In Talking Mysteries, Tony Hillerman discusses his craft, including his approach to plot, characterization, and setting, and the wrinkles and twists that make his brand of fiction unique. These and other insights into how he writes emerge in an extended interview with his long-time friend and fellow author Ernie Bulow. An autobiographical piece by Hillerman details his early years in Oklahoma, first encounters with Navajo culture, and his eventual life as journalist and author.
Navajo artist Ernest Franklin created twelve sketches of Hillerman characters for this book. Hillerman credits Franklin with "showing me what Jim Chee and Joe Leaphorn look like." As an additional treat, a Jim Chee mini-mystery, "The Witch, Yazzie, and the Nine of Clubs," originally published in 1981 and long unavailable, is included.