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Death Where the Bad Rocks Live (A Spirit…

Death Where the Bad Rocks Live (A Spirit Road Mystery) (edition 2012)

by C. M. Wendelboe

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213495,208 (3.9)None
Title:Death Where the Bad Rocks Live (A Spirit Road Mystery)
Authors:C. M. Wendelboe
Info:Berkley Trade (2012), Paperback, 384 pages
Collections:Mystery, Series, Your library, 2012 Reads
Tags:Manny Tanno

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Death Where the Bad Rocks Live by C. M. Wendelboe



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Author C.M. Wendelboe tells his story with two different timelines: one present-day timeline with Manny trying to find out what happened so many years ago, and the second that follows Moses Ten Bears from the 1920s through to the 1940s. In many ways I found Moses's timeline to be the more interesting as it shows how life was on the reservation during that twenty year period, and how two families became entangled in lies, secrets, and the prejudices of the day.

Manny Tanno is a dogged investigator who has flashes of intuition-- but hopefully not when he's behind the wheel of a moving vehicle. (His lack of driving skills is legendary.) Raised by his uncle, he's only now forming a relationship with his older brother, who as an AIM (American Indian Movement) enforcer served time in prison for murder. Manny went to school and left the reservation to become the first Lakota FBI agent. He had no intentions of ever returning until he was sent back by his superiors in Washington, DC. There is a sharp division between his youth and his adulthood, and Manny suffers a bit of an identity crisis that can even be seen in his choice of music: "...polka, with its heavy beat so much like traditional powwow music, without causing Manny to commit to being a Lakota through and through."

Wendelboe's main character is backed by a strong supporting cast. Willie, the young man Manny is trying to train as the tribal investigator is having emotional problems as a result of events that took place in the first book in the series. (No, you don't have to read it to understand what's going on.) Then there's the running eBay fight for Elvis memorabilia between the reservation's CSI guy, Pee Pee, and the acting tribal chief of police, Lumpy Looks Twice. This brings much needed levity to the book. Memorable characters appear throughout the book, including Alexander Hamilton High Elk, who's been nominated for the U.S. Supreme Court, Manny's brother Reuben, and a little girl named Morissa Friend of All. My least favorite was Lumpy's niece Janet, a stereotypical makeup laden shopaholic that Lumpy put on the force in an attempt to straighten out Willie. All Janet seems to do is scream, throw up, shop, put on makeup, pout, rub against Willie, and find inventive new ways for the buttons to come undone on her shirt. Extremely tiresome!

Despite Janet, this is a strong book filled with people who are fighting for some kind of future while being grounded by their past. What they decide to do with those bad rocks of the title will have an impact on their future. Although there is a much stronger Native American element to Wendelboe's books-- obviously because most of the characters are Native American-- I find them enjoyable reading and complimentary to Craig Johnson's Walt Longmire novels. ( )
1 vote cathyskye | Aug 3, 2014 |
Lakota FBI agent Manny Tanno investigates a series of murders on a World War II bombing range in Badlands National Park.
  yellerreads | Jul 25, 2014 |
The book picks up with FBI agent Manny Tanno in the middle of the South Dakota Badlands examining three recently discovered bodies found in an old 1940's car long forgotten. The area had once been used for bombing practice in the '40s and it looks like the bodies are from back then. Initially it looks like the car wondered on the range and a bombing run killer the occupants. But one of the three bodies is obviously a recent addition to the car, apparently from the late '60s. It looks more and more like murder, and that means Manny gets the investigation of this very cold case. Manny quickly finds that he has a political powder keg since the most recent body was college roommates with the newly nominated Supreme Court Justice - Judge High Elk, who doesn't want anything standing in his way for the nomination, especially a cold case. Then more murders occur to people connected to the case.

Several chapters take you back to the 1940s as you follow Moses Ten Bears, a spiritual leader and renowned painter, through the events that lead up to his death in a car on the bombing range. Those chapters break up the flow a little bit, but it makes for an interesting look into the what made Moses so mythical for the tribe. The reader also sees Manny and tribal cop Willie Looks Twice struggle with some personal issues. Manny's childhood menace is still chief of the Tribal police, and still taunts Manny.

The characters are all nicely drawn. We get to know the tribal medical examiner Precious, nicknamed Pee Pee, whose biggest pleasure in life is outbidding the Chief for Elvis memorabilia. The Chief of Tribal Police also hires his niece as a tribal cop, who brings her own drama into the picture.

The setting is the eerie and otherworldly Badlands for most of the story. There is one particular stand-out scene where Manny is playing a deadly cat and mouse dance, in the middle of a storm, in the dark, and in the Badlands. It will stay in my memory for a while I think.

The plot takes a winding route as the investigation proceeds. It has some spots that slow a little too much, and the Chief's niece is a distracting side-story. I didn't like that particular character, and her purpose wasn't clear even upon completion. The confrontation with the killer had some tense moments while being believable.

As the second entry in the series, it is setting a high bar with intricate story telling. FBI Agent Manny Tanno makes a fine troubled hero dealing with life at 40 something as he is discovering his culture and himself.

Rating: Excellent - Loved it! Buy it now and put this author on your watch list

Series: 2nd in Spirit Road Mysteries

Main Characters: Lakota FBI Special Agent Manny Tanno

Setting: Modern day, Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota

Obtained Through: Publisher for honest review

Mysteries and My Musings Book Blog
http://www.mysterysuspence.blogspot.com ( )
1 vote AFHeart | Oct 15, 2012 |
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To those who have become ill and lost loved ones

in the place where the bad rocks live
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The faint whisper of wind grew louder in Moses Ten Bears's ears as the throp-throp-throp of a large aircraft cooking off speed neared.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0425256111, Paperback)

FBI agent Manny Tanno thought he had left his tribe and the Pine Ridge Reservation behind him years ago. But now with a cold case unearthed in the hot plains sun, he knows that the past never really goes away.

In Badlands National Park, there is a desolate area the Lakota refer to as the Stronghold. General Custer called it hell on earth. During World War II, the Army Air Corps used it as a bombing range. At the end of the war, many unexploded ordnances were swallowed up in its sweltering sands. But that’s not all that’s buried there…

Sixty-five years after the war, the Sioux tribe has contracted an ordnance removal company to defuse any remaining ammunition in the Stronghold. When the company finds a human arm near a live bomb, Tanno and the Tribal police are called to investigate. As the body is exhumed, two more are discovered. The remains are close together, but the murders were decades apart—and the story behind them is about to blow up…  

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:51 -0400)

FBI Agent Manny Tanno investigates the discovery of human limbs found on a World War II bombing range that used to be Sioux land.

(summary from another edition)

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