Winner of the 2022 Edgar Allan Poe Award for Best First Novel
It’s the opening weekend of deer season in Gunthrum, Nebraska, in 1985, and Alma Costagan’s intellectually disabled farmhand, Hal Bullard, has gone hunting with some of the locals, leaving her in a huff. That same weekend, a teenage girl goes missing, and Hal returns with a flimsy story about the blood in his truck and a dent near the headlight. When the situation escalates from that of a missing girl to something more sinister, Alma and her husband are forced to confront what Hal might be capable of, as rumors fly and townspeople see Hal’s violent past in a new light.
A drama about the complicated relationships connecting the residents of a small-town farming community, Deer Season explores troubling questions about how far people will go to safeguard the ones they love and what it means to be a family.
Erin Flanagan is a professor at Wright State University. She is the author of two short story collections, The Usual Mistakes (Nebraska, 2005) and It’s Not Going to Kill You, and Other Stories (Bison Books, 2013).
"This is a standout novel of small-town life, powered by the characters' consequential determination to protect their loved ones at any cost."—Publishers Weekly
, starred review
“With incisive prose and finely wrought tension, Deer Season
is an absorbing tale of a small town that is both severed and knitted together by tragedy. This book does not just return us to a forgotten place and time; it recreates it for us. This is fiction at its finest.”—Melissa Fraterrigo, author of Glory Days
“Flanagan subverts the traditional whodunit by pointing the reader not just to multiple suspects but, more importantly and humanely, to the many victims of a single act of violence. She also does it with grace and humor, and without fetishizing or parodying her Nebraskan characters. . . . That it’s compelling, fun, and highly readable is simply the cherry on top.”—Xhenet Aliu, author of Domesticated Wild Things, and Other Stories
“Flanagan takes clear-eyed aim at the foibles and strengths of the human heart, ultimately plumbing its tenderness through characters whose lives in Middle America are deftly rendered through a riveting plot. . . . Nuanced with unsentimental empathy, Deer Season
delivers a literary mystery that will leave readers thinking about these characters and their story long after turning the last page.”—Jess Montgomery, author of the Kinship series of historical mysteries