Murder on the Red River

By: Marcie R. Rendon
Author Marcie Rendon was the recipient of the 2020 McKnight Distinguished Artist award

A murdered man in a field. The sheriff calls on Cash—an almost-twenty-something tough, smart Indian woman with special seeing powers.



A murdered man in a field. The sheriff calls on Cash—an almost-twenty-something tough, smart Indian woman with special seeing powers.

Cash and Sheriff Wheaton make for a strange partnership. He pulled her from her mother's wrecked car when she was three. He's kept an eye out for her ever since. It's a tough place to live—that part of the world where the Red River divides Minnesota and North Dakota.Cash navigated through foster homes, and at 13 was working farms. She's tough as nails—barely over five feet, jeans and jean jacket, smokes Marlboros, drinks Bud Longnecks. Makes her living driving truck. Playing pool on the side. Wheaton is a big lawman type. Scandinavian stock, but darker skin than most. Something else in there? Cash hasn't ever asked. He wants her to take hold of her life. Get into junior college.

So there they are, staring at the dead Indian lying in the field. Soon Cash was dreaming the dead man's HUD house on the Red Lake Reservation, mother and kids waiting. She has that kind of knowing. That's the place to start looking. There's a long and dangerous way to go to find the men who killed him. Plus there's Jim, the married white guy. And Long Braids, the Indian guy headed for Minneapolis to join the American Indian Movement.

Marcie R. Rendon is an enrolled member of the White Earth Anishinabe Nation. She is a mother, grandmother, writer, and sometimes performance artist. A former recipient of the LoftÍs Inroads Writers of Color Award for Native Americans, she studied poetry under Anishinabe author Jim Northrup. Her first childrenÍs book, Pow Wow Summer was reprinted by the Minnesota Historical Society Press in 2014. Murder on the Red River is her first mystery.

Awards and Accomodations

2018 Pinckley Prize for Crime Fiction

12 reviews for Murder on the Red River

  1. Los Angeles Review of Books
    Marcie Rendon, a member of the White Earth Anishinabe Nation, masterfully weaves two stories in a seamless, vivid narrative.

  2. Kirkus Reviews
    A wild child uneasily transplanted from the White Earth Reservation to a rented house in Fargo meets murder.Though she needs a bogus ID to get served at the bars where she shoots a mean game of pool, Cash, nee Renee Blackbear, 19, already has a lot of miles on her.

  3. Publishers Weekly
    Feisty, sensitive, and smart.

  4. Minneapolis Star Tribune
    This accomplished author has clearly undertaken more than a murder story … she finds new depth and an ample storytelling platform for her informed views on the historic persecution of Indians.

  5. Twin Cities Pioneer Press
    [Marcie] Rendon delves deep into the history of Native American communities and the danger of forcing assimilation on a community outside the mainstream of American cultural norms.

  6. Jeff Berglund, Ph.D., Director of Liberal Studies, Nortnern Arizona Univeristy
    Marcie Rendon’s portrait of a Native woman detective is vibrant and rooted in the complexities of history and a place haunted by a violent past that refuses to loosen its grip.

  7. Lisa Sandlin, author of Dashiell Hammett award-winning The Do-Right
    Marcie Rendon’s debut, Murder on Red River, features the magnetic Cash: aged-out foster child, girl pool shark, truck driver from Minnesota’s White Earth reservation. When a native man from nearby Red Lake is knifed, her cop friend Wheaton, a Longmire-type, enlists her help. Cash’s search takes her through her own hardscrabble memories of family and land sorrowfully lost—a journey that Rendon writes of with flat-out authority.

  8. Debbie Reese
    [A] searing, soaring, and ultimately unflinching story of how Native people persevere in the face of policies and people that seek to destroy the essence of who they are.

  9. David Beaulieu, Ph.D., Professor of American Indian Education, University of Minnesota, Duluth. Enrolled White Earth Ojibwe
    Cash’s life experiences emerge as both landscape and resource to an investigation that engages the reader to the end.

  10. Gwen Danfelt, Drury Lane Books
    What kept me reading was getting to know Cash under her tough exterior, watching her come to terms with her harrowing, unjust past in white foster homes and fight to stop the next generation of Indian kids from suffering the same fate. Rendon’s descriptions capture the rural layout of the Midwest in the 1970’s, expanses of farms and nothingness between small towns populated with churches and bars, and the persistent smell of wheat and earth. Not so much has changed in rural culture today.

  11. Kathryn Swanson, Augsburg College
    This first novel by Marcie Rendon is remarkable.

  12. Buzzfeed
    Part of the Anishinaabe writer Rendon’s Cash Blackbear series, Murder on the Red River is a novel about sugar beet truck driver, pool hustler, and all-around cool AF bad girl Cash. While enmeshed in an affair with a married man she knows is going nowhere, and worried that her life, too, might be going nowhere, she realizes that she has a strong instinct and nearly preternatural ability when it comes to solving crimes. Funny, unflinching, and almost noir in tone, this book is a winner for those with a taste for classic detective fiction with a deeply modern flair. —Erika T. Wurth

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