Death Along the Spirit Road

First in the Spirit Road Mystery series!

Eighteen years ago, FBI agent Manny Tanno thought he was leaving the impoverished Pine Ridge Reservation for good. Now a case forces him to return, digging up memories of his proud Sioux ancestry—and some family he’d rather forget…


The body of local Native land developer Jason Red Cloud is found on the site of his new resort near Pine Ridge Village. A war club is lodged in his skull, and there are clues that suggest a ritual may have been performed at the crime scene. Agent Tanno’s boss orders him to return to the reservation, his former home, and solve the murder in two weeks-or he can kiss his job goodbye.

Manny arrives in Pine Ridge to find that some things haven’t changed since he left. His former rival, now in charge of the tribal police, is just as bitter as ever, and he has no intention of making Manny’s life easy. And the spirit of Red Cloud haunting Manny’s dreams is not much help either. Now Manny is on his own in hunting down a cold-blooded killer—and one misstep could send him down the Spirit Road next…

Based on 129 Reviews
Happy in the Sunshine
August 19, 2022

Hooked me from the start

I was hooked from the start! FBI Special Agent Manny Tanno is sent to the Pine Ridge Reservation to investigate the death of Jason Red Cloud. Reluctant, he has avoided his homeland for 18 years until his boss, Niles, forces his hand. Agent Tanno, formerly an Oglala Sioux tribal cop, has to conduct the inquiry with rival colleague Lumpy who’s jealous of the “living legend.” It’s not easy. Family members with a complicated history and tribal members distrustful of federal authorities make the investigation all that more challenging. This book has plenty of action, and Wendelboe’s intimate knowledge of the landscape and crime investigation reflects his experience in federal and tribal law enforcement. The writing style is crisp, loops you in, and keeps you wanting to read. I also enjoyed the references to the Lakota language and culture, perhaps learning a bit more of the struggles of those living on these native lands. Highly recommend.

May 2, 2019

Great Book!

There was incredible depth to the main character. Manny is honorable and brave This book is a good mystery with lots of humor on the side. I appreciated learning about Pine Ridge Reservation and the plight of many living there.

May 20, 2015

The first novel in a new series featuring FBI agent …

The first novel in a new series featuring FBI agent Manny Tanno, a native american returning to a reservation of his youth. This excekkent book has overtones of Tony Hillerman and Craig Johnson and brings Lokota history and the Pine Ridge Reservation to life.

E. Foster
January 12, 2014

Great Suspense in Lakota culture

C. M. Wendelboe writes an engaging tale of murder and suspense. He captures well Lakota culture – the traditions, the humor, the pain, and the spirituality. His main characters have depth and interesting interplay that are also a part of the main story and how it is resolved. These are three dimensional persons who have their personal challenges to deal with as they work toward solving a crime. While their humanity is evident, it is not a liability but rather an asset in developing empathy with them. If you have read any enjoyed the writing of the late Tony Hillerman and his series of mysteries with Jim Chee of the Navajo nation, you will find Wendelboe’s work a welcome cousin to that genre of literature.

Black Belt Granny
December 19, 2012

Took me back to South Dakota and a wonderful time!

When I found this author I had just returned from a fantastic family reunion in Custer, South Dakota which is close to where most of the action in this mystery takes place. I could see everything in my mind’s eye. I especially enjoyed the realism of modern Rez life and the day to day realities of the poorest tribe in the US. The description of the Hotel Alex Johnson was great, because at the reunion, we’d just had our fourth grandchild, whose name is Alex Johnson, and had joked about that opulent historic building being named for him! I also felt Wendleboe’s characters and situations were well crafted and very realistic, with a touch of humor too. Good mysteries, I will buy more!

Kindle Customer
December 7, 2012

First of Two

I’ve chosen other native american books to read but there was always something missing. This and the sister book, "Death Where the Bad Rocks Live" has all the right stuf! It seems to really speak native american. You can certainly tell it is written from a man’s perspective of life as well. I can hardly wait for another story.

July 22, 2011

Fun Thriller

As a student of literature, this book does not rank as the most beautiful piece I have ever read in a literary sense. That said, it was a fun and quick read. I enjoyed it to the point that it took me less than 24 hours from start to finish to read the whole thing. I felt the main characters were well developed and you knew just enough about the minor characters to keep you interested, but you didn’t have to have their whole life story added to the mix. It might also help that I’m from the WY/SD area and so it was easy for me to picture the setting. I’m interested to see where the next book in the series goes and will gladly pick up a copy when it comes out. I have to agree with one review that said it was pretty easy to identify the “villain” early on, but I also agree with another that said this is the author’s first book and it can only get better. If you enjoy thriller novels, even ones that are predictable, then you will enjoy this book. I know I did; I have a weakness for thrillers.

Melanie Shurtz
April 24, 2011

Great Read

This is a great book. I have always been cautioned against reading books that people I know have written in case I don’t like it, it will cause awkwardness. This was not the case with this book. I thoroughly enjoyed it. It reminds me of Michael McGarrity or Craig Johnson but I like the style and language more. For me this was not a mystery that I had figured out too close to the beginning. I had some suspicions as I was reading but they weren’t confirmed until the end. There were also many clues I did not pick up on. I also appreciate the lack of vulgar language. Too many books today are having every other word one that is offensive. I am also pleased that it is in Kindle format already. I was disappointed when I found out that it was published because I am living overseas for a period of time and thought I would have to wait forever to read it. I was very pleased to be able to get it on my Kindle and read it. It was also great to read about places I am familiar with back home, so that when I read this book I felt like I was back there. I am going to recommend it to other family and friends back home. I look forward to more of Curt’s books.

March 30, 2011

Great book

I thought this was a great book. The action started quickly and kept going until the end of the book. The book was a fast read with such an active plot that kept the reader guessing. The character Manny Tanno was comical and easy to relate to, like he was someone you knew. Great book, can’t wait to read the next one!

Just Like the Pine Ridge I Remember

Curt Wendelboe perfectly captures the Pin Ridge Reservation I remember from two visits–1959 and 1991. Nothing appeared to have changed between those visits, but I remember the AIM occupation and the ambush of the two FBI agents. Wendelboe paints such a vivid picture of the rez that even those who haven’t been there will be transported to what seems like an alien world. But the cast is anything but alien. We can identify with dogged agent Manny Tanno, his young eager protege, Willie With Horn, and a slew of modern Lakota, from lawmen and jailbirds to sirens and sophisticated, educated women. The plot is appropriately complex and we’re never sure which crimes are linked to which and I was constantly ruling out suspects and revising my ideas. The ending was particularly appropriate to a first novel in a series. But the author doesn’t write like a first-timer. In the best tradition of Tony Hillerman and Margaret Coel, Wendelboe has selected a reservation with ancient tradtions and modern aspirations and made us all feel at home there. I look forward to the next adventure.

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