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Winter Counts by David Heska Wanbli Weiden

Winter Counts

We love supporting debut authors. Congrats, David Heska Wanbli Weiden, on your first book!

by David Heska Wanbli Weiden

Quick take

Follow a twisty path of vigilantism in this gritty crime novel set on a Native American reservation.

Good to know

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_FastRead

    Fast read

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_FamilyDrama

    Family drama

  • Illustrated icon, Icons_Rural_update


  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Murder


Why I love it

S.A. Cosby
Author, Blacktop Wasteland

You know that moment after cracking open a new book when you realize the book you’re reading is special? That there is something utterly unique and transformative about the story? It can be the first line, or a paragraph in the middle, or maybe even the very last line. Well in Winter Counts, there were countless of these moments—moments when I realized I was in the hands of a master storyteller, and that I was in for an experience unlike any I’d had before.

The novel follows Virgil Wounded Horse, a vigilante-for-hire who takes justice into his own hands when his nephew Nathan is framed for drug possession. But when his investigation takes him beyond the reservation’s borders, he realizes his mission is more complex than he could’ve imagined. Aided by an unlikely partner—his ex-girlfriend—and driven by a desire to save his own family, Virgil embarks on a dangerous journey to stop the influx of drugs.

Winter Counts is raw and uncompromising. It’s also rooted in current events, complete with a note from the author, an enrolled member of the Sicangu Lakota nation, on how he approached the writing of this book. Ultimately, Winter Counts is a hopeful story. It’s a hard-earned hope, but that is why it’s precious, and that is why I love this book.

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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 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.

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Get an early look from the first pages of Winter Counts.

Member thoughts

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8627 ratings
  • 37% Love
  • 52% Like
  • 9% Dislike
    • The Last Thing He Told Me
    • The Woman in the Window
    • The Push
    • The Hunting Party
    • The Wife Upstairs
    • The Silent Patient
    • Goodnight Beautiful
    • Winter Counts
    • Too Good to Be True
    • The Hunting Wives
    • The Maidens
    • The Damage
    • Pretty Little Wife
    • The Guest List
    • Invisible Girl
    • Girl A
    • Behind Her Eyes
    • The Girl in the Mirror
    • The Night Swim
    • Before She Knew Him
    • Then She Was Gone
    • You Are Not Alone
    • Sharp Objects
    • The Family Upstairs
    • The Wife Between Us
    • Into the Water
    • Gone Girl
    • November Road
    • The Night Charter
    • Dark Places
    • The Alienist
    • Since We Fell
    • The Blinds
    • Cross Her Heart
    • The Winter Sister
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