WINNER OF THE ANTHONY, BARRY, THRILLER, LEFTY AND MACAVITY AWARDS FOR BEST FIRST NOVEL
‘Harrowing and heartfelt, assured and highly accomplished. One of the standout thrillers of the year' CHRIS WHITAKER
If you have a problem, if no one else can help, there’s one person you can turn to.
Virgil Wounded Horse is the local enforcer on the Rosebud Native American Reservation in South Dakota. When justice is denied by the American legal system or the tribal council, Virgil is hired to deliver his own punishment, the kind that’s hard to forget. But when heroin makes its way onto the reservation and finds Virgil’s nephew, his vigilantism becomes personal. Enlisting the help of his ex-girlfriend, he sets out to learn where the drugs are coming from, and how to make them stop.
Following a lead to Denver, they find that drug cartels are rapidly expanding and forming new and terrifying alliances. And back on the reservation, a new tribal council initiative raises uncomfortable questions about money and power. As Virgil starts to link the pieces together, he must face his own demons and reclaim his Native identity - but being a Native American in the twenty-first century comes at an incredible cost.
Winter Counts is a tour-de-force of crime fiction, a bracingly honest look at a long-ignored part of American life, and a twisting, turning story that’s as deeply rendered as it is thrilling.
'An incredible novel . . . where hope and heartbreak are found in equal measure' S. A. COSBY
'A terrific debut – tight and tense, hard-eyed and big-hearted' LOU BERNEY
'I've been waiting most of my life for this book . . . a knowing, authentic, closely observed novel about modern-day Lakotas that rings absolutely true . . . It's a hell of a debut' C. J. BOX
'A blistering and powerful read, a thriller with real heart’ DOUG JOHNSTONE
'Eye-opening, enlightening and entertaining, it's one hell of a good read!' AMER ANWAR
'A powerful, brutal and moving novel . . . A superb read!' ROD REYNOLDS
'Winter Counts is one of those novels that simply swallow you up in its grasp. It grabbed me from page one and never let go with a wonderfully conflicted and passionate main character in Virgil Wounded Horse. Superb!'JAMES DELARGY
Virgil Wounded Horse, the half Lakota, half white narrator of Weiden's gorgeous debut, serves as a fists-for-hire enforcer on South Dakota's Rosebud Indian Reservation. Ever since Virgil's sister died in a car accident three years earlier, her son, Nathan, has been living with him. Back when Virgil was an alcoholic, his erratic behavior drove away the love of his life, Marie Short Bear, but now he's sober, and after Nathan ends up in the hospital from an overdose of heroin, Marie returns to help Virgil take on the bad guys responsible for bringing heroin to the reservation. To complicate matters, Marie faces a decision about medical school in New Mexico, right as she and Virgil are falling back in love. The novel twists delicately around various personal conflicts while artfully addressing issues related to the politics of the reservation. Weiden combines funny, complex, and unforgettable characters with strong, poetic prose ("This was the winter of my sorrow, one I had tried to elude but which had come for me with a terrible cruelty"). This is crime fiction at its best.