For me, the best writers are not necessarily those who make profound statements about the nature of life. I've lived long enough to forgo any instruction on the topic. The most enjoyable writers are those who create a microcosm, their own small world in addition to vibrant characters.
Tony Hillerman was just such an author. It was Hillerman who introduced me to the Four Corners region in the Southwest. What little I know of Navajo customs, crafts, and politics, I learned from his mysteries. Over the years, I have followed the career of his Joe Leaphorn through his wife's illness and death, through retirement, and any number of solved cases; as I have followed Jim Chee, a young man wrestling with his identity, torn between his heritage and the modern world.
Invariably Hillerman's books were well-plotted; his characters rich; and his setting, alive. If you like mysteries and haven't read one, treat yourself one Friday afternoon. As for me, I have lost some friends. Rest in Peace.