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Thursday, December 12, 2013

Review - Death on the Greasy Grass

I have been following this series since the beginning.  I have reviews for book two "Death Where the Bad Rocks Live" (click here) and book one "Death Along the Spirit Road" (click here.)  This time we travel to Montana for parts of the story that brings old enemies, Lakota Sioux and Crow, together again. 

Author: C.M. Wendelboe

Copyright: June 2013 (Berkley Publishing) 384 pgs

Series: 3rd in Manny Tanno Mystery series

Sensuality: mild adult references

Mystery Sub-genre: police procedural

Main Characters: Manny Tanno, FBI agent

Setting: Modern day, Crow and Lakota reservations

Obtained Through: Publisher for honest review

Manny and tribal-cop buddy Willie are on vacation and Manny insists on going to the re-enactment of The Battle of the Little Big Horn - known as Custer's Last Stand (or The Battle of Greasy Grass Creek.)  One of the re-enactors is killed with real bullets during the battle and the FBI ends up assigning Manny to investigate what looks like a cold blooded murder.  A secondary storyline unfolds with sections told in the past following Custer's Crow scout, Levi Star Dancer, who kept a journal of some shady moves during the Battle of the Little Big Horn that could be damaging to the living descendants.

Manny is middle-aged, a little overweight, recently diagnosed with diabetes, continually battling with his cigarette cravings, and is also a long-time bachelor now engaged and nervous about marrying.  In this outing, Manny faces tragedy and has to overcome a lot emotionally to solve the case and come out alive.  Willie's character is funny and bittersweet in this book, his character becoming further entrenched in the reader's hearts and minds with each book.  Stumper is a Crow agency cop helping Manny and Willie with the case.  He isn't very experienced and Manny does plenty of on-the-job training with him.  Manny's brother Reuben plays an active role in some key scenes.  Reuben's scenes are some of my favorites, since this character is like a treasure slowly doled out.  Levi Star Dancer from the 1876 sections is a simple man whose emotions run deep as he writes of events that he feels must be recorded for future generations.  I think he is the surprise standout character in this book.

The setting is split between the Crow reservation in Montana and the South Dakota reservations that both subtly envelope the reader and transport you. This is just one of the strengths of the author, in evoking the atmosphere and emotions of the land intertwined with the people.  The plot begins with the simple premise that Levi Star Dancer's journal is at the center of murder, but as the story progresses there is much more at stake than Levi's recorded thoughts and their modern fall-out.  The twists and revelations keep the pace going strong.   

The climax is another heart racing scene that packs tension and action.  The wrap-up of the story ties a bow on the adventure, wrapping everything up and makes you want the next book now so you don't miss a moment with the characters. 

This series has set a high standard and thus far continues to deliver nuanced, exciting, and compelling story-telling. 

Rating:  Near Perfect - Buy two copies: one for you and one for a friend. 

If it is cold and snowing where you are, stay warm my friends.

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