Here’s a good post at Black Gate about Tony Hillerman’s mystery-writing career.
I read this whole series when I actually had access to a library and was working my way through it. I didn’t read them in order of publication — they weren’t shelved in order, as I recall, and I just went down the shelf. I don’t mind jumping back and forth in a long mystery series, usually, and I think these can be read in any order, probably.
As always with mysteries, I read ’em for character and setting, both of which are really well done. I felt at the time that Hillerman had to be getting the Navajo pretty much right — his characters and setting *felt* right to me. Now I can see why, considering Hillerman’s background.
The most amazing detail: Hillerman apparently found that outlining didn’t work for him. He wrote mysteries without outlines. Honestly, of all genres in the world, I would have thought that mysteries required outlines. Huh. I guess you can write anything by the seat of your pants if you have to.