I just saw that Tony Hillerman, one of my favorite mystery writers, has passed. Opening one of his books was like using a teleporter: You were instantly immersed in his setting, in the world he was writing about. I've heard long-time Hillerman readers who were reading different books swapping gossip about the characters, ones reading later books telling how relationships were going to develop, ones reading earlier books pointing out clues to character development the later-book reader had forgotten. I couldn't, of course, but I feel like I could find my way around the reservation without a map, just from reading Hillerman's books.
Note for fellow writers: I'm told that, when he sent his first Navaho cop book to his agent, the agent advised him to take all the Indian stuff out of it. I guess the moral is, write from your heart and your readers--and your work--will respond.