Winter Counts

Ecco: HarperCollins. Aug. 2020. 336p. ISBN 9780062968944. $27.99. THRILLER
DEBUT A Native American vigilante-for-hire takes his most personal assignment in this debut. When the American justice system fails, a distressingly common occurrence on the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota, Virgil Wounded Horse is the guy you call to mete out punishment on his own terms—even if you’re a tribal councilman looking to get heroin off your reservation. No sooner does Virgil begin to track down who’s smuggling the drugs and eliminate the problem (with the help of ex-girlfriend Marie, the councilman’s daughter), when he suddenly faces a more immediate problem: his nephew Nathan has been caught with enough prescription pills in his school locker that he could receive 30 years in prison. As he works to hunt down the drug dealers and prove Nathan’s innocence, Virgil must reconcile his actions with his rogue nature and natural suspicion of working with a police force that hasn’t had his tribe’s interests at heart; while Marie pushes him to embrace the spiritual side of his Lakota heritage.
VERDICT Weiden’s series launch sheds much-needed light on the legal and societal barriers facing Native Americans while also delivering a suspenseful thriller that builds to a bloody climax. A worthy addition to the burgeoning canon of indigenous literature. [See Prepub Alert, 1/29/20.]
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