Polis Books


The internationally acclaimed debut novel that will change the way you think about crime, assault, violence, and the law, from an unforgettable new voice. DARK CHAPTER will stay with you long after the last page is turned.

Available now in hardcover, paperback, and ebook

“Crime writers have long insisted that their genre tackles societal issues better than any other, and Winnie M Li proves that claim beyond a doubt. While the story centres around a horrific crime, it’s the exploration of the aftermath and the cruelty of the justice system that sets this book apart. A fine debut from an exceptional talent, and an important study of the human cost of violence.”
—Stuart Neville, award-winning author of The Ghosts of Belfast and So Say the Fallen

"A gripping debut...Li does a fine job exploring how one incident can change the course of a life in this astute psychological study." —Publishers Weekly

"That Li was able to write this novel, as both personal catharsis and public service, speaks volumes about her inner strength. Li's novel is both a valuable social document and a riveting page-turner." —Kirkus Reviews

"What is striking about this acclaimed first novel is that not only is it based on an incident in the author’s life, but the facility with which Li is able to intertwine the life stories of Vivian and Johnny, giving each substance and depth, sacrificing her own biases to create a clear sight line for the reader. Li skillfully compels the reader to examine life stories that have converged through a nightmarish act of ­violence." —Library Journal (Starred Review)

"A great, difficult, and important read.” -Book Riot

"This debut, based on true events, is a thoughtful, empathetic portrayal of the challenges rape victims face when seeking justice." —Booklist

"A heart-wrenching depiction of a dreadful crime and its horrifying aftermath. Brave, raw and strikingly original, it is a story that will resonate for many years." -Daily Mail (UK)

Highly Commended for the CWA Debut Dagger

Shortlisted for the Emma Humphreys Memorial Prize

Shortlisted for the Pat Kavanagh Prize

Runner-up in the SI Leeds Literary Prize

A Life-Changing Trauma: Winnie M Li talks with Publishers Weekly about her debut novel DARK CHAPTER

Vivian is a cosmopolitan Taiwanese-American tourist who often escapes her busy life in London through adventure and travel. Johnny is a 15-year-old Irish teenager, living a neglected life on the margins of society. He has grown up in a family where crime is customary, violence is a necessity, and everything--and anyone--can be yours for the taking.

As Vivian looks to find her calling professionally, she delights in exploring foreign countries, rolling hillsides, and new cultures. And as a young, single woman, she has grown used to experiencing life on her own. But all of that changes when, on one bright spring afternoon in West Belfast, Vivian’s path collides with Johnny and culminates in a horrifying act of violence.

In the aftermath of the incident, both Johnny and Vivian are forced to confront the chain of events that led to the attack. Vivian must struggle to recapture the woman that she was and the woman she aspired to be, while dealing with a culture and judicial system that treats assault victims as less than human. Johnny, meanwhile, flees to the sanctity of his transitory Irish clan. But when he is finally brought to reckon for his crimes, Vivian learns that justice is not always as swift or as fair as she would hope. Inspired by true events, DARK CHAPTER is both a literary masterpiece and a riveting novel of suspense about of the dark chapters and chance encounters that can irrevocably determine the shape of our lives.