Book Review: ‘Winter Counts’ Weaves An Interesting Tale

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.

‘Winter Counts’ is a very simple, well-told story of a young man, Virgil Wounded Horse, a mentor of the Lakota people who is also an enforcer. The Justice System is not very good and it turns out that there are times where justice needs a hand and Virgil is the man to see that things get sorted out. When Nathan, Virgil’s nephew, is found unconscious from a drug overdose, he is determined to stop the drug cartels’ flow of heroin onto his reservation.

Things become complicated when Nathan’s locker is opened in school and a cache of pills is discovered. This spells bad news for Nathan as drugs on campus is a big no-no. When schools are involved the feds are brought in. Maria, Nathan’s ex-girlfriend, hears about the raid on Nathan’s locker and wants to help the investigation. As the situation evolves, things become dangerous for Nathan who is set up with a wire in order to trap the people responsible for the drugs being brought into the school.

Throughout the story, the subplot gives a great deal of background as to how the Lakota live. The conditions are very bad in some camps and this story reveals the extreme difficulties some of the people face trying to be heard. The story itself plays out well and those responsible are eventually brought to justice. It’s not easy to weave the history of the Native American people and what they suffered into a drug-related narrative but author David Heska Wanbli Weiden pulls it off admirably, although the overall storyline could have been stronger. A very interesting read.

Available in bookstores August 25th

Ann McDonald

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