COYOTE WAITS: An American Mystery! Special (2003)

Director: Jan Egleson
Teleplay written by Lloyd "Lucky" Gold
Novel written by Tony Hillerman

Starring: Wes Studi and Adam Beach

Genre: Mystery (available in VHS and DVD formats)

Reviewed by Judith Fox

SYNOPSIS: Two Navajo tribal policemen unravel a complex plot involving an historical find, a lost fortune, and a mythical coyote.

The title, "Coyote Waits," is taken from a traditional Navajo proverb: "Coyote is always out there waiting, and Coyote is always hungry." The novel COYOTE WAITS from which this film is taken was written by Tony Hillerman. Mr. Hillerman is a master at storytelling.

The complex plot kept my attention through the two hours I saw it on PBS. I love the country where it was filmed since I first saw it ten years ago.

When I watched "Coyote Waits" on television, I was thrilled. It was like going back to New Mexico, where this Southwest mystery who-dun-it takes place.

Greed and love which have been around forever are the reasons for murder in "Coyote Waits." It starts simply with a Navajo Police Patrolman, Jim Chee (Adam Beach) and his journey to find out who killed his best friend, also a policeman. He feels responsible for his friendís death and must find closure.

As the story unfolds, we follow Jim as he digs up more clues and suspects. Another fellow Navajo police officer Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn (Wes Studi) has a wife he loves dearly, who asks him to join the search for the killer.

Itís like knocking over a row of dominos. At the end everything falls into place, with answers and explanations.

The Navajosí belief in nature and love is stronger than any greed. The beauty of Northern New Mexico is stunning and adds to the flavor of the plot. This country to me is ageless, like the story of the emotions of men.

All the characters are portrayed vividly and yet not forcefully. They are real and human to a fault.

The coyote is there, as though he might be waiting for justice out of all the tragedy.

I recommend "Coyote Waits." Itís a treat to see a great American mystery.

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