Book Review

WINTER COUNTS by David Heska Wanbli Weiden

Rating: 4.5 / 5

WINTER COUNTS by David Heska Wanbli Weiden was our second November pick for the Saturday Booksta Club buddy read that I help host on Instagram. I didn’t know a lot about this one before seeing it as a Book of the Month option, so went into this one blind!

WINTER COUNTS follows Virgil Wounded Horse, a man who has stepped in as an enforcer on the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota where the police fail to provide the support that his people need for anything but the most extreme crimes. Virgil has become disillusioned with much of his people’s spiritual beliefs, but the feels compelled to provide the help he needs. When Virgil’s nephew gets caught up in the drug trade infringing on the reservation, the consequences are extreme and Virgil is determined to get to the bottom of what is going on before even worse happens.

As I said, I went into this one blind and the first chapter started off intense. I wasn’t sure I liked Virgil and his brand of vigilante justice, but the book did a good job of explaining his motivations. With the exception of murder or federal drug prosecution, the local law enforcement really lets things slide. In the opening chapter Virgil is dealing with a man who raped a young girl and without someone like Virgil, crimes like this go unaddressed.

This book does a great job of demonstrating the racism faced by the indigenous people from the lack of services available to the way they are treated from an own voices perspective. Virgil is told he should feel lucky that the government provides free basic medical care, but even with drugs becoming a major problem there are no drug programs or treatment options.

The mystery aspect of the story was well done as well. There were definitely suspicions about the ultimate culprit, but I didn’t call all the twists in the end. This is definitely a book I’d recommend for a good mystery / thriller with an added level of depth and meaning.

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