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"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 own 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 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 21st 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."
“Winter Counts is a marvel. It’s a thriller with a beating heart and jagged teeth. This book is a brilliant meditation on power and violence, and a testament to just how much a crime novel can achieve. Weiden is a powerful new voice. I couldn’t put it down.”
-Tommy Orange, author of There There
"Winter Counts is both a propulsive crime novel and a wonderfully informative book. David Heska Wanbli Weiden has written the first of what I hope is a series of books about life on Rosebud Reservation. Virgil Wounded Horse, his nephew Nathan, and Marie Short Bear are more than characters; they brim with intrigue and authentic life."
-Louise Erdrich, author of The Night Watchman
“The full-throttle, can’t-put-it-downness of this novel is a fact. Winter Counts is a hell of a gripping debut, perfectly plotted; David Heska Wanbli Weiden is a major new voice in crime fiction, indigenous fiction, and American literature.”
-Benjamin Percy, author of Suicide Woods and Red Moon
“A tale of drugs and violence on the Rosebud Reservation is also a celebration of reviving Lakota traditions. . . A knowing, revealing look at life on a reservation. . . The spirit, joy, pride and resilience of Native people also comes through these pages: respect for elders, the hunger for education and meaningful work, a growing interest in Lakota language, customs and traditions.”
-Minneapolis Star Tribune
“I’ve been waiting most of my life for this book without realizing it. Winter Counts is a knowing, authentic, closely observed novel about modern-day Lakotas that rings absolutely true, warts and all. The sense of place is breathtaking and raw. It’s a hell of a debut.”
-C.J. Box, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Long Range
"Winter Counts is a once-in-a-generation thriller, an unforgettable debut set in and around South Dakota’s Rosebud Indian Reservation that brims with complex characters, believable conflicts and an urgent message about Native culture, inequities and criminal justice. . . . Propulsive.”
-Los Angeles Times
"Sizzling. . . . In the grand tradition of trouble-seeking, down-at-the-heels private eyes with strong moral codes, Virgil must confront many obstacles at once. . . . Weiden is from a branch of the Lakota tribe himself, and his book relies on deep research into its history and traditions. Winter Counts is written with a light touch and a good deal of humor."
David Heska Wanbli Weiden, an enrolled member of the Sicangu Lakota nation, received his MFA in Creative Writing from the Institute of American Indian Arts, his law degree from the University of Denver Sturm College of Law, and his Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin. He’s an alumnus of VONA, a Tin House Scholar, a MacDowell Fellow, a Ragdale Foundation resident, and received the PEN/America Writing for Justice Fellowship. He’s an active member of the Mystery Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, Western Writers of America, and the Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers. He’s Professor of Native American Studies and Political Science at Metropolitan State University of Denver, and lives in Colorado with his two sons.