Virgil Wounded Horse

Created by David Heska Wanbli Weiden

“The past sticks to you on the rez.”

When you need a little justice on the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota, the American legal system and the local tribal council police aren’t always that helpful. Which is a polite way of saying often fucking useless.

Which is where local enforcer VIRGIL WOUNDED HORSE comes in

He’ll get you the justice you want–and maybe even deserve–and even deliver a serious case of whup ass–for a price.

Only problem? Virgil’s a bit of a loose cannon, and he’s pretty territorial. So when heroin arrives on the reservation in his series debut, Winter Counts (2020), he takes it personally. Particularly when it looks like the dealers have their hooks into his nephew.

A sequel, Wounded Horse, is already in the works.

I’ve gotta say, I’m looking forward to this. For far too long, Native Americans have been, for the most part, ignored in detective fiction, and there just haven’t been many Native American eyes, really, unless you count racist, pandering crap like Johnny Canuck. Oh, there have been a few credible sidekicks (Richard Hoyt’s Willie Prettybird and Robert B. Parker’s Zebulon Sixkill come to mind), and Wayne Arthurson has a good series about Leo Desroches, an Edmonton reporter, but an actual First Nations private eye (okay, “enforcer”), written by an “enrolled member of the Sicangu Lakota nation”?

Sign me up.

David Heska Wanbli Weiden grew up in Denver and received his MFA in Creative Writing from the Institute of American Indian Ar. He’s an alumnus of VONA, a Tin House Scholar, a MacDowell Colony Fellow, a Ragdale Foundation resident, and a recipient of the PEN/America Writing for Justice Fellowship.  He’s an active member of the Mystery Writers of America and International Thriller Writers, as well as the Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers. He’s also the author of the children’s book Spotted Tail (2019), a biography of the great Lakota leader and winner of the 2020 Spur Award, and he’s published in ShenandoahYellow Medicine Review, Transmotion, Criminal Class Review, Tribal College Journal, and other magazines.  He’s also the fiction editor for Anomaly, a journal of international literature and arts, and he teaches writing at the Lighthouse Writers Workshop in Denver. Oh, and “Heska Wanbli,” his Lakota spirit name, roughly translates as “mountain eagle.”


  • “… the best kind of thriller, one that balances intense pacing with fully-fleshed characters that are so well-drawn they jump off the page. The novel’s deep dive into Native American culture and the themes of identity and justice ensure it’ll stay with you long after you read the last page.”
    –Jess Lourey (CrimeReads)
  • “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, and David Heska Wanbli Weiden is a major new voice in crime fiction, indigenous fiction, and American literature.”
    — Benjamin Percy
  • “With this unique, cogent debut, David Heska Wanbli Weiden announces himself as a formidable new voice in crime fiction. The images haunt, the action crackles, and Virgil Wounded Horse makes a lasting impression as he knuckles his way through a heroin ring that threatens life as he knows it on his South Dakota reservation. Winter Counts is a heartfelt page-turner with compelling characters, keen cultural insight, and a climax unlike any I’ve read before.”
    –Steph Cha
  • “Suspenseful, gritty, gruffly endearing, and resonant, Weiden’s thriller, with its illumination of Lakota spiritual traditions and hopes raised for Virgil’s evolution from thug to sleuth, launches a promising and meaningful series.”
    — Booklist
  • “The pace never falters and Virgil emerges as a full-blown character littered with contradictions, whose determination and innate sense of confrontation brings both rewards and a mass of problems, and one who will surely become the subject of a great series, but Weiden’s greatest gift is how he opens our eyes to the plight of America’s disinherited and combines a powerful message with a rip-roaring read.”
    — Maxim Jakubowski on Winter Counts (September 2021, Crime Time)
  • “Tough, visceral, unapologetic, Weiden pulls no punches here, and it’s a wild ride.”
    — Tracy Clark (January 2023, CrimeReads)



Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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