ANTHONY AWARD WINNER FOR BEST FIRST NOVEL
THRILLER AWARD WINNER FOR BEST FIRST NOVEL
EDGAR AWARD NOMINEE FOR BEST FIRST NOVEL
“Winter Counts is a marvel. It’s a thriller with a beating heart and jagged teeth.” —Tommy Orange, author of There There
A Best Book of 2020: NPR * Publishers Weekly * Library Journal * CrimeReads * Goodreads * Sun Sentinel * SheReads * MysteryPeople
A groundbreaking thriller about a vigilante on a Native American reservation who embarks on a dangerous mission to track down the source of a heroin influx.
Virgil Wounded Horse is the local enforcer on the Rosebud Indian 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 into the reservation and finds Virgil’s nephew, his vigilantism suddenly becomes personal. He enlists the help of his ex-girlfriend and sets out to learn where the drugs are coming from, and how to make them stop.
They follow a lead to Denver and 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. He realizes that 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.
Winner, Spur Awards for Best Contemporary Novel and Best First Novel * Winner, Lefty Award for Best Debut Mystery Novel * Shortlisted, Best First Novel, Bouchercon Anthony Awards * Shortlisted, Best First Novel, International Thriller Writers * Shortlisted, Dashiell Hammett Prize for Literary Excellence in Crime Writing, International Association of Crime Writers * Longlisted, VCU Cabell First Novel Award * Shortlisted, Barry Award for Best First Novel * Shortlisted, Reading the West Award * Shortlisted, Colorado Book Award (Thriller)
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
David Heska Wanbli Weiden’s debut thriller introduces us to an awesome new antihero. Virgil Wounded Horse, a member of the Lakota Nation, lives on a South Dakota reservation and grinds out a living as a small-time enforcer, stepping in when local authorities ignore violent crime on the rez. When Virgil’s latest case tracking a local drug dealer gets personal, he must seek help from figures on both sides of the law—none of whom he can really trust. We were instant fans of the tough but scrupulously ethical Virgil, who is well aware that he’s neither a good guy nor a bad guy. Weiden paints a vivid portrait of contemporary Lakota life, with all the pride and struggle that come with it. This striking background color makes Winter Counts and its slam-bang conclusion hit even harder.
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.
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This book was fast paced, thought provoking and unstoppable: I couldn’t put it down