotion of a third detective, Bernadette Manuelito, into the main character spotlight. The AMC adaptation will follow suit, highlighting a trio of detectives rather than just the original duo. Clearly, mystery writing runs in the Hillerman family, as the upcoming adaptation continues to have lots of great material to build a potential television franchise! 

Broadly, the novels center around a team of detectives in the Navajo Tribal Police as they investigate various crimes. The plots are distinctly infused with Native American culture and spirituality, which was the principal object of Hillerman’s vision. As with any good crime thriller series, it’s best not to give too much away so as to keep the reader at the mercy of the story and all its twists and turns. 

About Dark Winds

The new AMC series focuses mainly on book three, Listening Woman, set in 1971 in the Navajo Nation. It will be composed of six episodes and has an impressive Native-led cast. Some notable names include Zach McClarnan (Leaphorn), featured in Hulu’s hit Reservation Dogs – another outstanding TV ensemble of indigenous talent. Playing his partner is Kiowa Gordon (Chee), who many book nerds may recognize as Embry from The Twilight Saga. The supporting cast is rounded out by the likes of Elva Guerra, Eugene Brave Rock, Jessica Matten, and Rainn Wilson! The showrunner and executive producer is Vince Calandra, whose previous book-inspired projects include the likes of Castle Rock and Sharp Objects.  

Speaking of bookish tie-ins, how did the mind behind Game of Thrones wind up on this television project? It turns out that George R.R. Martin and the author, Tony Hillerman, go way back. On Martin’s blog, he mentioned that he met Tony in 1979 upon moving to New Mexico. After which, they struck up a long-lasting friendship. Click here if you’re interested in reading the rest of Martin’s related blog updates.

If you’re looking for a new crime series to keep you entertained this summer, make sure to check out AMC’s Dark Winds. While you’re at it, pick up a couple of Hillerman’s renowned novels to bulk up your summer reading list! Both the book series and upcoming television adaptation focus on providing a more realistic representation of Native American culture and community, which has finally been gaining some traction in Hollywood. In light of this exciting new television debut, Hillerman’s novels remind us to celebrate more diversity on page and screen.

Finally, click here for more bookish content in the thriller and mystery genre.