The Hounds of Winter


University of Texas Press (2005)

Combining the moral acuity of Graham Greene with the twists and turns of the best Hitchcock films, the latest novel from James Magnuson forces a father, on the run in the Wisconsin wilderness and accused of his daughter’s murder, to confront a deadly legacy of silence – both personal and historical.

David Neisen came seeking reconciliation; what he found was a father’s worst nightmare. Arriving on Christmas Eve to spend the holidays with his daughter Maya, he discovers her murdered on the floor of their cabin in the Wisconsin woods. He sees a ski-masked figure lurking through the snowdrifts behind the house and sets out in pursuit ­– only to transform himself into the prime suspect in his daughter’s death.

Struggling to elude his pursuers in the fierce Wisconsin winter, Neisen must deal with the ghosts of his past – a childhood tragedy that binds him to the small-town sheriff, the friends of his youth who must now choose to shelter or betray him, and the unresolved mysteries about the munitions plant where his father worked during the Korean War. Looming above it all is a growing certainty that his daughter was not who he thought she was. The answers lie hidden in “this Midwestern world of farmers and sons and daughters of farmers with their Christian forbearance and Scandinavian silences, their delicate kindnesses, this Cold War world, this white-bread world. It receded like the Ice Age had receded, leaving behind its own rubble, its broken citadels and buried secrets....”



“As brooding and lethal as a Wisconsin winter storm, this taut thriller puts small-town relations into frightening relief. Magnuson keeps the psychological tension high, right up to the satisfying denouement.”

~ Publishers Weekly


“James Magnuson's eighth novel kicks off with a jolt: A father discovers his college-student daughter brutally murdered in a remote Wisconsin cabin where the pair was to spend the Christmas holidays cross-country skiing and healing recent wounds. David Neisen had talked with Maya only minutes before on the phone and, soon after the local sheriff arrives, he's cast in the shadow of prime suspect.”

~ San Antonio Express News