Friday, January 7, 2011

Death Along the Spirit Road -C.M. Wendelboe

Death Along the Spirit Road
C.M. Wendelboe
Berkley, Mar 1 2011, $14.00
ISBN 9780425240021

A killer buries a war club into the head of developer Jason Red Cloud, who had the financial backing to build a resort on the Pine Ridge Reservation near the site of Wounded Knee, South Dakota. FBI Academy instructor Manny Tanno is assigned to investigate though he prefers not to do field work anymore.

A former Oglala Sioux tribal cop, the special agent finds he is unwelcome by the older tribe who never forgot the FBI infiltration in the 1970s American Indian Movement; even some of the younger ones who learned of AIM refuse to cooperate with Tanno. He also has problems with the acting chief Leon "Lumpy" Looks Twice who prefers the “outsider” go back to teaching and from the dead victim whose spirit apparently haunts Tanno’s dreams demanding justice. However, the biggest problem confronting Tanno is a conflict of interest when his brother Reuben becomes a viable suspect.

This Native American police procedural is a strong whodunit because of the powerful backdrop in which Tanno investigates. Readers will observe the poverty on Pine Ridge and the division still haunting the present from the AIM era though over three decades have passed. With the Wounded Knee National Historic Landmark serving as an anchor between the late nineteenth century past and the present, readers will appreciate Tanno’s efforts to solve the homicide with no local cooperation; in fact many prefer he joins Red Cloud in the spirit world.

Harriet Klausner

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