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"A riveting crime novel.... This is a superior roman à clef." Publishers Weekly starred review




On Thanksgiving Day, 1991, the tattered remnants of the notorious LaVoie crime family gather for a melancholy reunion. Sister Ronnie, a faded beauty who’s outlived three husbands and countless lovers, is the host. Her guests include eldest brother Eugene, the family’s detested Judas; Adriana, the flamboyant widow of youngest brother Michael, who was presumed killed in Vietnam; and Joe, the sole survivor of a fraternal trio of pint-sized desperadoes who terrorized the Upper Midwest during the summer of 1953. Also present, if only in Joe’s fevered imagination, are the ghosts of his ne’er-do-well father and neurasthenic mother; his partners in crime, brothers Jack and Bernard; and his beautiful, otherworldly little sister, Janine. Then there’s the specter of H.V. Meslow, the aged, obsessed cop who pursued the brothers to their spectacular end but will not be satisfied until he claims Joe’s soul.

Crippled by a police bullet during the climactic shootout, Joe has spent the past 38 years in a wheelchair. Now, dying, he’s desperate to know—yet terrified to learn—the awful truth behind his family’s demise. Years after the brothers’ bloody rampage, a local journalist wrote: “People blame poverty, lack of parental control, a failure of the criminal justice system, even the brothers’ diminutive stature. I would add to that list some kind of curse—a dark star or black cloud—that shadowed them for decades. The LaVoies couldn’t get anything right. They couldn’t catch a break. They couldn’t win for losing.”

My Name Is Joe LaVoie is not a true story, but an extensive fiction inspired by a crime spree that shocked the Midwest in the 1950s. 


“W.A. Winter turns the known bare threads of a true crime event and trial in mid-50s Minneapolis...into a masterful work of narrative fiction.... The human drama of the crime, the investigation, the trial, and the aftermath are laid out with mesmerizing precision.”
Geza Tatrallyay, New York Journal of Books


"If [James] Ellroy moved his cops to the Midwest, you'd have The Secret Lives of Dentists. Hits like a Minnesota winter, cold and hard. You'll love it."

Rick Ollerman, author of Mad Dog Barked




W.A. Winter is the pen name of journalist William Swanson. Born and raised in Minneapolis, Swanson has worked for newspapers, wire services, and magazines in Mexico, Germany, and the United States. He is the author of three true-crime books published by the Minnesota Historical Society Press.

As W.A. Winter, he has written a trio of Midwestern Noir novels available online from Kindle Books, Nook, and Seventh Street Books published his most recent suspense novels––The Secret Lives of Dentists in 2021 and My Name Is Joe LaVoie this summer––in trade paperback editions.


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