Deer Season

This title was previously available on NetGalley and is now archived.

Buy this Book on

You must sign in to see if this title is available for request.
Pub Date 01 Sep 2021 | Archive Date 01 Sep 2021

Talking about this book? Use #DeerSeason #NetGalley. More hashtag tips!


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.

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...

Advance Praise

“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

“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...

Available Editions

EDITION Other Format
ISBN 9781496226815
PRICE $21.95 (USD)

Available on NetGalley

NetGalley Shelf App (PDF)
Send To Kindle (PDF)
Download (PDF)

Average rating from 13 members

Featured Reviews

I was raised on a KS farm so there were so many things mentioned in this book that brought back memories….one finger farmer waves, Dorothy Lynch dressing and how people know all about you in small towns, good and bad. So that part of the story felt so familiar. Great job of including so many details from that and the 80s time period. I also love Dateline and the story felt like it could be a Dateline episode with each chapter told by different characters. A really entertaining read. Loved it! Thanks to NetGalley for allowing me the opportunity to read this interesting book.

Was this review helpful?

Deer Season was a compelling, suspenseful read. I was pulled in immediately to the characters and the richness of smalltown life on the Plains. As someone with a rural Nebraska background, I was impressed with how Flanagan resisted stereotypes. This is a fabulous debut novel--there were surprises that felt true, and I became invested in all of the characters who were fleshed out so fully. HIGHLY recommend!

Was this review helpful?

Loved the book! Really great character development, especially Milo. The story felt real and I connected with both Milo and Alma.

Was this review helpful?

Deer Season by Erin Flanagan is a very highly recommended character driven novel wrapped around a mystery. This is a beautifully written novel! In Gunthrum, Nebraska, the 1985 deer season is opening and Alma and Clyle Costagan's intellectually disabled farmhand, Hal Bullard, 28 years-old, has been invited to join two other local men on their weekend hunt. Alma, a pessimist by nature, is concerned for him considering who invited him along. Instead of staying away the whole weekend, Hal returns Saturday night and is seen at the OK bar. When he shows up at the Costagan's Sunday he claims he shot his first deer and came home early. He also has a dent in his front fender, which he may have gotten hitting his garage again on Saturday night, and blood in the truck bed from the deer. On the same weekend 12 year-old Milo Ahern is being confirmed in church that Sunday. When Milo goes to wake up his 16 year-old sister, Peggy, she's not in her room and later, when she can't be tracked down anywhere, she is reported missing. Gossip begins to swirl around Milo's early return and the condition of his truck. Residents of the small town quickly spread rumors and gossip that accused Hal of violence against Peggy, in spite of the lack of proof. It does not help matters that Hal has a crush on Peggy. Milo is much more observant and thoughtful than most of the adults around him. Deer Season is an exquisitely written literary novel. While the plot follows the reaction of the citizens of the town during the search for Peggy, the focus of the novel is an honest and compassionate character study full of attentive, intelligent observations. The characters are fully realized, complex individuals with faults, shortcomings and emotional damages, but also with honest knowledge and awareness of the small community around them and their faults. There are heartbreaking revelations and thoughts shared by both Milo and Alma and they will have your total empathy. Alma and Milo are the primary narrators in the novel and the plot unfolds through their points-of-view and their observations of the events surrounding Peggy's disappearance. While the mystery of Peggy's disappearance gives shape and purpose to the plot, the rich characterizations give the novel a depth and sensitivity that propels it to a standout mystery novel. Underlying themes include the contemplation of what it means to be a family and a question of how far would you go to protect those you love. With the complex characters and the satisfying and surprising conclusion, Flanagan has written a stunning, extraordinary debut novel. Deer Season would be a wonderful choice for book clubs that like to discuss literary fiction. Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of the University of Nebraska Press for TLC Book Tours. (8/30/21) The review will be published on Edelweiss, Barnes & Noble, Google Books, and Amazon.

Was this review helpful?

Erin Flanagan’s Deer Season is a slow burn murder mystery that doesn’t let go. By the end of the book, Flanagan had me second guessing every character for the murder. Deer Season has impeccably crafted characters and Flanagan has brought to life their little nook of the world. My favorite was Alma, a woman who left a life and job in Chicago to move with her husband back to his rural farm town. Crusty and grumpy with a heart of gold. Alma is so spot on, I feel as if I know her. Deer Season is one of my favorite reads of 2021--I'm looking forward to reading more from Erin Flanagan!

Was this review helpful?

Readers who liked this book also liked: