Thursday, April 24, 2008

Book notes

I've been reading a bunch of books by Tony Hillerman. They are murder mysteries set in the Reservations of New Mexico, Arizona and Colorado. The early books star a Navaho police detective named Joe Leaphorn. Later on a new character is introduced who becomes his crime-solving associate (another Navaho policeman named Jim Chee). These books are great reading. I like them both for being good murder mysteries as well as the setting in what's left of the American West.

But there's one problem. Hillerman must have done just about zero research on firearms. He seems to make at least one bad gun gaff per book. So, I recommend these books for anyone who likes murder mysteries. But be prepared to cringe and shake your head sadly at least once in every book. I might post more details about this when I have more time. Right now it will suffice to say that revolvers don't eject empties and not every gun in the world is a .38.


  1. At least by the later books in the series, he proves that he knows what a .38 is. Unlike, say Stephen King, who I swear makes his gun information up off the top of his head. I still want to know where I can buy the .44 mag Ruger semi-auto that someone in the Dark Tower series carried.

  2. Maybe he gets his gun "facts" from the mainstream media.

  3. He also has a safety on the 38 revolver.

  4. Bob: yes, I noticed that.

    In the book I just finished last night (Listening Woman) he has Leaphorn preparing for combat by drawing his 38 revolver to half cock. Why? Is half cock even possible on a double-action revolver? I don't know because I've never even thought to try it on mine.

    Another one from the same book has Leaphorn checking how many rounds he has in a semi-auto shotgun: "he opened the magazine and poured the shells into his hand." It's been a while since I used a semi-auto shotgun, but I don't remember it being that easy to remove unused shells.

    In another book the bad guy has either been discriminating enough to use a relatively rare .38 semi-auto pistol, or he was stupid enough to open his revolver, remove the two spent shells and drop them on the ground.