In the three years that passed between the account of Leaphorn and Chee working on the Ashie Pinto case in Coyote Waits (1990) and the reappearance of the detectives in Sacred Clowns (1993), Tony Hillerman made some interesting changes in his fictional project. In the first of the changes, he has assigned Chee to work with Leaphorn in the Special Investigations Office of the Navajo Tribal Police (7–8). For all we know, Hillerman may have discovered that the specialization in law enforcement characteristic of larger police forces has influenced the organization of the Law and Order Division of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Then, again, perhaps he took the model for the special office from crime fiction itself, where detectives are commonly assigned to the homicide squad, the vice squad, and so on. Regardless of how he came up with the idea, Hillerman’s creation of the new two-man unit for the Navajo Tribal Police underscores the premise of Sacred Clowns as a police procedural narrative. In previous novels, the detectives evidently took up particular cases because the crimes occurred near their regional offices, or because Captain Largo assigned the cases. Now, however, a special unit seems to be justified for particularly challenging cases, and, naturally, the crack detectives on the force are to be given those puzzles requiring their exceptional skill in detective investigation.
The creation of a unique Special Investigations Office demands cooperation and a degree of intimacy between Leaphorn and Chee that the