We’re kicking off 2012 in The Hard Word Book Club, our group that discusses hardboiled crime fiction and westerns, with Death Along The Spirit Road, a book the straddles both genres. The author CM Wendelboe (Curt or “Chick Magnet” to his friends) was a protege of Craig Johnson, creator of the Walt Longmire series, and shares Craig’s human and often humorous representation of American Indians. Picture a slightly less politically correct Tony Hillerman.
Death Along The Spirit Road is the first in a series featuring Lakota FBI agent Manny Tanno. Manny is sent to the place he wanted to get away from, The Pine Ridge Reservation, to solve the murder of developer Jason Red Cloud, who was killed with a war axe. Under a deadline, Manny has to deal with the chief tribal cop who was his high school rival and his brother who is a suspect. The book has incredibly well developed characters and some funny dialogue, and takes an interesting look at the notions of tribe, family, honor, and history in a place where Crazy Horse, Wounded Knee, and the arrest of Leonard Peltier still linger.
Curt will be calling in to our group discussion of the book on Wednesday, January 25th, 7p. I’ve gotten to know him through moderating a panel he was on at the Texas Festival of Books. He’s funny and very knowledgeable about law enforcement on the reservation, being a deputy near Pine Ridge.